Iowa mother says counting app saved her baby's life

DES MOINES, Iowa – Many people use their cellphones to play games, waste time or check the latest sports scores – but one Iowa woman believes an app she downloaded saved her baby girl's life.

"I haven't let my mind go there," said Emily Eekhoff about what could have happened if she hadn't rushed to the hospital. "They could have been burying our baby instead."

Eekhoff was 33 weeks pregnant when she noticed something had changed.

"We were a little scared that things weren't right," Eekhoff told WHO-TV Tuesday morning, June 20th at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines.

She had been using the Count the Kicks app, which helps monitor a baby's movements. Count the Kicks is a Des Moines-based non-profit that encourages pregnant mothers to track the number of a baby's movements by recording them on the app at the same time every day.

Eekhoff noticed her baby's movements had slowed, often a warning sign that the baby could be in some type of distress. Eekhoff and her husband went to the hospital May 30th.

"We are really thankful that we did," Eekhoff said.

Doctors in Mercy's new obstetrics emergency room found that the umbilical cord had become wrapped around the baby's neck three times, which can be fatal.

Medical staff performed an emergency C-section and delivered Eekhoff's daughter, Ruby. Ruby had to spend 20 days in the NICU so she could get stronger and healthier. But this week, Ruby was able to go home with her family.

Count the Kicks Executive Director Emily Price said a baby's reduced movement is similar to an adult's in a way.

"When we don't feel well, we move less. And we want to stay on the couch or bed. It's the same thing for babies. When they don't feel well, they move less," Price said.

Count the Kicks' awareness campaign has helped to lower Iowa's stillborn rate 26 percent over the past five years, while the national rate has essentially remained unchanged.