New report reveals listening to pregnant women is key to reducing stillbirths

Half of all stillbirths could be prevented through better checks and listening to parents' concerns

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A new national audit has revealed that the number of stillbirths could be reduced by half simply by ensuring pregnant women are listened to when they speak to a midwife or doctor about their concerns.

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The researchers looked in depth at 85 stillbirths and found that, in half of the cases, the pregnant women had voiced concerns over the lack of their baby’s movements to medical staff.

In addition, the researchers found there were sometimes gaps in checks and recording information, particularly when it came to checking how much the baby had grown in between antenatal visits.

I am worried about stillbirth: what can I do?

There’s no glossing over the figures: in the UK, one in every 200 births will end in a stillbirth – which is one of the highest rates in Europe, and a statistic the government has recently pledged to tackle.

Obviously, a stillbirth can happen for all sorts of reasons, and, sometimes, there’s just nothing anyone can do, or could have done, to prevent it. But the good news from the report is that there is something every one of us can do when we’re pregnant, to help reduce the risk of it happening to you – and that’s centred on being aware of your baby’s movements or change in movements. Take a look at our tips on counting the kicks to help you.

What’s perhaps even more important, is not being worried about airing your concerns about your baby’s movements, if you have any. If you feel your baby’s movements have reduced, go and see your doctor or midwife as soon as possible.

And, even if you’re told everything’s probably all right know that’s it’s OK to ask another question, if you’re still not sure.

It might be that you ask your midwife to check that your baby has grown since your last visit, or you may just want to re-iterate your view that you feel your baby’s movements have reduced in a way you are not happy with.

And do make sure you go back again if you still have concerns about the baby’s movements – even if it means going back the next day. No midwife will laugh at you or think badly of you for coming back: your concerns do matter to them, however busy they might seem.

In short, what this report shows, is that everyone agree a women’s concerns in pregnancy need to be taken seriously: so don’t be afraid to make that return visit, if you need to – and know that you’re absolutely doing the right thing.

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