And a 1, and a 2, and 1, 2, 3 . . . Fetal Kick Counts
With my first pregnancy, I realized the busier I was during the day, the less I felt my baby move and kick. So, every afternoon, I would eat something sweet (like a frozen fig newton) and sit still for a few minutes. It wouldn’t take long for me to feel that reassuring kick, kick, kick.
When Can You Expect Your Baby to Move?
Most women begin to feel their baby moving and kicking at about 20 weeks. If it is your first pregnancy, you might feel the kicks a little later. And, you might detect the baby moving a bit sooner if it is your second pregnancy or beyond.
Either way, it is exciting to feel those first movements, and, as the baby grows, some of those kicks are pretty impressive!
By the third trimester (around 28 weeks), you will probably have a sense of your baby’s daily patterns.
What is Kick Counting?
Kick counting is a way to monitor your baby’s movement during the last trimester (weeks 28-40+). When you track movement and patterns of movement, you get a sense of “normal.” If the normal pattern changes or the movement slows down, the baby might be experiencing some type of stress.
How Do You Do It?
There are two ways to do kick counting. You can either count the number of kicks during a set period of time or time how long it takes for the baby to kick a certain number of times.
Ten movements—including kicks, flutters, or rolls—in one hour is considered “normal” fetal movement. Don’t worry, however, if you feel less than 10 movements in an hour.
Here’s how to count:
#1 Pick a time you usually feel the baby move.
#2 Sit with your feet propped up or lie on your left side.
#3 Start a timer.
#4 Put your hands on your belly.
#5 Count kicks, flutters, or rolls.
#6 When you get to ten, note the time.
Or, you can set a timer for one hour and make a tally mark for each movement. See how many marks you have at the end of the hour.
After you have done this for a few days, you will know your baby’s patterns and what range of times and kicks that is “normal” for your baby. Note that it is normal for some babies to take up to 2 hours to reach 10 movements. You just want to figure out your baby’s personal pattern.
Remember, babies sleep just like us! If you need to get the baby moving you can try taking a walk, drinking some juice or eating a meal (do fig newtons count as a meal?), or lay on your left side to maximize blood flow.
When Should You Contact Your Provider?
If you ever note a significant shift in the pattern, contact your provider. It might mean the baby is under some kind of stress that your provider can help alleviate.
Count your kicks with Tennessee Family Doulas! Learn about our Childbirth Classes and Labor Support, including a prenatal visit. We can help you learn how to read “signs” from your body and your baby before and after birth. Reach out today!