Counting Kicks Saves Babies 

Woman's pregnant belly held by the couple's hands

Feeling a baby moving is one of the true joys and wonders of pregnancy.  From the first soft flutters to the clear kicks and rolls, women often recognize and look forward to routine movement to connect with their baby during pregnancy.  Count the Kicks brings attention to changes in baby movement and triggers women to seek medical care, which saves lives. 

Valerie Wagner, RN, Bright Start home visiting nurse

“Having resources from multiple platforms, such as the Count the Kicks app, helps connect new moms to innovative ways for maintaining the health of their baby and themselves,” says Valerie Wagner, RN, Bright Start home visiting nurse for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC).  

Count the Kicks is an evidence-based stillbirth prevention campaign that provides education resources to healthcare providers and expectant mothers. Reduced activity in the late stages of pregnancy can be a sign of distress. The Count the Kicks application is a valuable tool for creating a daily record of baby movements during the third trimester.

Wagner and the team of Bright Start nurses keep moms and babies healthy by meeting with eligible women in their community or home to provide support and education. Home visits allow expectant first-time moms to ask questions, improve parenting skills, and connect to valuable resources. Individuals can use the Bright Start Referral Form to begin the enrollment process for themselves or a loved one.   

In addition to Count the Kicks, Bright Start nurses share text4baby with all Bright Start clients. This free app and messaging service provides education throughout pregnancy and includes a reminder option for appointments. Women who text BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411 receive free personalized text messages three times per week, timed to their due date or their baby’s birth date, through pregnancy up until the baby’s first birthday.  

Text4baby topics include:  

  • Signs and symptoms of labor
  • Doctor visit and appointment reminders for mothers and their baby
  • Breastfeeding advice
  • Nutrition for mothers and their baby
  • Safe sleep tips
  • Baby’s milestones
  • Care seat safety
  • Information on health insurance
  • Urgent health alerts
  • Resource hotlines and websites

The South Dakota Department of Health (SD DOH) considered infant mortality the gold standard for measuring the health of a population.  In 2021 the infant mortality rate for South Dakota was 6.3, with the American Indian population reporting a rate of 17.2. Provisional data for 2022 shows an increase to 7.8 and 20.7, respectively. The SD DOH has two Infant Death Review teams working to understand the circumstances of each death and acting to prevent other deaths. 

Having access to daily resources and tools increases confidence between Bright Start home visits and encourages women to understand and advocate for their health needs and the needs of their baby through the vital phases of pregnancy, postpartum, and infancy.