In Australia more than thousands of babies are born still every year. The definition of Stillbirth in Australia is defined as the death of a baby beyond 20 weeks gestation. It is far more than that. Stillbirth has far more meaning than that. To birth a baby stillborn is a gut wrenching devastation that no family should ever have to endure, particularly in this day and age. The loss of a child at any age is unthinkable and is too often unspoken. Thankfully there are support organisations that can help families to live with their loss and others that are conducting crucial research into the causes of stillbirth. Unfortunately there is minimal financial support for the cause. At Still Aware we strongly believe that awareness brings change.
Facts About Stillbirth
- According to The Australian Institute of Health & Welfare more than 2000 babies are stillborn annually in Australia  (6 babies everyday).
- The Australian Bureau of Statistics states 1700 babies are born still in Australia each year  (5 babies daily).
No matter how you look at it – it’s too many!
- 6 babies are born still in Australia daily…that’s one family every 4 hours leaving a maternity ward with empty arms & an empty heart. The impact of this loss lasts a lifetime.
- 60% of stillbirths occur after 28 weeks. 
- Often there is nothing wrong: in a third of all stillbirth cases at term (37+ weeks) the baby’s death remains unexplained.
Facts About Prevention
- Mothers monitoring their babies’ movements daily in the third trimester (28 weeks and onwards) resulted in a 30% reduction in stillbirth  in Norway.
- New Zealand – 30% drop in unexplained late term stillbirth (37-40 weeks) in 3 years [i]
- This drop coincidences with midwives in NZ introducing sleep position advice to pregnant women during pregnancy [ii]
- Three epidemiological studies [iii] have shown that when the pregnant mother sleeps on her back that this increases the risk of stillbirth. A follow up study in NZ, currently undergoing peer review, confirms the finding of these earlier studies.
- Scotland – 20% drop in stillbirth in 4 years [iv]
- This came after introduction to “Saving Babies Lives” program now adopted across the board in UK by NHS [v]
- The Netherlands – greater than a 30% reduction in stillbirth in 5 years
- The country has experienced a 6.8% reduction in stillbirths per annum since 2010. [vi]
- The Netherlands adopted a “Count with Me” program which has aided this reduction and seen a continuation of reduced stillbirth rates [vii]
A baby’s only direct link to the outside world is through its mother. Mothers have a unique opportunity to understand their baby’s individual movements and respond accordingly Taking time each day to monitor a baby’s movement, is as important as taking prenatal vitamins and staying healthy.
As you enter the third trimester (28 weeks), spend some time with your bump at the same time each day, feel as your baby kicks, rolls or pokes. Not only will this enable you to further bond with your bump, but it will allow you to monitor your baby’s health as well. If something feels different or irregular during your routine bonding session, it is time to call your health care provider and report your baby’s movements or lack their of.
If a pregnant woman is particularly anxious, monitoring her baby’s movements can empower her to feel confident and comfortable that everything is ok or that yes, there is reason for concern. We encourage women to act on their instincts and help reduce the devastating statistics of stillbirth.
At Still Aware we are purely focused on raising awareness to the 6 babies daily that are born still in Australia. We represent those thousands of babies lost to stillbirth annually. We will continue to talk about the issue of stillbirth in Australia until there is change. Stillbirth should no longer be a taboo subject.
[ii] “Sleeping On Left Side May Halve Risk Of Stillbirth”. The Conversation. N.p., 2011. Web.
[iii] 1) Stacey, T., et al., Association between maternal sleep practices and risk of late stillbirth: a case-control study. BMJ, 2011. 342: p. d3403. 2) Owusu JT, et al., Association of maternal sleep practices with pre-eclampsia, low birth weight, and stillbirth among Ghanaian women. Int J Gynaecol Obstet, 2013. 121(3): p. 261-5. 3) Gordon A, et al., Sleep position, fetal growth restriction, and late-pregnancy stillbirth: the Sydney stillbirth study. Obstet Gynecol. , 2015 125(2 ): p. 347-55
[iv] “‘Red Light’ Warnings Over Stillbirth Rates At Some Scots Hospitals”. Scotsman.com. N.p., 2016. Web.
[vi] “Sands Response To Figures On Child Mortality Out Today – Reduction In Stillbirth Rates Welcome But Much More Can Be Done”. Sands – Stillbirth and neonatal death charity. N.p., 2015. Web.
[vi] “Ending Preventable Stillbirths: Stillbirth Rates Have Fallen From 2000 To 2015 But There Are Still 2.6 Million Annual Deaths”. ScienceDaily. N.p., 2016. Web.
[vii] Flenady , V. et al. “Detection And Management Of Decreased Fetal Movements In Australia And New Zealand: A Survey Of Obstetric Practice”. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 49.4 (2009): 358-363. Web.