An expectant Iowa mom who was using an app to monitor her baby's kicks wound up saving the child's life when she detected an issue with the fetus' movement in the womb.
“We could have been grieving instead of having a healthy baby," Emily Eekhoff told InsideEdition.com.
After first using the "Count the Kicks" app before her son Liam was born two years ago, Eekhoff decided to utilize it again for her second pregnancy.
The purpose of the "Count the Kicks" app is to count the movements that a baby makes when the mother begins her third trimester. The mother marks each movement on the app as a “kick” and continues to count these movements until the baby reaches ten kicks for the day. With the information logged into the app each day, it will record your results and show the baby’s movement pattern. The pattern should remain consistent.
But when Eekhoff used the app at 33 weeks, the pattern of her unborn baby girl was bizarre and worrisome.
“Normally any time I would sit she would start to get active and usually I could get 10 kicks in under 10 minutes," she said. “Lunch time I tried to do a count and sitting down I got maybe three kicks in a half hour which was unusual for sure.”
Eekhoff decided to take a visit to the Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines to see what was happening.
“It was so different and I wasn’t sure what to do exactly so I was just focused on trying to get her to move that I didn’t think too much of what could be going on necessarily, Eekhoff said.
Within six hours, Eekhoff discovered her baby was in distress, after she didn’t move during an ultrasound, and had an emergency C-section. Eekhoff says the umbilical cord was wrapped around her newborn Ruby’s neck three times and her coloring was dark.
With the help of oxygen, she began to regain her color and she stayed in the NICU for 20 days.
Ruby, now 1-month-old is doing well, although she was born seven weeks early.
Lori Mortensen of Le Photo Design captured photos of the family and baby Ruby.
“It’s hard to know what could have been, but based on doctors, one more day she likely wouldn’t have been alive,” Eekhoff said. “We had a couple weeks to go so we’re wrapping our heads around that she’s here.”
“Count the Kicks” was created in 2009 by a group of five women who lost their daughters to stillbirth or early death. Their mission is to prevent these types of losses for other parents.
Emily Price, the executive director of “Count the Kicks,” says the app has reduced the stillborn rate in Iowa by 26 percent in Iowa while the country’s stillbirth rate remains stagnant.
“It’s a life-saving tool [mothers] can get in the palm of their hands,” Price said. “We would like to get it in all 50 states.”
Eekhoff says the app is easy to use and if something is wrong, mothers can inform doctors of their baby's movement patterns with confidence. She has also met with some of the mothers who created the app.
“They thanked me a lot, but I didn’t do anything," Eekhoff said. "They should be the ones that should be thanked or else our story would have been totally different. We’re so grateful for what they’re doing.”
Price says 24,000 babies are stillborn every year and “Count the Kicks” provides mothers with the opportunity to create a bond with their babies and gives moms the chance to speak up if they notice a change.
"We know we saved babies," Price said. "Ruby’s not the first and she’s not the only one... it could ultimately save your baby’s life.”