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On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with Stephaney Moody, a Salud Equity Ambassador and an advocate for Healthy Birthday and Count the Kicks about the importance of kick counting to prevent stillbirth. Stephaney Moody’s passion for stillbirth prevention came after her family experienced loss. Upon learning about the inequities that persist in stillbirth outcomes in the African-American Comunidad, she felt led to join the fight against preventable stillbirth and strive for equity.

Stephaney is also the Founder of Black Women’s Salud and Wellness Webcast which addresses issues that impact the health and wellbeing of African American women. She also serves in her community as a Pastor at New Beginnings Discipleship Ministries and as a Chaplain to the Des Moines Police Department.

We will talk about the importance of kick counting in the third trimester to prevent stillbirth. Stephaney shares how her family has been affected by stillbirth and how she became involved in Kick the Counts, an evidence based stillbirth prevention public health awareness campaign for expectant parents in the 3rd trimester. We will discuss the evidence on kick counting and how Count the Kicks and Healthy Birthday’s public health and awareness campaigns are having a direct impact on stillbirth rates in the United States and abroad. A video with this episode will also come out later today at our YouTube channel here.

*Content warning: pregnancy loss, stillbirth, racial inequities in healthcare, maternal mortality, maternal morbidity infant mortality*

Resources
Resources:

  • Count the Kicks Evidence and Resources here.
  • Download the Count the Kicks App here
  • Healthy Birthday Resources here

Find Count the Kick on Social Media:

Stephaney moderates the Black Women’s Health and Wellness group here.

Research discussed:

Tveit, J.V., et al. (2009). “Reduction of late stillbirth with the introduction of fetal movement information and guidelines – a clinical quality improvement.” BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 9:32: http://europepmc.org/article/PMC/2734741

Sadovsky, E. and Yaffe, H. (1973). “Daily fetal movement recording and fetal prognosis.” Obstet Gynecol 41(6): 845-850. https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Abstract/1973/06000/Daily_Fetal_Movement_Recording_and_Fetal_Prognosis.8.aspx

Leader, L. R., Baillie, P. and Van Schalwyk, D. J. (1981). “Fetal movement and fetal outcome: A prospective study.” Obstet Gynecol 57(4): 431-436. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7243088/

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Transcript
Rebecca Dekker:

Hi everyone. On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with Stephaney Moody, Advocate and Health Equity Ambassador for Healthy Birthday and Count The Kicks about the importance of kick counting for preventing stillbirth. Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker and I’m a nurse with my PhD and the founder of Evidence Based Birth. Join me each week as we work together to get evidence-based information into the hands of families and professionals around the world. As a reminder, this information is not medical advice. See ebbirth.com/disclaimer for more details.

Hi everyone. My name is Rebecca Dekker, pronouns she/her. I will be your host for today’s episode. Today, I’m so excited to talk with Stephaney Moody of Count The Kicks and Healthy Birthday. Before we interview Stephaney, I want to let you know that we will be talking about stillbirth and racial inequities related to preventable stillbirth. If there are any other detailed content or trigger warnings, we’ll post them in the description or show notes that go along with this episode.

And now I would like to introduce our honored guest. Today we are welcoming Stephaney Moody, Health Equity Ambassador and Advocate for Healthy Birthday, Count The Kicks and founder of Black Women’s Health and Wellness webcast. Stephaney is also pastor at New Beginnings Discipleship Ministries and chaplain to the Des Moines Police Department. Stephaney lives in Des Moines, Iowa with her husband, Vincent Moody. Her passion for stillbirth prevention came after her family experienced loss when her sister, Angie, lost her daughter, Jasmine. Upon learning about the inequities that persist in stillbirth outcomes in the African American community, Stephaney felt led to join the fight against preventable stillbirth and strive for equity. Through her community work and her webcast, she addresses issues that impact the health and wellbeing of African American families. I’m so thrilled that Stephaney is here to talk with us. Welcome Stephaney to the Evidence Based Birth podcast.

