‘Count the Kicks’ works to improve birth outcomes, helps save Alabama baby's life

WAFF 48's Jasmyn Cornell reporting
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 12:49 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and many organizations across the state are working to raise awareness about ways to prevent stillbirth.

“Stillbirth is truly a public health crisis in the US that isn’t often talked about,” said Kimberly Isburg, Communications Specialist for Count the Kicks.

Count the Kicks is a campaign of Healthy Birth Day, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of stillbirth. It was launched in Alabama in 2021. ADPH is partnering with Count the Kicks to educate expectant parents about the importance of paying attention to baby’s movements in the third trimester.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21,000 babies are stillborn every year in the United States. Alabama loses approximately 527 babies a year on average to stillbirth.

“Racial disparities persist and African American women, Black women, are two times more likely to experience a stillbirth than their white neighbor, colleague or friend,” said Isburg. “Hispanic women, Asian Pacific Islanders, and indigenous expectant parents are also more likely to experience a stillbirth.”

The CDC lists a change in a baby’s movements as one of its 15 urgent maternal warning signs. So, ADPH and Count the Kicks is encouraging expectant parents to use the Count the Kicks app to track their baby’s movements during the third trimester of pregnancy.

“By using the app, counting your baby’s kicks every day, it’s going to time how long it takes your baby to reach 10 movements, and then [it’ll] ask you to rate the strength of your baby’s movements during that daily counting session,” said Isburg.

The app allows parents to get to know what’s normal for their baby and help them determine if they need to be checked by a health care provider. It is already credited with helping one Alabama family.

“If I had just waited until my 37 week checkup, then the worst could have happened,” said Shamari Cooke, a mother who lives in Alabama.

During her pregnancy, Cooke learned about the importance of kick counting from her OBGYN. She began using the app to track her baby’s movements every night during the third trimester.

“All of a sudden, I remember... [one] Monday evening I got off work. That was the last time she had kicked... I didn’t feel her move anymore that day,” said Cooke.

When Cooke went to the hospital, medical providers found that her fluid level was very low despite having no symptoms. She ended up having an emergency C-section, delivering a healthy baby girl named Aspen.

“I’m thankful for the app because... I didn’t know that you had to count the baby’s kids every day,” said Cooke.

“It really helps to monitor the well being of your baby in between prenatal visits,” said Isburg.

The Count the Kicks app is free. According to ADPH, kick counting data within the app can be emailed or texted directly to providers.

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