Counting Kicks for Twins: 5 Tips for Expectant Twin Parents
We know that discovering you’re pregnant with twins is an out-of-this-world experience. It’s an incredible gift and a tremendous physical, mental, and emotional challenge to carry two babies into the world.
While you might be feeling double the excitement and double the love, you’re likely also experiencing double the worry. Twin pregnancies come with significant added risk compared to singleton pregnancies, so it’s critical for you to have information and tools that can help ensure the best outcome possible for your two peas in a pod.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to tune into the well-being of your twins during pregnancy is to monitor their movements, or count kicks. Count the Kicks has a free kick counting app that allows expectant parents to track movement for single babies or twins. When you have a daily kick counting session, the app will help you track how long it takes each baby to reach 10 movements (kicks, punches, jabs, and rolls).
5 Tips for Expectant Twin Parents
To help you feel confident in your approach to counting kicks, we sat down with respected neonatologist and Count the Kicks Medical Advisory Board member, Dr. Ann Anderson Berry, to find out what twin parents need to know. Dr. Anderson Berry cares for babies that need extra help after delivery, and her training and expertise focuses on the intersection of pregnancy and the newborn period.
“It’s a critical part of a healthy pregnancy to be able to understand what your baby is capable of doing on a day to day basis in utero, noticing when that changes, and alerting your healthcare provider for a higher level of evaluation,” she said.
Through Dr. Anderson Berry’s insight, and the experience of twin mom Sandra Marcela R. Monroy, MD, we bring you five essential things to know about counting kicks for twins:
1- Celebrate the gift, while preparing to manage the risks.
Twin births makeup just 3.1% of births in the U.S. — so congratulations! You’ve been given a rare, incredible gift! While a twin pregnancy can be an amazing experience, it comes with added risk.
That’s why Dr. Anderson Berry, who serves as Medical Director for the Nebraska Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative (NPQIC), is such an advocate for counting kicks. She expressed, “NPQIC is a proud supporter of Count the Kicks, and we really believe we can make an impact in families’ lives if we do some education about what fetal movement is like in the third trimester.”
Dr. Anderson Berry went on to explain that some twin pregnancy risks are common, while others are more difficult to identify, and that’s why it’s so important to know what’s normal for each baby’s movement patterns — to help parents and medical providers pick up on the early signs of potential fetal distress.
2- Commit to daily kick counting sessions starting at 26 weeks.
While twins do have a higher chance of early delivery, the guidelines for when to start counting kicks in singleton and twin pregnancies are a little different. You should start daily kick counting sessions at 26 weeks, just before the start of the third trimester for a twin pregnancy. There’s nothing wrong with starting earlier, especially if it helps you practice, get into a routine, and bond with your babies.
Marcela, a mom of twin girls, started her daily sessions at 26 weeks. “Counting kicks made me know my babies more,” she shared. “Things like when they were active, and which foods made them move more. Having twins was a surprise for us, so getting to know them gave us peace.”
3- Drop the comparisons! Every baby is unique – including movement patterns in utero.
Speaking of getting to know your babies … every baby, regardless of whether they’re your solo tenant or rooming up with a twin sibling, has a unique personality and tendencies for movement.
With a knowing smile, Dr. Anderson Berry explained, “Another trap we fall into as moms is to always be comparing our kids to each other. And what more direct comparison can you get than having two babies in utero? You’re literally timing them!” She reiterated that the only baby you should be comparing one twin to is themselves — not their roommate in utero!
You might be worried about how you’ll differentiate movements between one twin and the other. Both Dr. Anderson Berry and Marcela implied that while it can be a bit tricky, it’s also quite an intuitive experience if you work toward tuning into your body. As twins grow into the third trimester, their positions will become clearer, and while they will continue to move, they may not drastically change position as often as a single baby would.
“I would always monitor their movements and their position. Based on that, I was able to know who was who. My advice is to take it easy and trust yourself. Trust the process and try every day. It gets easier,” Marcela said.
She even came to know that her Baby A was more active after breakfast, while her Baby B was more active after dinner. We’ll check back in 10 years to see if one is an early bird and the other is a night owl — our bets are on yes.
While Dr. Anderson Berry hasn’t been pregnant with twins herself, she has talked at length with twin moms that have successfully counted kicks. She explained that one way to avoid mixing up movements between babies is to do one complete kick counting session for one baby, then move on to the next, rather than trying to monitor both babies’ movements in the same session. It will help you establish a true baseline for each baby.
All that said, it is essential that you talk to your healthcare provider and go over any questions or concerns about counting kicks for your babies.
4- Use direct, assertive language when communicating with your healthcare provider.
We love this advice from Dr. Anderson Berry. Many women experience a sense of not wanting to be an alarmist or a burden. While there’s no need to be disrespectful, it’s important to be a strong advocate for your babies and to communicate clearly and directly, especially when you are sharing an observation of a change in your baby’s movements.
If you find yourself needing to communicate a concern, tap into your confidence and remember that you have your kick counting data on hand to support you! Instead of saying, “I’m not sure if my babies are moving as much, so I just wanted to check in,” go with something more assertive, such as: “I’ve noticed a change in my babies’ movements, and I need to be seen for additional monitoring.”
5- Give yourself grace, and find solace in your kick counting routine.
Carrying twins is hard — and that is an understatement. Your body and mind are under tremendous pressure, and you need rest and peace throughout this process. Carving out time in your day to relax, focus on your babies, and bond with them can help you manage the stresses of twin pregnancy.
As parents, we often question ourselves and worry if we’re doing the right things, whether it’s during pregnancy, toddlerhood, the teenage years, and beyond. Know that counting kicks is the right thing. Take it from Marcela, a twin mom who has been in your shoes: “I really felt like I was connecting with my babies, and it gave me peace of mind. I invite you to try this.”
Dr. Anderson Berry’s closing thoughts underscored that point. “Find solace in the counting and know that it’s one additional way to ensure your babies are healthy, and that can help reduce your stress level.”
How to Count the Kicks for Twins
- Visit the app store to download the free Count the Kicks app.
- When you open the app, it will ask how many babies you are counting for. You’ll select two.
- Enter your due date, and add your babies’ names/nicknames, then hit save.
- Tap the footprint on the screen when you feel the first movement to track for either baby. The app will track the time it takes each of your babies to get to 10 kicks!
- To switch between babies, swipe left/right or tap the baby’s name at the top of the screen. The baby you are counting for will be red, and the other baby’s name will be yellow. As you count, you will see the current number of kicks for each baby in the circle next to their name at the top.
- Once each baby reaches 10 kicks, the app will ask you to rate the strength of each baby’s movements on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being “fluttery” and 5 being “fierce.”
- Add any notes you want to keep on that day’s kick counting session and hit the finish session button.
- Be sure to create an account so you can save your kick counting history!
About the Author
Shannon Pike is a Count the Kicks Ambassador in the state of Texas. She lives in the Austin area with her family, and works in honor of her daughter Marie Evangeline, who was born still in 2018. Read more about Shannon here.
Sign up for our newsletter for the simplest way to stay in touch with the latest information about our mission, events, volunteer opportunities, and more.