Stephaney Moody:

Thank you so much for having me today. What an exciting opportunity.

Rebecca Dekker:

I know, it’s so important that we get this information out to our audience. So I was wondering if you could start by first sharing your personal story and your family’s story and what inspired you to become an advocate against preventable stillbirth.

Stephaney Moody:

Thank you so much. So my passion for this work in stillbirth prevention came after finding out about the inequities that in stillbirth outcomes in the African American community. My passion for the fight of preventable stillbirth inequity comes from that impact that stillbirth had on our family, after my sister, Angie was expecting baby number five with her husband Jonathan. She had made it all the way to the end of the pregnancy and began to share with her doctor, she felt like she was in labor and with Angie, she’s a person that would go into labor and within hours, and I’m not joking, three to four hours would give birth without even blinking. I had to stand on my head and all kinds of things in order to give birth, but she could just give birth with no issue. This went on for days with the labor.

She kept telling the doctor, “Something’s wrong. I feel like something’s wrong. This never happens”. The doctor didn’t listen, did not do any type of testing. And this was in the early nineties prior to Count The Kicks. Unfortunately, Jasmine was born still and our family had to go through that loss. We had to go through burying a child, we had to go through the funeral, coming home from the hospital after giving birth without a baby, the whole nine yards. So that really changed the way that we looked at things when it comes to stillbirth. So I’m the vice president of an organization here in Des Moines called the Pastors and Ministers Alliance, and we were approached by Healthy Birth day, which is the nonprofit or the parent organization for our stillbirth prevention public awareness campaign called Count The Kicks. And what they did is they shared with us those staggering statistics and the racial disparities that persist.

We learned that according to the CDC, we’re losing 23,500 babies annually in the United States to still birth. And statistics show that black women are two times more likely to lose their child to still birth and three to four times more likely to die while giving birth. So they wanted our help because they found out through a focus group that the African American women here in Iowa were saying that they’ve never heard about it. They didn’t know anything about the statistics and they wanted some real in your face material and they wanted us to come to the places where African Americans may congregate.

And one of the places here in Iowa that’s more prominent for African Americans to congregate would be in the churches. So what they wanted us to do is just to take a few minutes out of our time during, I’m also a local pastor, as you shared, during our announcements, to be able to share information about Count The Kicks so that we could start to get those conversations going. And that would just be another touchpoint in order to help people to know the importance of kick counting in the third trimester and how it saved lives, as well as explain about the risk for African Americans. So we decided to join in that fight, especially knowing how stillbirth had impacted us.

Well, during the time that we were partnering with them, my son and daughter-in-law became pregnant and I asked Courtney, I said, “Have you heard about the app?” And she was already using it because she saw a poster in the doctor’s office. It was on Courtney’s due date. She was in labor. But what she noticed is that while she was in labor, Luna was not moving as much. And originally they told her, drink water, lay on her left side, time the contractions. And when I called her and I asked her, “What are they saying?” And she told me this, these are the exact same things that the doctor told my sister. So that translated me right back to 1990 when it happened with Jasmine.

So of course I felt a little anxious and I know for Court and the doctor that being a first time mom, there’s times we can feel a little anxious about giving birth. But Courtney decided to trust her instincts and she decided to trust the information she had about Luna’s fetal movement that she had been tracking and monitoring in the third trimester. She went into the emergency room anyway.

What she did is when she got there, she provided the doctor with information that she had from tracking Luna’s movements, and she was able to prove that Luna was not moving like normal. So that prompted them to do some examinations and they found that there were two health issues that would’ve prevented our Luna from having a healthy birthday. So since then I’ve continued working to educate and empower expected parents and maternal health workers on the importance of counting as well as tracking those fetal movements in the third trimester.

Rebecca Dekker:

So in both family situations though, there was almost like the first reaction was to dismiss the mother’s instincts and symptoms?

