New campaign says counting to 10 could save babies' lives

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - An active baby can be a sign of a healthy baby.

That's the idea behind the "Count the Kicks" campaign, which aims to reduce the number of stillbirths.

"It's a free, easy way to make sure the baby is healthy inside the womb every day," says Dr. Laura Hughes with Stormont Vail's Maternal Fetal Medicine.

The campaign encourages moms-to-be in their third trimester to do exactly what it says.

"They can count them whatever time of day the baby is most active - for most babies, that's in the evening; then we recommend that patients rest, sitting down, lying on their left side and count to 10 movements. As soon as they get to ten, they're done," Dr. Hughes said. "If you don't get 10 movements within two hours, it's time to go to labor and delivery and get the baby evaluated."

Dr. Hughes says every baby is different, so it's not necessarily about who gets to ten quickest.

"Babies do have sleep and wake cycles, but they typically are 20 to 30 minutes at a time, so certainly if you're counting for two hours and you haven't been able to get 10 movements in that time period, it's too long," she said.

Through Count the Kicks, the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment will provide free educational materials to doctors, hospitals, and social service agencies, and expectant moms can download a free app to help them monitor movements, and track changes.

Dr. Hughes says more active and less active days should be expected, so let the two-hour window - and your gut - be your guide.

"The point of the fetal movement counts is to find a baby that's starting to gets sick inside the womb so we can intervene with delivery," she said. "For any pregnant woman I would suggest, If she is worried, she should listen to her own body and her intuition and go in and get evaluated."

Kansas has the 24th-highest stillbirth rate in the country, with 232 babies stillborn every year according to the Centers for Disease Control. KDHE hopes Count the Kicks can reduce the state's stillbirth rate 26 percent. They estimate that would save 60 Kansas babies every year.

Dr. Hughes says counting movements is helpful, but should not be a substitute for proper prenatal care.