Since February 2019, Tausha Patterson has been advocating for the education of mothers and medical professionals about new ways to care for babies during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. The Maple Grove resident is the Count the Kicks Ambassador for Minnesota.
Patterson was introduced to the program after the loss of a daughter, Amelia, who was stillborn in 2019. At the time, Patterson and her husband, Luke, were parents to three children. During her four pregnancies, she recalls being asked, “’Is the baby moving?’ and that was it,” Patterson says. “I wasn’t shown how and how important it was to track the baby’s movements or what it could indicate if baby’s movement changed.”
During her pregnancy after Amelia, Patterson was determined to learn the practice of “counting the kicks,” a way of tracking a baby’s movement in utero.
After discovering the program through a perinatal loss therapist, Patterson incorporated it into her daily activities. Each morning at 8:30 a.m., she would use the foot button on the Count the Kicks app to track her baby’s movements until she got to 10 counts. She was able to note exactly what movements her baby made, whether it was a kick, jab, swish or roll, and then compare them to the movements of other days in the app’s history graph.
If Patterson’s baby ever took significantly longer or less time to get to 10 movements, she would know that she may benefit from seeing her doctor. “There were some times when [baby’s] movement was off,” she says. “I knew how long it normally took her to get to 10 movements and when she was normally active, so I could speak up, and I could go in and be seen and make sure she was okay.”
Patterson explains that a significant part of counting the kicks is knowing how to advocate for yourself. “There are so many women out there that don’t know,” she says and credits the app with encouraging them to speak up.
The Count the Kicks app stems from a public health campaign started in 2008 by five women, who all experienced the loss of children. Jan Caruthers, Janet Peterson, Kate Safris, Kerry Biondi Morlan and Tiffan Yamen work together to create the Iowa’s Stillbirth Registry and to advocate for stillbirth prevention. The concept is based on public health research published by BioMed Central in Norway, which shows a 30 percent reduction of stillbirths when mothers are taught how to track their baby’s movements.
Patterson’s rainbow baby, a daughter, Eleanor, was born August 2020. She now uses her own story to help others learn about the importance of counting the kicks. “I wanted other women to not have to experience that and [to know] how simple it can be to know your baby’s movement, to be able to track that and know when something’s wrong ...” Medical and pregnancy professionals can take the Count the Kicks training, a continuing education course that teaches awareness of the issue.
Along with Patterson, there are 36 Count the Kicks ambassadors across the country and one in Canada. The app is available in 12 languages and can be found for free download in iOS and Android app stores.
Consult your medical care provider with questions and plans for a healthy pregnancy.