Stephaney Moody:

Absolutely. And had Courtney have not trusted what she knew to be right, Luna would’ve most likely been another statistic if they couldn’t get her into an emergency C-section in time. Luna was born-

Rebecca Dekker:

So both cases they were telling them to stay home, don’t come into the hospital.

Stephaney Moody:

Yes.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah.

Stephaney Moody:

In both cases they did not have them to come into the hospital. But Courtney, again, chose to override that and she trusted her instincts and the information she had.

Rebecca Dekker:

And I can only imagine how traumatic it would be for somebody who had those instincts but then was told, “Don’t come in. You’re still in early labor” and you follow those instructions and then something happens. That would just be horrific.

Stephaney Moody:

Absolutely. And that was something that Angie, my sister, battled with after the loss of Jasmine. She kept saying, “Maybe I should have”, or “What if I would have?” Those are the questions that rose up. And of course, it took a while for her to get over that, of not blaming herself and saying, what more could I have done? It is the instinct of every mother to try to protect their child. That’s why you eat right. That’s why you don’t smoke. That’s why you go to the doctor. That’s why you take prenatal vitamins, all of those things. And so to get all the way to the end and to be saying, something’s wrong, something’s wrong.

The difference between what Courtney had and what Angie had is Courtney had evidence. She was able to say, Luna normally takes this long to get to 10 movements. She’s not doing that now. Where Angie didn’t have that. All she had was a feeling because things were different with this baby. And yes, every baby is different, every pregnancy is different, every labor, every birth is different. However, Angie knew something was wrong. It wasn’t just different, it was wrong. And unfortunately Jasmine was born still.

Rebecca Dekker:

Counting your baby’s kicks. Can you explain for our listeners, how do you go about doing that? How would you describe that to a first time pregnant parent?

Stephaney Moody:

Thank you so much for asking that question because to me it’s really critical. A lot of people stay away from talking about still birth because it’s one of those taboo subjects. People just don’t want to talk about it. No one wants to talk about the death or potential death of a baby. But pregnancy is definitely full of risk and it’s something that we need to talk about. And what we’ve done is we’ve made it easy through use of our app to be able to talk about it, because when you look at our materials and even our app, you’ll notice that it’s fun, it’s bright, it’s colorful, it’s empowering. And so, it promotes that bonding with mom and baby. And it even promotes bonding with the family. You can get the siblings involved. One can feel the baby move, the other one tap the button. So the way that you do it, our app is free, it’s easy to use. All you do is you download the app onto your phone.

Rebecca Dekker:

And it’s called Count The Kicks app?

Stephaney Moody:

Our app is called Count The Kicks.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay.

Stephaney Moody:

And so, when you download it, you pick a time after you set up your account, you’re going to pick a time where baby is most active, which is usually after dinner, right? Baby’s going to be real active and you usually will have more downtime because you’ll want to sit still after you ate, right? So what you do, you pick that time where baby is most active, you sit with your feet up or you lay on your left side. Every time you feel a kick, a roll, a jab, all you have to do is tap the little baby footprint. You can count for singles or you can count for twins. You’ll want to record every movement except for hiccups, because hiccups are involuntary.

Now as you’re tracking, if you accidentally tap one time too many and you track a kick that wasn’t really a kick, you accidentally tapped it, you can undo it. Or, if you’ve got siblings and you have to help a child go to the restroom, you get interrupted while doing your daily kick counting session, you can restart it and start all over again. So you just simply track until you get to 10 kicks. Once you get to 10 kicks, the app is going to have you to rate the strength of your baby’s kicks. You’re going to rate them from fluttery to fierce. Fluttery is going to be the soft movements that you feel that’s hard to feelm kind of like when you first start feeling baby move. Fierce is going to be the more aggressive movements that’s more like a limb is going to literally start trying to come out of your belly. Once you rate your session, you’re going to see a graph that tells you the average time that it takes for your baby to get to 10 movements and the average strength of your baby’s movements.

