Sophia Mason runs Count The Kicks, a charity launched to help prevent babies from being stillborn. Here, she tells The Magazine about her own tragedy that led her to start it up and how she managed to turn it into something so positive…
What made you start up your charity?
In November 2009 I suffered every woman’s nightmare when my unborn baby girl, Chloe, died in the womb and was stillborn. She was my first baby and she was just four days off her due date. I’d noticed a reduction of movements a week before she was due. But it wasn’t until after I learned the amount of movement a baby has in the uterus was such a factor in determining its health – and I was determined the nightmare wouldn’t happen to anyone else. Just weeks after I launched Count the Kicks.
What does your charity do?
Count The Kicks stresses the important of monitoring how often a baby moves in the uterus. It helps mums to be work out what is normal for them and alerts them so if their baby starts moving less – which can be a sign of a potential problem – they can be checked out. At the moment the moment when someone sees their midwife they are handed a kick chart with their notes. But although some midwives might point out the importance of it – not all do. The chart also looks very medical – certainly when I was pregnant with Chloe I had no idea the number of kicks was so important (old style midwives used to stress 10 movements a day minimum) – and thought it was something your doctor should fill in.
Have you had support?
Lots. We are pushing the message home by sending out packs to hospitals, GP surgeries, antenatal teachers – everyone involved in care of pregnant women. In the last year one million packs have been sent out – they include posters to raise the message in the waiting rooms about fetal movements, stickers, the fun Count the Kicks chart (which allows mums to be to see if over a number of days their baby is kicking less rather than wondering if they are imagining it…) and leaflets full of advice. My campaign is supported by the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and gynacologists, as well as many businesses. It’s believed 60% of fetal deaths are avoidable. I don’t want to scare pregnant women but empower them with knowledge.
What’s happened since?
In May this year I gave birth to a healthy son, George, by caesarean (left). I found the kick chart a constant source of reassurance. But shortly before he was due I noticed his movements dramatically reduced. This time I acted on my own advice and was quickly checked out in hospital – there doctors realised my placenta had started to fail and George was born by ceasarean that night. I could so easily have lost him.
We have just launched our Count the Kicks ‘Beautiful Bumps’ Calendar for 2012 – we ran a national photo competition where portrait photographers across the UK donated their time for free for expectant mums to pose for portraits for it. The 12 winning shots were chosen by Cathy Warwick, the General Secretary from The Royal College of Midwives, television presenter Emma Forbes and ITV’s This Morning Agony aunt Denise Robertson, along with 12 sponsoring companies.
For more information and to buy a calendar priced £7.50 plus p&p visit Sophia’s website here: www.countthekicks.org.uk