Kick Counts During Pregnancy: How To Track Your Baby's Movement

Here’s Why Kick Counts Are Super Important For Both You And Your Baby

May 19, 2021 Updated August 17, 2021

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The first several months of any pregnancy can also be the most stressful, which is why being able to finally feel your baby move for the first time proves to be a great source of relief for many expectant mothers. Up until that point, you’ve been having pretty much a one-sided conversation with your body. But once your baby starts moving around, it provides much-needed reassurance that everything is going according to plan. It also means that you may want to begin incorporating kick counts into your daily routine, which can prove to be beneficial not only for your baby but for your peace of mind as well.

Odds are that you’ve at least heard of the term “kick counting” before or can deduce what it means. In short, it’s a helpful way of tracking baby’s movements inside the womb to monitor their growth and development. Apart from getting nudged in the ribs a few times, it can be a fulfilling way to bond with your baby. And the best part? It’s super easy to do (unlike childbirth itself, but that’s a whole other story).

When To Start Counting Kicks

According to the American Pregnancy Association, you should start to feel your baby’s movements anywhere from 18 to 25 weeks into your pregnancy, though it’ll vary from person to person. These movements could be difficult to notice at first and just feel like little flutters. They become more pronounced as the weeks progress, making it easier to keep track of your baby’s waking and sleeping cycles. As for when the actual kick counting should occur, the APA recommends starting at 28 weeks, particularly if you qualify as a high-risk pregnancy. However, monitoring your baby’s movements can prove to be beneficial for all expectant mothers.

How Often To Do Kick Counts

Once you hit that 28-week mark, it’s a good idea to set aside time every day to monitor your little one’s actions. Choose a time of day when the baby is most active, such as just after you’ve just had a big meal or finished exercising (prenatal yoga, anyone?). Then again, perhaps your baby is like mine and prefers to be most active late at night, in which case you could get your kick counting in then. Who needs sleep, right?

How To Do Kick Counts

Now let’s dive into the actual kick counting process itself. Some of you may feel a little uncertain about what qualifies as a kick and how much movement is a “normal” amount. Fear not! The process is relatively simple — you don’t need to worry about trying to define whether or not it’s an official kick. Any movement or flutter will do to let you know that your baby is moving around in there just like it should be.

So, how does it work then? The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests timing how long it takes for you to feel 10 kicks (flutters or movements of any kind). The goal is to feel at least 10 movements within two hours. It may be a good idea to keep a log or journal of these movements to help ease your anxiety. Write down the date and time you feel the first movement and then record the time once again after the tenth movement occurs. Doing so will help you see patterns form throughout your baby’s development and make it easier to spot changes or potential problems.

What To Do If You Don’t Feel 10 Kicks

If you go through the process and don’t feel 10 movements by the end of two hours, don’t panic. Your baby may just not be very active during that particular time of day. Wait a few hours and try kick counting again to see if there’s an increase in movement. If there isn’t, then it might be a good idea to contact your obstetrician just to be on the safe side. Some days your baby may just be more active than others (much like adults), so try not to worry too much.

After all, kick counting isn’t just a smart way to monitor your baby’s health — it can also be a lot of fun and get you even more excited to welcome your little one into the world.

Is decreased fetal movement a sign of fetal distress?

Feeling your baby kick inside you is a strange and incredible feeling, but it’s also reassurance that baby is doing OK. If your child isn’t a kicker, no worries, he may not be as enthusiastic. However, a decline in fetal movement can also be a sign of distress. So, here are a few other clues to look out for that will help you spot any issues with your baby.

  • Stomach cramping
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abnormal heart rate in baby

How to Get Baby to Kick More

Sometimes babies have lazy days, so if you want your little one to be a bit more active and kick a little more, here are a few things you can do to get them excited.

  • Do a few safe and doctor-approved exercises. Baby will appreciate the moment and might do a little dance.
  • Eat one of your favorite snacks.
  • Talk or sing to your baby.
  • Turn on your favorite song and dance around.

Do baby kicks hurt?

Each woman has a unique experience during pregnancy, and baby kicks are also one of the delightful nuances of childbearing. Some women feel extreme discomfort from baby kicks, like pain in their ribs or stomach that feel numb or very sharp. And although they can be uncomfortable, baby kicks are a sign that baby is both healthy and active.