If you notice that it’s taking baby to get longer… Get to 10 movements, if it’s taking longer for them to get to 10 movements… Say it again. If you notice that it’s taken baby longer to get to 10 movements or your baby’s movements are weaker, this could be a sign that baby needs to be evaluated and you need to call your doctor right away. Now, some people might think that it’s going to increase an expect parent’s anxiety, but I’m here to tell you that that’s actually not the case. Through our own research by the Des Moines University and Harkin Institute, we surveyed our app users and the researchers actually found that 84% of app users stated that regular tracking was associated with feelings of bonding and that 77% of the app users reported feeling less anxious.

In fact, the researchers stated that using a mobile health app to empower expected parents to monitor their baby’s fetal movement shows that it increased awareness of a change in fetal movement and a reduction in stillbirth outcomes. So what we do, we educate and we inform. So now that you have an educated, expectant parent, a person that has data at their fingertips to be able to show and to say to their provider or even to those who are in the hospital systems, look, this is not my baby’s normal movement. That is what my daughter-in-law Courtney did, and our granddaughter Luna is here today because of that.

Rebecca Dekker:

So can you tell us a little bit more about who is Count The Kicks and what is it that they’re doing other than an app? Because I feel like there’s more going on there that we should know about.

Stephaney Moody:

There’s definitely more going on here than just the app. So Count The Kicks is our evidence-based stillbirth prevention public health awareness campaign for expectant parents in the third trimester. And it was founded by five Iowa women who all lost their babies to stillbirth or infant mortality in the early 2000s. After each of them suffered a loss in the third trimester, they were brought together by their friends and pastors. And what they did is they decided to turn their grief into stillbirth prevention efforts to keep other families from facing the pain of losing a baby.

In 2004, they worked with the Iowa legislature to create Iowa’s Stillbirth registry, which is the most comprehensive stillbirth data collection program in the country. They garnered the support of the United States Senator Tom Harkin in securing CDC funding for that project. And as other people heard about the registry work, they started advocating for a national stillbirth registry, which is really important because up until that time, stillbirth and fetal death numbers were not separated.

Stillbirth is the death of a baby after 20 weeks of gestation and infant mortality is the death of an infant before his or her first birthday. So a few years later they were working on this. They’ve heard about a public health conference in Norway where the doctor was talking about seeing a 30% reduction in stillbirth by teaching expectant parents how to monitor and track their fetal movement during the third trimester of pregnancy by doing those kick counting sessions that we just talked about on a daily basis. So we didn’t create kick counting. What we did is we created a free app to make it easy for expecting parents to do it. Our app takes that guesswork out of knowing how and what the average time is for their baby to get to 10 kicks. So after they attended the conference, what they did, they came back, they were all inspired by the research and they birthed Count The Kicks and began teaching expecting parents how to monitor and track their baby’s fetal movement in the third trimester.

In 2008, we launched our campaign here in Iowa and our state went from the 33rd worst stillbirth rate to one of the lowest in the nation. We saw a 32% reduction in the stillbirth rates within the first 10 years of the launch of our campaign and a 39% reduction among African Americans in the first five years of the campaign. So we’re now in 18 states and our vision is to replicate the success of Count The Kicks, what we did in Iowa in all, 50 states. If we can reduce America’s stillbirth rate by 32% as we’ve done here in Iowa, we would be saving 7,500 babies from preventable stillbirth annually in the United States and abroad.

It’s pretty amazing the work that we’re doing because what we’ve done is we’re working with the local FMRS and the health departments in the different states. We are in 18 states right now. And so, we do different webinars to make sure that we’re educating the providers, the doulas, the midwives, as well as doing webinars for parents as well so that we can educate everyone who would be involved in a touchpoint of that pregnancy for that expected parent to ensure that at every stage of the game in the third trimester, someone is talking with them about counting kicks in the third trimester.

