Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) is among Queensland hospitals implementing a new program designed to significantly reduce the rate of late gestation stillbirth.
Six babies are stillborn every day in Australia; a rate that has changed little in two decades. This is despite research indicating up to 30 per cent of stillbirths could be avoided with the provision of better care.
Clinical Excellence Queensland has partnered with the Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth (Stillbirth CRE) to deliver the Safer Baby Bundle — a set of clinical recommendations designed to reduce the rate of stillbirth in Queensland by 20 per cent by 2023.
Achieving this target would mean about 80 families a year could spared the devastation of having a stillborn baby.
The Safer Baby Bundle is designed to improve the care women and their families receive by targeting five areas where research shows lives can be saved.
1. Supporting women to stop smoking in pregnancy.
2. Improving detection and management of fetal growth restriction.
3. Raising awareness and improving care for women with decreased fetal movements.
4. Improving awareness of sleeping on either side after 28 weeks.
5. Improving shared decision-making about the timing of birth for women with risk factors for stillbirth.
For each of these target areas, maternity services will implement new or updated care pathways, best practice recommendations, evaluation strategies, and both face-to-face and eLearning educational modules.
GCUH Safer Bundle project lead and clinical midwife consultant Tionie Newth said every day in Australia 6 babies died from stillbirth, some of which could be preventable.
“Gold Coast Health’s Safer Baby Bundle Project team has been working closely with all staff GCUH to implement valuable tools for early identification of babies who may be at risk of stillbirth or fetal growth restriction,” she said.
“These tools are essentially Clinical Pathways and Risk Assessment Tools used throughout the pregnancy to assess, reassess and where needed monitor those babies to ensure we have a safe outcome for mother and baby.
“We know that by educating our staff and consumers in these five areas, we have a better chance of decreasing the number of babies stillborn on the Gold Coast”.
“In Queensland, we currently have a stillbirth rate of 6.7 per 1000, at Gold Coast we are pleased that our rate is slightly lower than this, however any baby stillborn is one too many.We see first hand how devastating this is for families.
“A project like this can make a difference and so far we have seen an extremely positive response to the Safer Bundle Campaign from Gold coast Health staff and consumers.
“The Safer Baby Bundle project is a National campaign supported by both the Federal and State governments around Australia, with a large public awareness campaign alongside the Clinical component of the project it is so vital to bring this issue out of the dark and make it a subject everyone knows about and talks about.
“There are so many myths about pregnancy and this project helps dispel some of those myths so that mothers seek the care they need, when they need it, and get correct information from the right sources”.
Consumer Hope Sharpin and her partner, who lost their baby Ollie four years ago, have embraced the Safe Baby Bundle initiative and hope the campaign raises awareness throughout the community.
“Over the past four years I have joined support groups, attended lunches, loss fundraisers. I have surrounded myself in the loss community,” Hope said at the recent Safer Baby Bundle launch at Gold Coast University Hospital.
“There I am able to talk openly, I am able laugh and cry with other mums and families about our children and this has been very healing.
“I have a learned that a lot can go wrong during a pregnancy. I have learned there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and there is definitely no time frame for mending a broken heart.
“What I have seen, heard and taken from these families is that the care received during their pregnancy and loss makes a huge difference to their ability to cope with their lives after loss.
“When my partner and I looked through the Safer Baby Bundle resources, we were excited to see the changes rolling out across Australia’s maternity services.
“These changes are encouraging to us and many other parents.”