Much more is still to be done to prevent the trauma of stillbirth for many.
Much more is still to be done to prevent the trauma of stillbirth for many.

Right message will cut stillbirth numbers

IT'S been 31 years since the first red nose day in Australia brought about a drastic change in our understanding and awareness on how to prevent SIDS.

At the time I was a young mum and midwife myself and saw first-hand how research and a big national awareness campaign changed everything we knew about safe baby sleeping.

Since then countless baby's live's have been saved, and countless families spared the grief of losing a child to SIDS.

But the same cannot be said for the families who have suffered the tragedy of stillbirth. More than 2000 Australian families experience this unimaginable grief each year. The rate of stillbirth has remained unchanged for 20 years.

Just like what we know about SIDS has changed dramatically over the last 30 years, so too has our understanding of stillbirth. Through research, we know up to a third of stillbirths beyond 28 weeks are potentially preventable.

That's 60,000 families who have suffered and grieved over the last 20 years. If only they, and their care providers, had access to better information and better education.

To combat this The Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence with the Victorian Government's Safer Care Victoria has launched the Movements Matter campaign to raise awareness amongst expectant mothers and health care professionals about the critical message "Your baby's movements matter."

For mums-to-be there's no set number of movements, it's important to get to know your own baby's unique pattern of movements. And if you notice a change in that pattern such as a reduction in frequency or strength then don't delay in contacting your midwife or doctor immediately.

 

Sixty thousand families have suffered and grieved over the past 20 years.
Sixty thousand families have suffered and grieved over the past 20 years.

 

Raising awareness for both expectant mothers and their healthcare professionals is an important part of reducing the numbers of stillborn babies. We urgently need national funding to reach more women about the Movements Matter message.

But the Senate inquiry into stillbirth research and education is not due to make its recommendations until 2019.

With unborn babies at risk every week, we cannot wait that long. The inquiry must recommend the funding of an urgent education campaign to help expectant parents

understand the significance of reduced fetal movements along with a broader package of care maternal health care addressing other critical risk factors.

This Pregnancy Loss Awareness Week the Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence passionately calls on the Federal Government to provide full funding for the dual objectives of funding the full nationwide rollout of education campaign to address the full bundle of care around known risk factors, of which Movements Matter is only one part; and a significant boost to the continued research unlocking the causes of unexplained stillbirths.

My babies are now grown and having their own babies. So I've got a special message to grandmothers to get educated. Understand the latest research, and what might now be a dangerous myth. If your daughter calls for advice make sure you are giving her the latest and best advice.

Tell her that its a myth that babies slow down at the end of pregnancy, and they don't run out of room. Her baby's unique pattern of movements should continue all the way through to labour.

Tell her that the position of her placenta or her body shape won't change the way she experiences her baby's movements.

Tell her that having a rest, waiting till morning or having something to eat or drink won't work, and delays seeking help.

Most of all, tell her that her baby's movements matter. Night or day, don't delay seeking help. If her baby's movements have changed then contact her midwife or doctor immediately.

Being aware of these myths might just save your grand child's life.

Professor Vicki Flenady is director of the Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence, Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland