Organizations in the United States and across the world are calling for pregnant women to count how often their babies kick while in the womb because it can help them identify prenatal issues and prevent stillbirths.
Low fetal activity may indicate to parents that there's something wrong with the prenatal development of the baby, according to research from Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences in 2012.
"Reduced activity in the belly may be a sign of the fetus being in a vulnerable or threatened condition, thus the risk of complications become greater the longer you wait to contact the health services,” Eli Saastad told Science Nordic.
Tracking has also led to a decrease in stillbirths because pregnant women who count are more likely to consult their physicians. A 2009 study found there was a 33 percent decrease in stillbirths when parents kept track of the movements of their babies while they were in the womb. The study recommended that tracking fetal movement should be a part of routine care for new mothers.
And that recommendation hasn't gone unnoticed. In the United States, Count the Kicks is one organization that promotes prenatal tracking and its importance.
“The goal of Count the Kicks is to improve the chances of delivering a healthy baby and prevent unexpected birth complications and even late-term stillbirth," the Count the Kicks' website says.
Count the Kicks also has a branch in the United Kingdom. Pregnant women can download the organization's app to start tracking their baby's movements.
Another campaign called Still Aware, which is based in Australia, also encourages mothers to keep track of their baby's prenatal activity. According to the campaign, spending time monitoring your baby's movements can help mothers bond with their children before they are born.
“A baby’s only direct link to the outside world is through its mother,” Still Aware founder Claire Foord told Kid Spot, an Australian website for families. “At Still Aware, we believe that making time to daily monitor a baby’s movement is as important as mother’s taking prenatal vitamins and staying healthy.”
Watch the video below to learn more about Still Aware and the benefits of counting your baby's kicks.
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.