Rebecca Dekker:

And I think it’s interesting that you brought up the fact that this is not a new invention. And I did some research on kick counts a few years ago and found that there were some researchers in 1973 who were the first to suggest that fetal demise could be predicted by a decrease in fetal movements, which it used to be the only way they could check fetal health at that time or wellbeing was with the heartbeat. So they started using the kick counts, and although the randomized trials really found mixed evidence, it seems like the most success is when it’s implemented across the board in a public health manner is when you start to see declines in the stillbirth rate.

And you mentioned the Norway study, so I had went and looked that up before we talked and that was an interesting study because it sounds like the people you’re working with saw the presentation of that data before it was published. Because it wasn’t published until 2009. It was paper by Tveit et al. And we’ll link to the free full text in the show notes called Reduction of Late Stillbirth with Introduction of Fetal Movement Information and Guidelines, a Clinical Quality Improvement. And it was about implementing this similar sort of Count The Kicks campaign in Norway at 14 hospitals and finding a 30% decline in still birth rates over the course of the study. So it sounds like the results were consistent here where it’s been implemented in the US as well.

Stephaney Moody:

Absolutely. And Ruth Fretz, who was a part of that team that implemented that study is actually a part of our board today, which is an amazing resource and she is a great advocate for us as well.

Rebecca Dekker:

So the evidence does support kick counting?

Stephaney Moody:

Yes. If a person doesn’t have access to mobile or internet, we also have bracelets where they can do it. So we call that kick counting old school where they can use either the paper chart or they can use the little bracelet and those are free on our website and people can actually go and order those and utilize those kick counting bracelets or download the kick counting chart. So what they would have to do is maybe stroke tally every kick, write down the time that they begin and then the time that they end. But then they would be responsible for determining what the average time is. So it may take their baby 15 minutes to get to 10 kicks, or it could take 30 minutes, however long it takes. It just matters that you know what the average time is.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay. And then what would trigger you to call your doctor? What is considered a significant increase in the amount of time? What are the reasons someone would need to go get medical help?

Stephaney Moody:

Well, I want to say first that I’m not a doctor. So you would definitely want to call your doctor and say, I’ve noticed that it was taking baby 20 minutes to get to 10 kicks and now it’s taking an hour. So for us, it was taking Luna significantly longer to get to the 10 kicks and Courtney spoke up right away knowing that reduced fetal movement is one of the first signs that baby can be in trouble or even that mom could be in trouble. And it’s an indication of a need for more evaluation. So this not only saved Luna’s life, but also in fact could have saved Courtney’s life because of the trauma that she would’ve had through giving birth.

Rebecca Dekker:

So it doesn’t mean you go straight to a C-section, it just means you get evaluated.

Stephaney Moody:

Absolutely.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay.

Stephaney Moody:

And so, the first thing they did is they put Luna on the monitor and as they began to monitor her, they saw that she wasn’t recovering as quickly as she should. So think about it from this perspective, when we don’t feel well, we’re not up running a marathon, we move slower, we don’t do as many things. And it’s the same thing for baby in utero. When the baby is in utero, if something’s wrong, they have a natural instinct to preserve their energy, they’re going to preserve so that all of their efforts and energy is going towards keeping the heart pumping, keeping the blood flowing. So they’re going to move less if they don’t feel well, if there’s a knot in the cord, they’re not going to move as quickly. Or if there’s a kink or if there’s low amniotic fluid, if something’s going on in utero, reduce fetal movement as one of the first signs. And actually the CDC lists a change in baby’s movement as one of its 15 urgent maternal warning signs.

Rebecca Dekker:

And I really like how the app or even tracking on a paper gives you that data so that you can go and hopefully not be dismissed because you can be like, this is what’s going on, this is what the evidence shows for my situation. And we know that the evidence is that this is a sign that something could be wrong. And I want to mention, there’s another study that’s older, but it’s considered a classic by Leader et al. Published in 1981, and this took place in South Africa with 246 high risk patients. So they were very high risk and they had all of the participants kick their counts. So it was not a randomized trial, but with these high risk people, they were instructed on kick counting and they found that infants who had abnormal movements, 15 were still born. And obviously this is in a low resource setting, but it was one of the first studies to show that kick counting has a high sensitivity and specificity for poor outcomes. So that’s why it’s important to not ignore if you have a reduced fetal movement as you were talking about.

