Dr Jane Warland from UniSA’s School of Nursing and Midwifery says stillbirth is a forgotten tragedy in our community and it’s time that changed.
“The annual rate of stillbirths in Australia exceeds road deaths by up to 40 per cent,” Dr Warland says.
“Reducing the impact of stillbirth in our community is important because of all the long-term negative outcomes associated with this loss; things like grief and loss affecting mental health, not only of the parents themselves but also their immediate friends and family, children already in the family and children born subsequently.”
Stillbirth, when a baby is born with no signs of life because it has died in the womb, occurs every one in 140 births in Australia.
There are around 2000 stillbirths each year or about six stillbirths every day, a number many times higher than the annual road toll.
Dr Warland, in partnership with SIDS and Kids SA, has developed a ‘SAFE’ brochure outlining the four strategies pregnant women can adopt to reduce their chance of suffering a stillbirth.
“I came up with the acronym SAFE in order for it to be both a memorable and practical way for women to proactively do four simple things to help minimise their risk of suffering this tragedy,” Dr Warland says.
“Each letter is based on the best currently available evidence. While of course there are no guarantees that following these four steps will prevent stillbirth, it is likely that women who follow these steps are less likely to suffer this tragedy in the same way as putting baby on their back to sleep doesn’t completely remove the risk of SIDS.”
The four strategies outlined in the brochure are Sleep on your left, Always keep appointments, Feeling baby move and getting Early expert advice.
The brochure also emphasises the importance of discussing individual situations with a midwife or obstetrician.
The SAFE brochure will be launched at the inaugural SIDS and Kids Stillbirth Seminar to be held at the BioSA Incubator, Thebarton, on Wednesday May 25 at 12pm. The brochure has been funded by the Community Enterprise Foundation, an initiative of the Bendigo Bank Group.
For more information on stillbirth visit www.stillbirthfoundation.org.au or www.stillbirthalliance.org. For support after a stillbirth visit www.sidsandkids.org, www.sands.org.au or www.teddyloveclub.org.au