In your third trimester, your health practitioner may recommend that you start counting your baby’s kicks. Here, the experts weigh in on the importance of being aware of your baby’s movements.

Why do kick counting?

Dr. Diep Nguyen, M.D.:

Movement is the best sign of your baby’s well-being. Kick counting is the systematic counting of your baby’s movements and it is one of the methods recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to help you check on your baby’s health. Research shows that decreased fetal movement may be a warning sign of potential complications, including stillbirth, the unexpected death of a baby beyond 20 weeks. Counting kicks allows expectant mothers to note a change in the baby’s movements, alerting them to potential problems which may need further evaluation. If there is a change in your baby’s normal pattern, you should contact your health care provider immediately.

Barbara Dehn, R.N., M.S., N.P.:

Kick counts are one of the best things moms can do to be reassured about the baby’s health. [It’s] actually a very sensitive indicator of fetal well-being.

Dr. Anthony Chin, M.D.:

If the baby is moving, then you know that the baby is okay. So, it is your way of assessing fetal well-being. However, [keep in mind that] the baby doesn’t move [all the time].

When should a pregnant woman start counting kicks?

Dr. Diep Nguyen, M.D.:

Most pregnant women should begin kick counting at 28 weeks. If your health care provider has determined your pregnancy to be high-risk, you may be asked to start counting kicks at 24 weeks. Most babies take less than 15 minutes to make 10 movements – jabs, rolls, kicks, twists, and turns.

Dr. Anthony Chin, M.D.:

Kick counting is done one hour after dinner when the baby is likely to be in an active mood. Lie on your side with your hands on your belly and you should be able to count 10 movements within the hour.

When to call your health practitioner

Barbara Dehn, R.N., M.S., N.P.:

Call your provider:

• If your baby hasn’t moved 10 times within three hours.

• If you feel less movement than you usually do.

• You have any feeling of pressure or pain that comes and goes five or more times in one hour.

Dr. Diep Nguyen, M.D.:

Moms should inform their providers if their babies are taking longer than usual or are taking more than two hours to complete 10 movements.

Ways to keep track of kicks

Download “Kickcounts Worksheet”

Designed specifically for moms, Barbara Dehn’s downloadable worksheet includes complete instructions and a chart for keeping track.

Try a Kick Tracking Tool

A handy device like a kick counter allows you to choose the time of day when your baby is most active and record each time you feel your baby move.

About The Experts

Anthony Chin

A graduate of UCLA's School of Medicine, Dr. Chin now serves on their academic faculty where he received the Golden Apple Faculty Teaching Award in 2002. During his residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, he received a number of honors, including the Chief Resident Teaching Award, the Standing Ovation Award for Excellence in Patient Care, and multiple research awards. Dr. Chin continues to work at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he serves as the Secretary of the department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, as well on the department's Performance Improvement Committee. He is a member of the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, a Fellow of the Los Angeles Obstetrics & Gynecology Society, and a Fellow and Diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Dr. Chin is in private practice in Beverly Hills and is a member of The Cradle's Board of Advisors.

Barbara Dehn

Barbara Dehn is a practicing Women's Health Nurse Practitioner, award winning author, and a nationally recognized health expert. Barbara wrote and publishes a series of innovative and award-winning women's health guides on Fertility, Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding. Her Blue Orchid Guides have been used by millions of women across the country and were designed to 'Empower Women with Information.' Barbara practices with Women Physicians in the heart of Silicon Valley. She has over 20 years experience listening to and caring for women. She's helped countless women and couples navigate their way through pregnancy and the transitions of parenthood.

Dr. Diep Nguyen

Diep Nguyen, the creator of kickTrak, is a Los Angeles-based, board certified obstetrician/gynecologist and mother of three. She founded the BabyKick Foundation and established www.makeeverykickcount.org to join forces with national and international organizations to promote a healthy pregnancy and prevent stillbirth through awareness, education, and advocacy of kick counting. A portion of proceeds from sales of the kickTrak is donated to the BabyKick Foundation and First Candle.