Stephaney Moody:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Wow, I had not heard about that research.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah.

Stephaney Moody:

That is awesome.

Rebecca Dekker:

I mean, the sad thing is in this study, the kick counts were not used to trigger intervention, it was just, let’s track all of the kicks and then see what happens. So sadly that’s why they had such a high death rate in that study.

Stephaney Moody:

Which is why it’s so important for kick counting to be discussed at every appointment in the third trimester by all maternal healthcare providers, whether you’re working for a WIC clinic or you are a home healthcare worker, or you are the OBGYN or the midwife or the doula, at every touch point in the third trimester for all expected parents, that conversation needs to be had.

Rebecca Dekker:

It just needs to be part of that prenatal visit every time.

Stephaney Moody:

Absolutely.

Rebecca Dekker:

Is there anything else you want to share about the work that Count The Kicks or Healthy Birthday is doing?

Stephaney Moody:

Absolutely. So our hope is that kick counting is going to become as common as talking about the importance of taking prenatal vitamins or not smoking during pregnancy. And we know that decreased fetal movement can indicate a need for more evaluation and has the potential to save lives not only of the mother or the baby, but also the life of the mother as well.

Rebecca Dekker:

So a lot of your work is educating parents, but also providers. And I know a lot of our listeners are providers or birth workers. Can you talk a little bit about the educational resources for them? Is there any continuing education or how can they start making sure that they implement this into their visits with their clients?

Stephaney Moody:

So the way that they can start implementing these things with their clients is on our website at www.countthekicks.org. So you can learn more by going to our website at www.countthekicks.org. We have some fantastic resources available for both parents and for the providers that serve them. So for expected parents and providers, you know that we have our app, it’s free, it’s available in 14 languages. You simply download the app, set up an account, begin tracking your baby’s fetal movements in the third trimester. And it’s honestly as easy as counting to 10. We want providers to download it so that they can show those whom they work with, how easy it is to use the app. And we want them to be able to show the parents how to use the Count The Kicks app and that they would feel comfortable talking about it before their baby arrives.

Another way that practitioners can learn more about it is by going through our continuing ed training for all healthcare providers, the online continuing ed training is worth 2.2 continuing ed credits. And what it does, it allows the provider to gain a deeper understanding of our evidence-based stillbirth prevention campaign, as well as it teaches them how to talk to expectant parents about fetal movement, especially if they have a client or a patient who has had a previous stillbirth. There’s an entire section on recognizing how to address implicit bias as well. So whether it’s within them or their peers or even something that they see within their organization that needs to be addressed, it also brings about awareness on how biases and racism have shaped maternal healthcare.

They’ll also learn how to utilize our free tools and resources on our website. And part of the tools that we have is we have what’s called a Provider Academy that includes free curriculum for childbirth education classes. Every expected parent needs to learn how to count the kicks, not just high risk expectant parents, which is why childbirth education classes are a vital time to educate expectant parents about Count The Kicks and knowing what’s normal for their baby. We also have a parent academy that you can refer them to. We have how to videos, we also have a website, healthybirthday.org, www.healthybirthday.org. And so with that, you can also reach us on our social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, where we have lots of videos on Baby Save so that you can see this is evidence-based. This isn’t something that we just came up with and decided that we were going to just do it because it was fun.

One of the things that I do also want to talk about though that is on our Healthy Birthday website, and I believe our Count The Kicks website as well, is that research also shows that women who have still births are substantially at a higher risk for severe maternal morbidity than women who have had live births regardless of the cause of the fetal death.

