After losing two baby girls to stillbirth, Miranda Coker, labor and delivery nurse, struggled with returning to work. But her love of caring for patients and desire to carry on the memory of her twin daughters, Annalise and Emmalyn, kept her coming back. Having experienced this loss, she has found a way to carry out her daughters’ story and raise awareness.
Coker is the Missouri ambassador for Count the Kicks, a stillbirth prevention campaign that encourages expecting mothers to track their baby’s movements, especially in the third trimester. Count the Kicks was founded June of 2009 in Des Moines, Iowa, by five mothers who had experienced stillborn births. According to Count the Kicks’ website, since the campaign’s start, Iowa’s stillborn rate has decreased by 26 percent.
Coker has been a labor and delivery nurse for 17 years and with BJC Healthcare for 8 years. She had previously worked in other fields of nursing, but labor and delivery has always drawn her back due to her love for moms and babies.
“The beauty of watching a family bring a new baby into the world is a miracle. It never gets old, it never gets monotonous,” says Coker.
Being a nurse, she has cared for many families and mothers after the loss of their baby. Then, in 2011, she experienced the tragedy of losing her own twin daughters to stillbirth. It took her 6 weeks before she was able to return to work. And it took another 15 months until she realized that she came back for a greater reason: passion.
Returning to work was a way to honor her girls. Since her own loss, she knew she had more to give to those mothers who were experiencing the same and could now better serve them. She became certified in perinatal loss care (CPLC).
Constantly looking to honor her daughters, in 2016, she stumbled upon Count the Kicks. Shortly after submitting her story to the campaign, she trained to become an ambassador. By becoming an advocate for stillbirth prevention, she has made it a personal mission to educate and ensure that moms at Missouri Baptist Medical Center don’t have to walk through the same devastating loss.
Coker lives the Missouri Baptist Childbirth Center’s goal of making every patient feel as if they’re the only family in the hospital. The personalized care each family receives allows them to leave more aware and supported.
All Missouri Baptist nurses use a personalized approach, but Coker sharing the story of Annalise and Emmalyn helps connect with other families who also experience stillbirth or complications during pregnancy. Now, when Coker discharges pregnant mothers, she ensures that they know how to count their baby’s kicks.
Count the Kicks prevents stillbirth by making moms aware of fetal movement
Since 2009, the Count the Kicks stillbirth prevention campaign has promoted fetal movement counting or “kick counting” through awareness and promotion of their kick counting app. Count the Kicks app makes kick counting easy for expecting mothers and keeps a history of your baby’s kick from start to finish.
Keeping track of fetal movement can prevent stillbirth, alerting moms that their baby might be in distress. Miranda Coker wants mothers 28 weeks pregnant and beyond to be aware of their babies’ movement. “There’s a misconception out in the world that the further along you get in your pregnancy, your baby will move less,” Coker says. “Mothers need to know their baby should not be moving less. They move differently.” If a mother experiences a difference in kick patterns, she should contact her healthcare provider immediately, she says.
Count the Kicks officially launched in Missouri on June 1. The Missouri Department of Health funds the program’s materials, making the information accessible to physicians and expecting parents across the state. According to Count the Kicks’ site, there are 458 stillbirths in Missouri. Miranda states that if Missouri were to decrease its stillborn rate of 26% (as Iowa has after implementing Count the Kicks), 119 babies could be saved.