The evidence-based Count the Kicks stillbirth prevention campaign is expanding to Delaware and Maryland with the help of funds raised through Lainey’s Lap of Love, a fundraising 5K held Oct. 23 at Trap Pond State Park in Laurel, Del. The inaugural event raised more than $20,000 to support the public health campaign’s mission to prevent preventable stillbirths and improve birth outcomes.
Funds raised will go directly to educate expectant parents on the importance of fetal movement monitoring in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Through this expansion, birthing hospitals, Ob/Gyns, Midwives, doulas, childbirth educators, community organizations and anyone who works with expectant parents in Delaware and Maryland can now order free Count the Kicks educational materials (available at www.CountTheKicks.org) to share with the families they serve.
These materials, which include posters, brochures, and app download reminder cards, help providers and expectant parents have a conversation about fetal movement.
Stillbirth is a national public health crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. For Delaware families, 1 in every 185 pregnancies end in stillbirth. For Maryland families, 1 in every 144 ends in stillbirth. Families in the U.S. are 10 times more likely to lose a baby to stillbirth than to SIDS. Recent data also shows the devastating impact of COVID-19 on placentas and babies.
Doctors have discovered what they are calling SARS-CoV-2 placentitis, a condition in which the virus attacks the placenta and cuts off oxygen to the baby.
Brittany Elliott Mitchell, a Count the Kicks volunteer and supporter from Delmar, Del., knows first-hand the pain of experiencing a stillbirth. She created Lainey’s Lap of Love in honor of her daughter Lainey, who was born still in 2021. “I decided to start Lainey's Lap of Love because I wanted a way to share my love for my daughter Lainey and to be able to talk about her, along with many other babies that were gone way too soon,” Brittany said.
“During this process, I was introduced to the Count the Kicks campaign and immediately felt very passionate about what they are trying to accomplish. I quickly decided I needed to be on board and help drive awareness and help fund research on stillbirth prevention.”
In the U.S, the annual number of stillbirths (defined as the loss of a baby at 20 weeks or greater during pregnancy) far exceeds the number of deaths among children aged 0-14 years from preterm birth, SIDS, accidents, drownings, guns, fire, and flu combined. Research shows that nearly 30% of stillbirths can be prevented when expectant parents are educated on the importance of tracking their baby’s movements daily starting at 28 weeks.
Research shows a change in a baby’s movements in the third trimester is an early red flag and by using Count the Kicks, expectant parents can increase the chances of their baby arriving safely. Count the Kicks has a free app available in the iOS and Google Play app stores that provides expectant parents a simple, non-invasive way to monitor their babies’ well-being every day.
After a few days using the app, expectant parents begin to see a pattern, a normal amount of time it takes their baby to get to 10 movements. If their baby’s “normal" changes during the third trimester, this could be a sign of potential problems and is an indication that the expectant parent should call her healthcare provider.
According to CDC Wonder, approximately 58 Delaware babies and 496 Maryland babies are stillborn each year. In Iowa, where Count the Kicks began, the state’s stillbirth rate dropped by nearly 32 percent in the first 10 years of the campaign (2008-2018). Iowa’s rate went from 33rd worst in the country to one of the lowest, while the country’s stillbirth rate remained relatively stagnant. Through this collaboration, the organization hopes to bring the same success to Delaware and Maryland, which would save approximately 178 babies each year.