So in the United States, the rate of maternal morbidity and stillbirth is higher than other well-researched developed countries. And more than 15% of maternal deaths within 42 days of delivery occur in women who experienced stillbirth. So according to the CDC, every year in the United States, approximately 700 women will die from childbirth complications either before, during, or after childbirth. Research shows that every year, 22 families will experience the double tragedy of losing both mom and baby. So we have a evidence page on our website, which includes our stillbirth in the United States report on the link between stillbirth and maternal mortality and morbidity.

Research shows that the risk of severe maternal morbidity is more than four times higher among stillbirth deliveries compared with live births. And women at risk for severe maternal outcomes may also be at a higher risk for stillbirth based on preexisting or demographic characteristics and conditions related to their stillbirth. And some of those things include racism, parity, which is the number of previous pregnancies, advanced maternal age, preexisting diabetes and hypertension, gestational diabetes, even preeclampsia, lack of private insurance, and less than a college education. So the report that we have there includes firsthand accounts from eight women who shared how speaking up about a change in their baby’s movement not only helped to save their baby’s life and their baby had a safe arrival, but it also identified and addressed pregnancy complications that put their own life at risk.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah, that is so important. I feel like that’s something people don’t think about. They think kick counting is for the health of the fetus, but you’re right, it could be that you’re having preeclampsia or some other complication and that’s why your baby’s movements have decreased. So it’s important for the health of both of you to get help.

Stephaney Moody:

Absolutely. Just remember, the main thing is knowing what is normal for your baby.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay.

Stephaney Moody:

Once you know what that normal is, if normal changes, be empowered to speak up. If you feel like your provider is not hearing you, go into the hospital. Hospitals are open 24/7, ready to serve you.

Rebecca Dekker:

One thing that I remember hearing when I was pregnant, and I’m not sure if this is a myth or not, but they talked about as you get bigger and there’s less room for baby, that baby can’t do quite as vigorous of movements sometimes because they’re scrunched in there real tight. Is that something that the app looks at or is it just counting the number, not necessarily the strength or the activity? In terms of the vigorousness.

Stephaney Moody:

Yes. You’re actually tracking both. So that is a myth that babies run out of room. They don’t run out of room, they actually just move different.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay.

Stephaney Moody:

Okay. So you may have more jabs, fewer rolls. So babies don’t run out of room at the end of pregnancy. The types of movements may change, they may have more jabs, fewer rolls, but babies should move up to, and even during labor. If an expect parent is monitoring their baby’s movements at the same time each day, it should take about the same amount of time to fill 10 movements regardless. So still continue to track regardless of how big baby may get or not get as far as size. That is definitely a myth.

Rebecca Dekker:

I’m so glad that you clarified that myth because it sounds like that could create a lot of confusion. And some people might think, “Well, I’m in labor so they won’t be moving as much because the contractions are kind of squeezing them”. But that’s not true either. You should have a similar average result during labor as you would not in labor.

Stephaney Moody:

And that’s exactly right. One of the other common myths is that if baby isn’t moving, I should drink cold water or eat something sugary to get baby moving. Research has moved away from the idea that sugary drinks and the like are a good way to get baby to move. Kick counts are the best way to monitor without interventions like sugar and juice and candy. If baby’s not moving like normal, we need to speak up and we need to let our providers know so that we can find out what’s going on again. If baby’s not feeling well, baby’s not going to move as much and baby needs to be monitored. There needs to be some testing, maybe even stress test or something needs to be investigated further to figure out what’s going on.

And our webinars that we provide through our partners, we partner with the FMRS, we partner with the state health departments, we actually go over those common myths during those webinars, for the providers and even for parents, so that we can educate them on those common myths as well.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay. I definitely want to encourage our listeners to go to the countthekicks.org website because they have an amazing page called Evidence that has all the research evidence, direct links to the app, there’s maps and videos and the continuing ed for providers as well as education for parents. And then I think something that really struck me that you said is you have the research to back this up, but you also have testimonials. There is a whole page on your website of stories that app users have submitted of times that using kick counting has saved lives, and that’s incredible.

