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MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Mon 08-Jun-15 12:31:03

Guest post: Count the Kicks: "We're determined that fewer and fewer people will join our baby loss community"

It's Giving Week at MNHQ, and we're going to be hearing from each of the five charities chosen by you. First up is Count the Kicks, a charity raising awareness of the importance of a baby's movements in the womb. Do give what you can, and Mumsnet will match your donations to a total of £25,000!

Share this on Facebook, and tweet using the hashtag #MNGiving to help us spread the word.

Elizabeth Hutton

Count the Kicks

Posted on: Mon 08-Jun-15 12:31:03


Lead photo

"If women reported their concerns, there's a chance a baby in distress could be delivered and saved."

Halfway through my pregnancy with my son, I went to hospital for a scan. I knew something was wrong. I just knew. I shed silent tears on my way there, and I felt sick. I thought this was the worst feeling any mother could feel. But I was wrong.

I lay there thinking my son was dead, that any second the sonographer was going to tell me he had gone. Sure enough, she turned the screen away from me and said: "I'm so sorry, there's no heartbeat". In that second what I thought was rock bottom suddenly crumbled away. Even though I already knew in my heart that he was gone, I fell into a whole new world of pain.

They spoke to me about the birth, about holding him, about taking photos. I didn't hear a word. I was just trying to take breaths, trying to get through each second. In hindsight I can only assume this was nature’s way of trying to protecting me.

Following Toby's birth I spent days, weeks and months looking up stillbirth figures and support groups. I was horrified. 6,500 babies are stillborn every year in the UK, the second highest number in the developed world. Stillbirth is ten times more common than cot death and there are more stillborn babies than babies who die from cot death, road death and meningitis combined. There were thousands and thousands of parents feeling the same way I did. So why was the number so high? What could be done to reduce it?

6,500 babies are stillborn every year in the UK, the second highest number in the developed world. We need to ask why the number is so high, and what we can do to reduce it.

There are lots of theories that say that babies slow down as they reach the end of pregnancy, because they run out of room or are conserving their energy for birth. Despite being widely believed, this is not necessarily the case. Rather than being a sign the baby is getting ready to be born, it could instead be a sign the baby is in distress. Two out of three women who had a stillbirth noticed a reduction in movement; if women reported their concerns, there’s a chance a baby in distress could be delivered and saved.

This is why Count the Kicks is so important. If we can encourage every woman in this situation to tell their midwife or maternity unit, we have the potential to save a third of stillborn babies. A similar campaign in Norway called 'Kicks Count' is testament to the difference that can be made: there, stillbirth rates have reduced by 50%.

I am determined that fewer and fewer people will join us in the baby loss community. To make this a reality we need to ensure that every pregnant woman understands the importance of monitoring their baby's movements. To do this, we print leaflets detailing foetal movements that are distributed by midwives, and run a website with important information for pregnant women. Now, we want to continue expanding, to make sure our message reaches more and more mums and helps to save more and more babies.

A brief scan of our Facebook page shows how many stories we get from mums whose babies have been saved by Count the Kicks. It's heartening to know our campaign is so effective. But every time we hear of a baby that has been stillborn and a mother who says "I wish I'd known about you sooner," we realise that we still have a long way to go.

By Elizabeth Hutton

Twitter: @countthekicks

So glad that MN have chosen this as one of our charities this year. I know/have met several women who have lost their baby at birth and feel there is important work to do here to raise awareness in the hope of reducing the heartbreak sad

SomethingFunny Mon 08-Jun-15 18:28:47

Such an important charity, I am so glad it was chosen. I have friends who have had to leave hospital with empty arms. It would be wonderful if the rate could be reduced by 50%, 2/3rds or ideally by 100% so no Mother had to suffer the heartbreak that you went through with Toby xxx

BreadmakerFan Mon 08-Jun-15 19:21:45

It would also help if when you turn up worried sick you aren't treated like an idiot by a midwife who belittles how you feel then throws away your trace when she finds out she has sent a woman home whose baby is at risk.

yetanotherchangename Mon 08-Jun-15 19:24:19

I support this initiative. One point of caution - it's not always possible to count the kicks (e.g. In pregnancy with multiples) so while making sure that every woman understands the importance there need to be some messages for those who can't.

FoylesForBooks Mon 08-Jun-15 19:25:37

From how many weeks should you be counting kicks?

theworldswife Mon 08-Jun-15 19:30:35

When I was having my eldest daughter 23 years ago, I had pre-eclampsia and as well as regular monitoring I was given a "kick chart" to note down movements. Did find it very reassuring. Is this not a thing anymore?
Great initiative by the way, so sorry for the loss of your little boy, thank you for sharing your story.

newtonupontheheath Mon 08-Jun-15 20:32:53

I've been in today with reduced movements. Everything was fine, but the stomach churn and the thoughts that go through your mind whilst you are waiting and getting hooked up to the monitors are awful.

My heart goes out to all those that have not brought their babies home with them.

JustDanceAddict Tue 09-Jun-15 08:57:11

Great initiative & sorry for your loss. My son wasn't particularly active in the womb, but one day in the latter stages I barely felt anything. Drove straight to hospital and he was fine, but he was transverse and a 'floppy' baby so this is probably why there was lack of movement.

Amserhaf Tue 09-Jun-15 13:39:05

TheWorldsWife My babies are 22 and 24 and I too was told to count the kicks way back then. My little boy was very quiet and I went to midwife and was told to count how many kicks in a 24 hour period. I thought this was still used.

Hygge Tue 09-Jun-15 14:43:46

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I've been there myself, although the first time we had no idea that anything was wrong.

I did buy one of those wrist band things in my third pregnancy, but I was never sure quite how to count the kicks.

Sometimes there'd be a flurry of movement, and I didn't know if that counted as one kick (because it was one period of movement) or all ten at once because there were lots of kicks.

When I asked my midwife she wasn't able to tell me. She just kept saying "as long as baby is doing ten kicks" and I still didn't know if it counted if they were all at the same time.

I just wanted someone to tell me either way, ten kicks all at once or ten different periods of moving through the day? In the end I decided to just go with the second option.

If I'd known about your website I might have had my answers. Good luck with your campaign.

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