Around 28 weeks, or the start of the third trimester, expectant mothers should begin doing daily “kick counts.” Simply put, the mum sits as comfortably as she can, or lays on her left side, and counts fetal movements. Mothers should perform these kick count sessions twice a day, and roughly the same time each day for example, around 10 in the morning and 7 at night every day. The baby should move ten times within an hour. Most of the time, it takes much less time than an hour to feel these movements. If, however, at the end of an hour, the baby has not moved 10 times, then the mum should get up and drink some juice and eat a little, which generally gives the baby a bit of a “sugar buzz,” and will get them moving. But, if at the end of the second hour baby has still not moved, then the mother should call and notify her midwife, or call the ante-natal triage for advice.
Movements can include everything from little flutters to giant kicks to the bladder. If you are struggling to keep track, you may want to use this downloadable chart from Count the Kicks.You can also get phone apps that help you keep count, though generally just counting yourself is more than sufficient.
Usually, when you call, your midwife will either ask you to repeat the kick count then call back, or to go into the hospital to be monitored. This will involve you lying on a bed and having bands strapped round your waist which measure the baby’s movements – the midwives will be able to see what is going on and you will also be asked to press a button when you feel baby move. They will be looking for baby to meet a certain number of movements in order for him to ‘pass’ the test.
These counts are important because they can give parents and medical professionals alike a glimpse into the well-being of the unborn baby. A baby who is not moving can be a baby in trouble. Sometimes the baby is sleeping and just not moving much, but sometimes the baby is in distress and needs medical assistance. Also, be sure to report any changes in the time it takes to record ten movements. If, for example, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, your baby takes about thirty minutes to move ten times, but on Thursday it takes two hours to get ten movements, notify your medical provider. And remember, while it is normal for babies to slow down and have smaller movements in the final weeks of pregnancy, it is not normal for them to stop moving altogether.
by Carrie, Mum to Lorien, Brynna, Jasper, Rowan and Willow