Stephaney Moody:

Absolutely.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah.

Stephaney Moody:

So please definitely visit our website at www.countthekicks.org and you’ll be able to look at all of those wonderful stories of Baby Saves that have taken place with those who use our Count The Kicks app.

Rebecca Dekker:

Stephaney, before we go, I was wondering if you have any words of advice or comfort for somebody listening who perhaps experienced the stillbirth, whether it was preventable or not. I mean, obviously there’s plenty of stillbirths that are not preventable as well, and then there are ones that were preventable but tragically not prevented. So do you have any words of comfort coming from having experienced this with your family and being involved at the national level, and the state level?

Stephaney Moody:

Absolutely. One of the things that I would strongly suggest that each person, and of course being a faith-based person, I always lean on religion for me, but that may not be a listener’s case, right? So one of the things that I would strongly suggest, and that was a great help for my sister, was getting assistance through a counselor. Be sure to talk about your feelings. Don’t be afraid to talk about your baby. Your baby was there for nine months with you, you bonded with baby. Don’t be afraid to say their name. Don’t be afraid to talk about the feelings and emotions that you have had or that you are experiencing. And that way you’re able to get those things out of you and to help you to process what’s going on on the inside of you. Please find someone, whether it be a pastor, a counselor, someone, a friend, a neighbor, someone who’s going to be able to hear those stories and that’s going to be able to walk this out with you so that you can get the assistance that you need to process what you’re feeling and what you’ve experienced.

Rebecca Dekker:

And I can only imagine that anxiety that might happen with a subsequent pregnancy with, as we call, rainbow babies, but also I even know a lot of first time parents that have really high rates of anxiety, but what you’re saying is counting the kicks does not increase anxiety, but instead, data shows that it makes you feel better.

Stephaney Moody:

Absolutely.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay.

Stephaney Moody:

And with that, if you have had a previous stillbirth, you’ll want to start at 26 weeks versus beginning at 28 weeks. You’ll want to start counting at 26 weeks. And again, you’re at a higher risk of another stillbirth. So you’ll want to use the app and what it’ll do is it’ll give you that evidence and you’ll know baby is right on track. So if it’s normally taking 15 minutes, I’m just throwing out a number because every baby, again, is different. It may take your friend 30 minutes and it could take you 15. Whatever is normal for your baby, it’s important that you know that. So if normal changes, call your doctor right away.

Rebecca Dekker:

And if your provider is not listening or if they’re dismissing your symptoms, get help anyways, whatever avenue you can.

Stephaney Moody:

Get help. Absolutely. Go into the hospital and let them monitor baby. It’s better to have that reassurance of knowing, okay, maybe I was a little anxious than to not go and not save your baby’s life.

Rebecca Dekker:

Okay.

Stephaney Moody:

If it’s preventable. Yes.

Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. Thank you Stephaney, so much for your work, and I can tell it’s just really special that you bring your perspective as a pastor into this whole conversation and advocacy work, and we really appreciate everything you’re doing to help prevent stillbirths.

Stephaney Moody:

Thank you so much for having me. I truly appreciate it.

Rebecca Dekker:

Thanks everyone for listening. Please, please go to countthekicks.org and you’ll see all kinds of free resources, educational materials, and a link to the free app, which as Stephaney said, is available in many different languages. And I hope that you all learned something today and we’ll go put this into practice. Thanks everyone. We’ll see you next week. Bye.

Today’s podcast was brought to you by the Evidence Based Birth professional membership. The free articles and podcasts we provide to the public are supported by our professional membership program at Evidence Based Birth. Our members are professionals in the childbirth field who are committed to being change agents in their community. Professional members at EBB get access to continuing education courses with up to 23 contact hours, live monthly training sessions, and exclusive library of printer friendly PDFs to share with your clients and a supportive community for asking questions and sharing challenges, struggles and success stories. We offer monthly and annual plans as well as scholarships for students and for people of color. To learn more, visit ebbirth.com/membership.

 

 

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