Austin mom Jenna Edwards was 34 weeks pregnant with her first son, Greyson, in 2014 when she began to sense something was wrong.
A first-time mom, she had noticed that there had been a decrease in the amount of movements of her baby, but she also thought that because she’s 5-foot-1, her body was running out of room as her belly was growing.
“He was always a super active baby,” she says. But that whole last month, she hadn’t been feeling well, and she started to notice he was no longer flipping around like a scene in “Alien,” she says.
When the movement really started to decrease, she woke up on the day of her baby shower, a Saturday, and didn’t feel right. She had been to see a nurse practitioner earlier that week, and she hadn’t gained any more weight since her last visit. The nurse practitioner didn’t sound any alarm.
That Saturday she called her doctor’s office and spoke to a different doctor, who assured her that everything was fine, that it was OK that he wasn’t as active as before.
She called that Monday and scheduled an appointment for that day. That’s when she found out that Greyson had no heartbeat. She was sent home to return the next day to be induced and deliver her stillborn baby.
“He looked just like other children,” she says. “His cheeks were flushed. He was perfect. It was a crazy moment you look forward to your entire pregnancy. All the love was still there, but it was the most heartbreaking moment of my life knowing I was not going to bring this baby home.”
In the United States, about 1 in 100 pregnancies or 24,000 babies each year are stillborn, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s 10 times the number of babies who die because of sudden infant death syndrome.
Edwards has spent six years wondering, what if she had pushed the baby shower and gone into the emergency room that Saturday? What if she had not been worried about the cost of an ER visit? What if she had been counting Greyson’s movements all along so that she would have had better data to give to the nurse practitioner or the doctor on call that week?
“I wouldn’t wish the way I felt on anyone,” she says.
While she was recovering from Greyson’s delivery, she found Count the Kicks online at countthekicks.org, which offers an app that helps moms count the movements of their babies.
Here’s how it works: At 28 weeks, or 24 weeks if you are high risk, you download the app. Then pick a time each day when your baby is active, preferably the same time each day. Sit with your feet up or rest on your side. In the app, you will press the footprint on the screen each time you feel a movement. The app will show you how long it takes the baby to reach 10 movements and creates a graph of each day’s movements.
The app helps you get to know what is normal for your baby. If there’s a change in the strength of the movements or the amount of time it takes to get to 10, you should call your doctor’s office right away. That can mean a decrease in movement or a sudden increase. You’ll have the data to support the difference.
The app is free and comes in 12 languages. It can also track pregnancies that have multiples.
Edwards now understands what happened to Greyson. She has a very common blood disorder that caused blood clots. His cord was longer than normal and was coiled around with blood clots in it. He experienced a decrease in oxygen.
Edwards has since had two more sons. Gavin is 4, and Gabriel is 17 months. With those pregnancies, she used the app to note that she had super active babies who would give 10 kicks within 10 to 15 minutes. “That was normal for them,” she says.
If she had noticed a difference in their activity by using the app, she would have called her provider immediately.
Using the app for Gavin and Gabriel, she says, “was a neat way to connect with the baby every day. ... It was peace of mind.”