Today (23 October) the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) launches Each Baby Counts, a new five year project which aims to reduce by 50% the number of stillbirths, early neonatal deaths and brain injuries occurring in the UK as a result of incidents during term labour by 2020.

Sands, the national stillbirth and neonatal death charity, warmly welcomes this initiative.

Neal Long, Chief Executive of Sands said:

“This is a very welcome initiative which we hope will mean fewer families will suffer the tragic and needless death of their baby at or around the time of birth.

“The UK has one of the highest stillbirth rates in the western world.  Every year, more than 1,000 stillbirths occur when the baby is normally formed, considered low risk and at a time when the baby could survive outside the womb.  Around 300 babies who have reached term die every year as a result of events in labour. These deaths are possibly the most avoidable of all.

“Standards of care can vary considerably across the country and not all deaths are reviewed rigorously to ensure lessons are learned. It’s time to ensure that every mother receives the best quality care available and avoidable deaths are prevented.

“The death of a baby has a lifelong impact on all those affected.  We are dedicated to reducing the number of families who experience such devastating and potentially avoidable tragedies and this project is a vital contribution to the wider work.”

Rosalind Levine and Maxie Allen’s baby daughter Alexandra tragically died 12 hours into labour in April 2012. Rosalind had what was ostensibly a straightforward pregnancy and went into labour nine days overdue.  There was no conclusive theory about why Alexandra died.

Rosalind said:

“More research around why babies die and more effort put into reducing the number of babies that die is critical. We cannot put into words the scale of what we lost. For nine months we looked forward to our baby, but we never got to meet her or take her home. We are left with awful memories of holding our dead baby in our arms, it’s most of what we talk about, it’s in our conscience every waking moment. And we still don’t know why.”

Maxie said:

The fact that we will never even know why Alexandra died is one of the hardest things to bear. She could have been delivered a month before and not even been premature. It doesn’t have to be like this.  Our lives have been devastated by it, and not just us, our extended family too.

 "It devastates so many lives.”

Ends

Notes to editor:

For interview requests, please contact Hannah Ward, Communications Manager, on 020 3598 4910 e: hannah.ward@uk-sands.org or Natalie Cooper, Sands Press & PR Officer, on 0203 598 1959, e: natalie.cooper@uk-sands.org.

For further information about the Each Baby Counts project please contact Rebecca Jones, PR Officer at RCOG, on 020 7772 6444 or emailrjones@rcog.org.uk. Each Baby Counts will be launched at the RCOG on Thursday 23 October 2014. More information here.