Baby Movement - Kick Counts
After pregnancy week 27 or 28, a weekly fetal "kick count" is an easy way to track and monitor your baby's individual pattern of movement. Fetuses make an average of four to six detectable motions per hour. A kick count of ten or more within 90 minutes suggests your baby's activity level is normal and healthy. A decrease in a baby's normal pattern of fetal movements may indicate the fetus is under stress and should be checked by a doctor.
How to keep a "kick count"
1. Choose a time of day or evening when your baby seems to be most active. Perform every kick count at about the same time on subsequent days.
2. Lie down on your left side, and pay close attention to the movements of your baby.
3. The first time you feel your baby move, check your watch and write the time down. Then count every movement or kick until your baby has moved ten times. When you feel the tenth movement, write down the time again. After repeating the process for several days, you may find the baby usually moves about the same number of times per hour; this becomes your baseline number.
4. If no movements are felt within 1 to 2 hours, or if the movements total less than half the number of your baseline, contact your doctor immediately. They may wish to listen to your baby's heart or perform an ultrasound that can detect small movements not felt by the mother. A non-stress test, an additional way to check on your baby's well-being by use of an electronic fetal monitor, may also be performed.
While monitoring fetal movement can be a helpful guide to fetal health, it is not the only way. As long as your baby has good fetal heart tones with each visit to your doctor, and your doctor is satisfied with the progressive increase in the size of your uterus, or fundal height, you can rest easy that all's well.
Sources: Obstetrics and Gynecology 77 (1991): 889-92; Fetal Diagnosis and Therapeutics 5 (1990): 15-32