The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is partnering with Count the Kicks, an evidence-based stillbirth prevention public health campaign, to educate and empower expectant parents in Alabama about the importance of tracking fetal movement in the third trimester of pregnancy. One out of every 113 pregnancies in Alabama ends in stillbirth, according to the Alabama Center for Health Statistics.
“This evidence-based campaign will help educate pregnant women and their families about simple and effective ways to improve birth outcomes,” Samille Jackson, Maternal and Child Health coordinator, ADPH, said. “We are hopeful the prevention campaign will reduce the heartbreak too many expectant parents suffer when their babies are stillborn.”
Count the Kicks teaches the method for, and importance of, tracking fetal movement during the third trimester of pregnancy. Research shows the benefits of expectant moms tracking their baby’s movements daily and learning how long it normally takes their baby to get to 10 movements. After a few days, moms will begin to see a pattern, a normal amount of time it takes their baby to get to 10 movements. If their baby’s “normal" changes during the third trimester, this could be a sign of potential problems and is an indication that the expectant mom should call her healthcare provider.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, expectant moms have reported changes to their regularly scheduled prenatal visits and an increase in telehealth visits. Now is an especially important time for expectant women to track their baby’s movements every day in the third trimester. By doing so, expectant moms will have the peace of mind to know when things are all right and when things have changed.
Thanks to the partnership with ADPH, maternal health providers, birthing hospitals, social services agencies, childbirth educators and other providers in Alabama can order FREE Count the Kicks educational materials (available at https://countthekicks.org/) to help them have the kick counting conversation with expectant parents.
Count the Kicks also has a free app available in the iOS and Google Play app stores that provides expectant moms a simple, non-invasive way to monitor their baby’s well-being every day. The Count the Kicks app is available in 12 languages, including English, Spanish and Haitian-Creole, and its features include a kick-counting history, daily reminders, and the ability to count for single babies and twins. Nearly 3,000 expectant women have downloaded the app in Alabama already.
“After the birth of my son in April 2020, the nurse explained how my story could have turned out differently if I waited to come in,” said Shelley Patterson, a mom in Auburn. “I am thankful to God that I had heard about the Count the Kicks campaign and app from my friend.”
According to ADPH, Alabama lost approximately 527 babies to stillbirth during the time period of 2014-2018. In Iowa, where Count the Kicks began, the state’s stillbirth rate dropped by nearly 32 percent in the first 10 years of the campaign (2008-2018). Iowa’s rate went from 33rd worst in the country to one of the lowest, while the country’s rate remained relatively stagnant. ADPH is hoping to bring the same success to Alabama, which would save approximately 169 babies in the state each year.