Emily Eekhoff was 33 weeks and five days pregnant when she noticed her baby’s movements had changed. “Something was just off,” the mom from Iowa tells Us Weekly exclusively. Eekoff was used to feeling 10 fetal kicks within 10 minutes, but on May 30, she detected very little activity. As the day went on, the 26-year-old became increasingly concerned, so she and her husband, Jeremy, went to Des Moines’ Mercy Medical Center.
At the hospital a heart rate test and ultrasound revealed that Eekoff and Jeremy’s baby was in distress. A doctor performed an emergency cesarean section and found the umbilical cord had become wrapped tightly around the newborn’s neck three times. Though Ruby had to spend 20 days in the neonatal intensive care unit, she’s now home and healthy with her parents and 2-year-old brother Liam. And Eekoff is crediting an app called Count the Kicks for saving her daughter’s life.
Count the Kicks helps a woman track her child’s activity patterns during the third trimester of pregnancy. “Using the app helped me to know with certainty Ruby’s normal movements,” Eekoff tells Us. “I could confidently tell my doctors at the hospital that she would usually get 10 or more movements in seven to eight minutes and I had the history on the app to show as well. Who knows where this could have gone had I not been so aware?”
Dr. Neil Mandsager, a maternal and fetal medicine specialist at Mercy Medical Center, agrees. “This most likely would have resulted in stillbirth at some point, whether it was one day, two days or three days,” he told TODAY on June 27. “She saved her baby’s life by paying attention to her baby’s activity.”
The Count the Kicks program was created by five Iowa women who had stillbirths. “When you and I don’t feel well we move less. We want to lie on the couch or in bed and not move,” Emily Price, the executive director of the organization told ABC News in an email. “It’s the same thing with babies. When they are not feeling well, they move less. Sometimes kick counting is the only indication — and the earliest indication — that something is wrong in there.”