Five Founders of Count the Kicks Campaign Take Message Nationwide

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  From heartbreak to hope, five women are on a mission to save babies. Most pregnant women in Iowa have heard of the Count the Kicks campaign, but now their message is going nationwide.

No matter how much time passes, it's easy to tell the five women who founded the Count the Kicks campaign share a bond.  "All five of us are sisters, and we have a club nobody else wants to join," said Jan Caruthers.

The five met more than a decade ago. "We were there for each other through the darkest days of losing our babies," said Janet Petersen.

Each lost a baby girl. They were told stillbirth was rare, but one-by-one they found each other. "We decided if nobody's going to start this conversation, then I guess these five moms are going to start the conversation," said Tiffan Yamen.

At first, they met in coffee shops.  "We met just to get through the day, and now, we are saving others," said Kate Safris.

In 2009, they launched Count the Kicks. It encourages moms-to-be to monitor their babies' movements.

Kerry Biondi-Morlan said, “Our mission is to raise awareness and prevent stillbirth through advocacy and prevention.”

"Studies have shown by tracking fetal movement in the 3rd trimester, we actually have the potential to reduce the stillbirth rate,” said Safris.

They want women in their third trimester to pick a time when their baby is active and count the baby's movements at the same time every day. They have a smartphone application to make it easy. "There's a little foot, you tap the foot every time you feel any kind of movement," demonstrated Yamen.

They want you to see how long it takes to get to ten. Call your provider if you notice a change. “From a mom who didn't ask the questions and lost a baby, please ask your doctor and just call," said Yamen as she got choked up.

By now, most moms in Iowa have heard the message.  The women say the state's stillbirth rate is down 26% since the campaign started. Now, the women are taking the campaign nationwide. If they find the same success, they'll save more than 6,000 babies every year.

"I love getting the baby save stories, but what is awful is when we get the messages from moms telling us they were 40 weeks pregnant and why don't we have Count the Kicks in our state. And, those messages are heartbreaking," said Petersen.

The goal is to raise $2 million. They plan to hire an executive director and bring Count the Kicks to all 50 states. "We want Count the Kicks to be as common as taking a prenatal vitamin," said Petersen.

They also want it to be a legacy for their five baby girls, who are watching over them today. "We all want to remember our daughters. Our daughters were perfect. They're beautiful," said Caruthers

"It's pretty amazing, and I always say, that's our girls, that's our girls," said Biondi-Morlan.


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