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Central West working to ensure healthy pregnancies and births

Monday 13 July 2020

News_Central West working to ensure healthy pregnancies and births.png
News_Central West working to ensure healthy pregnancies and births.png

The Central West Hospital and Health Service’s maternity service is working hard this year to build awareness in the region about preventable stillbirths.

Maternal and Child Health Manager Deirdre Murphy said Queensland Health had launched the Safer Baby Bundle late last year with the aim of reducing preventable stillbirths in Queensland by 20 per cent by 2022.

“About six babies a day are stillborn in Australia,’’ she said.

“The majority do not have a major congenital abnormality, so opportunities for prevention exist.

“Stillbirth affects mothers and fathers, their families, health services, society, and governments. Across Australia as a whole, it is a serious public health problem with far reaching psychosocial and financial burden.

“As part of the Safer Baby Bundle program, we aim to promote transparent communication with parents on what they can do to reduce their risk of stillbirth.

“Feeling confident that they’ve been well informed and knowing the steps they can take to reduce their risk of stillbirth can be really empowering for parents.

“Too often we see a pregnant person second guessing their instincts or not wanting to be a nuisance, but information is key to reducing the rates of preventable stillbirth.’’

Longreach Hospital Maternity Service Midwife Meri Howden is Central West Health’s Safer Baby Bundle Champion for the region.

Ms Howden said research showed going to sleep on your side from 28 weeks of pregnancy could halve the risk of stillbirth.

“In addition, four to seven per cent of stillbirths can be prevented by not smoking during pregnancy,” Ms Howden said.

“Foetal movement and changing movements also are a priority.

“If a pregnant person is at all concerned about the baby’s movements, or any changes in her pregnancy, she should phone the hospital. We'd rather you phoned than be sitting worrying at home.’’

Ms Howden said Queensland Health had partnered with the Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence to roll out the Safer Baby Bundle across all hospital and health service antenatal services.

“Here in the Central West, we are rolling out an online education program to all our midwives to highlight the Safer Baby Bundle initiatives,’’ she said.

The recommended Safer Baby Bundle interventions include:

  1. Supporting women to stop smoking in pregnancy.
  2. Improving detection and management of foetal growth restriction.
  3. Raising awareness and improving care for women with decreased foetal movements.
  4. Improving awareness of maternal safe going-to-sleep position in late pregnancy.
  5. Improving decision-making around timing of birth for women with risk factors for stillbirth.

“The aim is to ensure all new mums are familiar with these interventions and how important it is to keep these in mind for the health and safety of their babies, and themselves,’’ Ms Howden said.

“We discuss the recommended interventions with new mums and their partners both at antenatal classes and at each individual meeting our midwives have with a mum to monitor the progress of her pregnancy.

“These pregnancy progress visits occur monthly up to 28 weeks, fortnightly up to 37 weeks and then weekly up to birth.

“We’ve found that both mums and their partners are very receptive to the information we provide about how to minimise the risk of stillbirth.

“They are all very keen to ensure a healthy pregnancy and the wellbeing of their baby, so they are very engaged with the education and information we deliver.’’

Ms Howden said about 70 births a year occurred in the Central West and the health service was keen to ensure every single one was a happy and healthy event for all concerned.


Promoting healthy births – Central West Health midwives Natalie Parrish (left) and Meri Howden with some of the Safer Baby Bundle information posters.


For further information contact:

James Guthrie
Principal Media Officer, Rural and Remote Qld
Media and Communication
Department of Health
(07) 3708 5379

Last updated: 14 July 2020