Wales

Pregnancy advice to cut stillbirths in Wales

Pregnancy file picture Image copyright Thinkstock

A public health campaign to give advice on safer pregnancies is to be launched in the new year as part of a wider drive to cut the rates of stillbirths.

Wales currently has one of the highest rates in Europe - with around one in every 200 babies being stillborn.

The Wales Maternity Network, which was formed earlier this year, has helped develop a new public health campaign.

It will focus lifestyle messages as well as mothers-to-be recognising their baby's pattern of movements.

Midwives, doctors and health boards will meet in just over a week's time with the network, to discuss the progress being made so far to drive down the rate.

Last year there were 177 stillbirths in Wales at a rate of 5.2 for every thousand live births - a figure that has been largely unchanged for the last two decades.

'Potential change'

Earlier this year saw the establishment of both a National Stillbirth Working Group and the Wales Maternity Network to pull together on-going work on reducing that rate.

As the network's manager, Claire Roche, has helped develop the new campaign, which will highlight issues including the dangers of smoking or being overweight during pregnancy.

"Things like monitoring your baby's movements, knowing what to do if you are concerned about those movements, understanding that a potential change in your baby's movements can be a sign that something is wrong - that's a really key message that we need to get across," she added.

Only France, Latvia and Romania have a higher rate of stillbirths once the figures for Wales and England are combined.

Last month a report revealed that too often UK hospitals are missing opportunities to save the lives of hundreds of babies.

'Suffering'

Isobel Martin, from Powys, lost her first baby 30 years ago. Five years ago she set up a charity to fund research into stillbirths after realising the statistics hadn't improved very much since Holly's birth.

She has since given evidence to AMs on stillbirths and been involved in developing new strategies to reduce the rates.

Initiatives to increase the numbers of parents who consent to a post mortem on their baby to try and gain a better understanding of why stillbirths happen have already been rolled out across Wales.

"Since I lost my baby there's been a 150,000 (more stillbirths) - some ridiculous number. It's roughly 4,000 a year," she said.

"It's a lot of babies and a lot of families and a lot of suffering. If we can reduce it at all that will help people in the future."

Eye on Wales is on BBC Radio Wale at 12:30 GMT on Sunday, 6 December.

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