Kicks Count is a UK registered charity that aims to empower mums to be with knowledge and confidence throughout their pregnancy.
A baby’s movement indicate its wellbeing and by understanding their baby, mums can be empowered to trust their instincts and ensure the healthy delivery of their baby.
The charity was initially called Count the Kicks and was set up in 2009 by Sophia Wyatt following the stillbirth of her daughter Chloe.
Determined to ensure more mums did not experience this tragedy, the charity was set up to educate mums on the importance of a baby’s movements and to help them work with healthcare professionals to bring home a healthy baby. Today we are known as Kicks Count.
Our overall mission is to reduce stillbirth in the UK, which has the second worst stillbirth rate in the developed world. In 2014 one in every 219 births was a stillbirth, this is around 10 babies a day. When stillbirths are included in 2014 infant mortality figures, they account for more than half of the deaths of infants under 1 year, more babies die in the womb or first week of life than they do from cot death, road deaths and meningitis combined. There is a common misconception that stillbirths only happen in high risk pregnancies or when there is a known problem. This is just not true and stillbirth can affect any mum at any time.
While there isn’t one solution to reducing stillbirth, a decrease in fetal movement can be a key warning sign that the baby is struggling in the womb and early delivery could save nearly a third of stillborn babies. The Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy found that lack of prompt management to reduced fetal movement was a contributing factor to stillbirth.
Our mission is to ensure that all pregnant woman are aware of how important their babies movements are, know the most up-to-date recommendations for monitoring movement and have the confidence to speak to a medical professional if they have any concerns. To achieve this we produce various literature which can be ordered and distributed by medical professionals, exhibit at major baby shows across the UK and build our social media presence as a way to reach more people.
A similar campaign in Norway saw the rates of stillbirth drop by 33% and in the UK a similar awareness campaign in the 1980’s around cot death saw rates of sudden infant deaths fall by a massive 70%.
While we don’t want to scare mums, we are determined to raise awareness of stillbirth and the importance of baby movements. While presenting at the NHS England Saving Babies’ Lives conference Dr Matthew Jolly said of fetal movement – “it is our duty to give people the material facts” and we couldn’t agree more.
How will Kicks Count help?
Stillbirth is a massive umbrella and while there isn’t one solution to reducing the rates, a decrease in fetal movement is a key warning sign that a baby is struggling in the womb and early delivery could save nearly a third of stillborn babies.
When the baby is being deprived of oxygen he or she will slow their movements to conserve the oxygen. Cord compression, a failing placenta, a high intake of smoke as well as other causes may all lead to reduced movements and could be potentially fatal.
The RCOG guidelines states that women should be reassured that 70% of pregnancies with a single episode of Reduced Fetal Movement (RFM) are uncomplicated. Women who report RFM on two or more occasions are at an increased risk of a poorer perinatal outcome including an increased risk of stillbirth, fetal growth restriction and/or preterm birth.
The UK is 33rd out of 35 similar high income countries for stillbirth rates
What do Kicks Count do?
The majority of mums that have suffered a stillbirth report retrospectively that they did notice a change in movement. Our campaign aims to empower mums to be with the confidence to understand their babies movements and to contact their midwife immediately if they notice a change in their baby’s regular pattern of movement.
At Kicks Count we produce leaflets with information on fetal movement and aim to give mums the confidence and knowledge to trust their instincts if they feel something is wrong. We also produce stickers for maternity notes to encourage mums to contact their midwives if they are worried.
Will it work?
In the late 1980’s the ‘back to sleep’ campaign saw cot death rates fall by a massive 70%. Meningitis Charities have reduced deaths dramatically since 1985. By raising public awareness of fetal movements Kicks Count can have a similar impact on stillbirth rates.
There are many studies that have shown educating women in the way we suggest can lower stillbirth rates. One study done by the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, San Diego saw stillbirth rates drop from 8.7 per 1000 births to 2.1 per 1000 births when fetal movement screening was implemented.
There is no single cause of stillbirth, just like there is no single cause for death in adults. But by encouraging mums to trust their instincts and report all episodes of reduced or increased movement we hope to lower the number of mums who will spend the rest of their lives wondering “what if…”