PARENTS

Holly Willoughby Helped Save Two Babies' Lives By Urging Pregnant Women To Count The Kicks

05/05/2015 21:47 BST | Updated 05/05/2015 21:59 BST

Two mums have thanked Holly Willoughby for helping to save their babies' lives after she urged pregnant women to "count the kicks" on an episode of Surprise Surprise.

"To hear that it has saved the lives of two children is just so rewarding and goes to show how something so simple truly can save lives." Willoughby, told HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

Both Natasha Wright, from Ipswich, and Rachel Westlake, from Gloucestershire, believe their babies could have been stillborn if it wasn't for an episode of Surprise Surprise that aired in October 2014.

holly willoughby

On the show Willoughby spoke to Sophia Wyatt, the founder of Count the Kicks, a charity that aims to empower mums-to-be with the knowledge and confidence to help prevent some stillbirth and neonatal deaths.

"When you front a campaign like Count the Kicks you hope that you will be able to raise awareness and that it will help in some way," added Willoughby, who has three children: Harry, five, Belle, four, and seven-month-old Chester.

Every day, 17 babies are stillborn in the UK and according to Count The Kicks research has shown that 30% of stillbirths occur after 37 weeks of pregnancy, when a baby could safely be delivered.

Mum-of-two Natasha Wright, 22, remembers the episode vividly as she believes watching it saved the life of her son Blake.

natasha wright

Natasha Wright and Blake

"I’m very grateful to whatever made me watch Surprise Surprise that evening, because what with being pregnant and having a toddler to look after I was normally in bed at that time," says Wright, who is mum to two-year-old Farrah and two-month-old Blake.

"I dread to think what would have happened if I hadn't seen it, I can honestly say I don't think Blake would be here now as he was born with his cord around his neck and doctors only spotted something was wrong because I noticed reduced movement.

"The way Holly Willoughby handled such a serious topic meant it really stayed with me and gave me the confidence to seek help when a month later I noticed my baby wasn't moving as much as he had been.

"If I hadn't heard of Count the Kicks I probably wouldn't have thought anything more of it but the campaign had made me aware that changes in your baby's movements could be a sign something was wrong so I phoned my maternity ward to be on the safe side.

"At first they were a bit funny about it and said I shouldn't really have a regular pattern so it was nothing to worry about, but they wouldn't turn me away if I wanted to come in.

"Luckily I did go in as after that I was referred to consultant-led care where I had regular growth scans which picked up on low fluid around the baby at 33 weeks.

"I ended up being induced at 37 weeks. It was quite traumatic, but thankfully Blake was OK.

"If I hadn’t acted when I did things could have tuned out very differently."

After featuring on Surprise Surprise, Count The Kick's message went viral with people sharing the charity's logo on Facebook to help spread the message to as many pregnant women as possible.

Elizabeth Hutton, CEO of Count the Kicks said: "Since the ITV exposure, the charity’s web hits have gone from 8000 a month to 110,000 a month with Facebook going from 35,000 likers to 235,000.

"As a public awareness campaign this is helping us achieve our goal much faster and we are now receiving almost daily stories of people who have been helped by Count the Kicks."

Rachel Westlake had been up all night worried about her baby's lack of movement when she spotted her friend had changed her Facebook profile picture to the Count the Kicks logo.

rachel westlake

Rachel Westlake and Seth

"It was the day before my due date and I was so anxious I couldn't sleep," says Rachel, 31, who is mum to two-year-old Elias and five-month-old Seth.

"Over the past couple of days my baby seemed to be moving less and less, I'd heard that a baby's movement reduces towards the end of pregnancy because there isn't much room (although I've since learnt this is a myth) so I didn't want to trouble the midwives over nothing.

"But then I spotted that my friend had updated her profile picture with the Count The Kicks logo - it was like a sign telling me that I needed to get checked out.

"So I decided to visit the maternity ward. I dropped Elias off at a friends house and said I'd be back by lunchtime, but I wasn’t back for three and a half weeks.

"Basically my baby had suffered a massive fetal-maternal hemorrhage and had gradually lost around 50% of his blood through the placenta or cord, hence the movements I felt were getting weaker.

"He was delivered immediately by emergency c-section, had to be resuscitated at birth and was given a blood transfusion straight away.

"He was really ill and rushed to neonatal intensive care at another hospital 50 miles away for 'cooling treatment' to prevent further damage to his brain.

"The consultant obstetrician basically told us that our baby was 'lucky to be alive' and if I had waited for natural labour he wouldn't have made it."

rachel westlake

Rachel Westlake and Seth

"It was only afterwards I learned my friend had uploaded the picture after watching Surprise Surprise. Frankly it's a miracle that she did as otherwise Seth might not be here," adds Westlake.

"I can't thank Holly Willoughby enough for bringing Count the Kicks to my friends' attention.

"To have somebody like that endorsing a campaign makes you take notice and I'm proof of the fact that this is an important issue for pregnant women to know about."

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Hutton hopes that people will continue to share Count the Kicks message.

“Our aim is to make all pregnant women aware of how important their baby's movements are, in the hope that more of them will be delivered safely," she says.

"The ITV campaign has meant that we are now reaching so many more mums and we hope within the next 18 months that we will be able to reach all 800,000 women who are pregnant in the UK each year.”

She advises pregnant women who experience an decrease or increase in fetal movements to report the changes to a midwife or healthcare professional for further assessment.

For more information visit The Count the Kicks website.

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