Pregnancy Kick Counts: What I Just Learned About Fetal Movement

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I was not feeling the baby move as much for the last two days. So I did what I knew I was supposed to do: I laid down for an hour and started doing “kick counts.” After 1 hour of counting less then 10 fetal movements I was not reassured.

My husband drove me to the labor and delivery unit at our hospital. I called them first to explain the situation and they told me to come in and get checked out.  I am only in my 33rd week of pregnancy.

As I have written about before, I had a placental abruption when I was pregnant with my daughter at 33 weeks pregnant. We were able to have an emergency c – section and get her out safely in time (thank God!).

That is one of the reasons I am such a stickler about doing daily kick counts. They are the only way to determine fetal health in between doctor’s appointments.

(I have also been using an at-home fetal dopplar since I was 13 weeks with both my pregnancies. It definitely helped minimize my stress levels!  However, doing daily fetal kick counts is still the number one way to assess if the baby is in distress.)

I admit, I am probably getting a little paranoid considering the circumstances that happened during my first pregnancy. But I figured it was better to be safe then sorry, even if the staff at the hospital thought I was totally overreacting (which they didn’t).

My trip to the labor and delivery unit was relatively fast and saved me from many days of worry.

Fortunately, everything looked great! The trip calmed my nerves so that I could get through until my next appointment in 2 weeks (they were so booked I had to wait 5 weeks in between appointments this time, which I think is way too long at this point anyway).

Of course once the baby was placed on a fetal monitor he started kicking, turning and jabbing. He was bouncing around and showing off like a good, healthy baby should.

The midwife even told me our baby “had the strongest heartbeat of all the babies on the unit.” I’m not sure if she was just trying to reassure me or she really had some difficult pregnancies to deal with at the time, but I was so glad I went in.

Doing “kick counts” after 28 weeks is so important.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about doing “kick counts” because I had done a lot of research on it. I even wrote a blog post about it.

To do kick counts you lay down on your left side and count the number of kicks or fetal movements you get in one hour. Most providers says that once you get to ten counts then you can stop counting. Then quit for that day and start again the next day.

You are looking for a significant decrease in movement from a previously normal pattern.

The Midwife taught me a few new things about doing “kick counts” that are SO important.

#1. Babies in utero have 40 minute sleep cycles.

Which means that if you don’t feel any kicks for the first hour then the fetal movements should pick up in the second hour.

#2. Eat something while you are laying down to do the kick counts.

Eating will wake the baby up some you can feel more fetal movement. Don’t eat and then wait an hour, because it will put the baby to sleep and you will feel less movement during that time.

#3. If you are ever concerned about the health and safety of your unborn child, it is always the right thing to get checked out.

There is no benefit in sitting at home worrying that there may be something wrong. I was reassured many times that if at any time I felt a decrease in fetal movement or had any other concerns about the health of the baby that I should not hesitate to come back in. The staff reiterated that to me several times.

Oh, the joys of pregnancy!

I am getting large and even though I am pretty wiped out most of the time, I actually am enjoying this (when I’m not scaring myself to death, that is).

Even though the extra “nesting” energy I had a few weeks ago has dissipated.

And I’m also still experiencing foggy pregnancy brain symptoms.

But aside from all that, I am so grateful to be in the midst of such a healthy pregnancy. There really is nothing better. It feels awesome to know that our baby is doing so well and that he growing normally.

Baby boy is still measuring 2 weeks ahead! I’m shooting for a potential 9 pounder!

Thanks for reading!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

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About The Author

Sarah

Sarah Jividen is a registered nurse, blogger, writer, wife, and mother with an aspiration to empower nurses and moms to take better care of themselves. Sarah lives with her husband in a beach suburb outside of Los Angeles where they are raising their two-year-old daughter, newborn son and two rescue kitties. In a rare moment of free time you may find Sarah practicing yoga, socializing with friends, sampling dark beers or attending a local concert venue with her husband.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Carey | 29th Dec 18

    Very interesting article. But, what if your baby is just quiet? My husband said he hardly moved whereas my brother-in-law was a kickboxer, lol.

    • Sarah | 5th Jan 19

      I felt both my babies move, however, my son was like a kick boxer too 🙂 I had a silent placental abruption with my first baby (my daughter) and doing kick counts was the main indicator that convinced me to drive to the hospital when I was only 33 weeks along. I had an emergency c-section right then. I was so lucky I went in. My OBGYN had told me that fetal movement in the best indicator of fetal health in between appointments. She said to do kick counts at night before bedtime when I was already resting. Babies are most active between 9 – 1am and after eating sugary foods. Both of my babies liked to dance right when I was trying to fall asleep. 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

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