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A life-changing outcome for 20 Victorian families

Published 01/06/2021

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More than 20 lives have been saved through a major partnership to reduce preventable stillbirths at participating maternity hospitals. 

Research suggests that many stillbirths may be avoidable. We also know there is low awareness of the risk factors for stillbirth.

So from June 2019 to May 2021, we worked with participating Victorian maternity services to reduce stillbirth rates during the third trimester through our Safer Baby Collaborative.

Using the Partnering in healthcare framework, we included consumer voices and representatives across the participating teams, and in leadership roles for this project.

Throughout the Safer Baby Collaborative we focused on five target areas.

  • Improving rates of smoking cessation in pregnancy
  • Diagnosis and management of fetal growth restriction
  • Increasing public awareness of the importance of fetal movements
  • Raising awareness of safe maternal sleep positions
  • Promoting shared decision-making with women, around timing of birth.

While it was put on hold during the pandemic, the collaborative returned for a second phase in November 2020 and wrapped up in June 2021.

Final results showed a 21 per cent drop in stillbirths - that's more than 20 lives saved.

This was driven by:

  • an increase in the number of women quitting smoking during pregnancy, from 11 to 33 per cent, through better conversations with women and increased referrals to smoking cessation programs
  • improved screening for poorly growing babies, with risk assessment increasing from seven to 47 per cent
  • more expectant mothers being informed about changed baby movements, with sharing of critical information increasing from 17 to 57 per cent
  • better education around safer sleeping positions for women in their third trimester, increasing from 12 to 52 per cent
  • shared decision-making with women around timing of birth, increasing from 19 to 29 per cent.

This is a remarkable achievement and a life-changing outcome for 20 Victorian families.

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