Though early miscarriage is more common, tragedy sometimes hits in late pregnancy. When a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it is called stillbirth. Most stillbirths happen in full-term or close to full-term pregnancies. Some causes of stillbirth are problems with the placenta or umbilical cord, chromosomal problems in the baby, or infections. As with most other pregnancy losses, stillbirths can also happen with no known cause. Some things that increase the chance of stillbirth are:
- Being obese (having an excess amount of body fat)
- Health problems like high blood pressure
- Age older than 35 years
- Smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs during pregnancy
- Pregnancies that last more than 42 weeks
Paying attention to a baby’s movements in the womb has been linked with a decrease in stillbirth. Healthy babies are usually active. Unborn babies sleep for short periods of time, but most of the time, they will kick, roll, twist and turn. Counting your baby’s movements is a way to tell how your baby is doing. A healthy baby usually moves at least 10 times in 2 hours. Doctors and midwives usually recommend that you begin counting movements around the 7th month of pregnancy (about 28 weeks). The baby’s movements will change as they grow bigger in your womb. Call your doctor right away if you notice a sudden change in your baby’s activity.
How to do fetal kick counts:
- Choose a time of day that your baby is usually active. Try to count around the same time each day. (It may be best to count after a meal.)
- Get in a comfortable position. You can lie down or sit in a chair with your feet up.
- Write down the date and time that you begin counting your baby’s movements.
- Continue counting until your baby has moved 10 times. Count any movements, including kicks, rolls, swishes, or flutters.
- After your baby has moved 10 times, write down the time on your chart.
Example of a Kick Counts Chart
On Sunday, you begin counting your baby’s movements at 7:05 PM. By 7:40 PM, you have felt your baby kick or move 10 times. You would fill in your chart this way:
|Minutes to reach 10||35|
Learn more and download a free kick counts app at countthekicks.org.