TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Health is partnering with Count the Kicks, an evidence-based stillbirth prevention public health campaign, to educate and empower pregnant women in Florida about the importance of tracking fetal movement in the third trimester of pregnancy. One out of every 147 pregnancies in Florida end in stillbirth, according to Florida vital statistics. Count the Kicks was launched in April 2020, near the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Count the Kicks teaches the method for, and importance of, tracking fetal movement during the third trimester of pregnancy. Research shows the benefits of expectant moms tracking their baby’s movements daily and learning how long it normally takes their baby to get to 10 movements. After a few days, moms will begin to see a pattern, a normal amount of time it takes their baby to get to 10 movements. If their baby’s “normal” changes during the third trimester, this could be a sign of potential problems and is an indication that the expectant mom should call her healthcare provider.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, expectant moms have reported changes to their regularly scheduled prenatal visits and an increase in telehealth visits. Now is an especially important time for expectant women to track their baby’s movements every day in the third trimester. By doing so, expectant moms will have the peace of mind to know when things are OK and when things have changed.
Thanks to the partnership with the Florida Department of Health, maternal health providers, birthing hospitals, social services agencies, childbirth educators and other providers in Florida can order free Count the Kicks educational materials (available at www.countthekicks.org) to help them have the kick counting conversation with expectant Florida parents. Since the launch of the campaign last year, more than 313,000 educational pieces have been distributed throughout the state.
Count the Kicks also has a free app available in the iOS and Google Play app stores that provides expectant moms a simple, non-invasive way to monitor their baby’s well-being every day. The Count the Kicks app is available in 12 languages, including English, Spanish and Haitian-Creole, and its features include a kick-counting history, daily reminders and the ability to count for single babies and twins. More than 1,500 expectant women have downloaded the app in Florida since the launch.
“This campaign saved my son Ryan,” said Florida Count the Kicks Ambassador and Bradenton mom Sarah Sirianni. “Count the Kicks is so important; my doctor says Ryan wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t been paying attention to his movements and spoke up when I noticed a change.”
According to the Florida Department of Health, Division of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, in 2019, approximately 1,515 babies were born still in Florida. In Iowa, where Count the Kicks began, the state’s stillbirth rate dropped by nearly 32 percent in the first 10 years of the campaign (2008-2018). Iowa’s rate went from 33rd worst in the country to one of the lowest, while the country’s rate remained relatively stagnant. The Florida Department of Health is hoping to bring the same success that Iowa has seen to Florida, which would save more than 500 babies in the state each year.