In yesterday’s (6.12.15) BBC Radio Wales Eye on Wales programme Presenter Kayley Thomas investigated the work of a the National Stillbirth Working Group to reduce the rates of stillbirths in Wales.
Claire Roche of Public Health Wales and manager of the Wales Maternity Network spoke about initiatives in Wales to combat the high stillbirth rate and emphasised that the work would be continuing into the long term. She also spoke about a new public health campaign, delivering safer pregnancy messages, which will launch next year, ending the taboo on talking about stillbirth risks in pregnancy. Wales began this work as a result of focus group research funded and undertaken by Sands on public health messaging.
Bereaved mothers, ‘Lisa’ and Isobel Martin, bravely shared their experiences of the stillbirths of their babies and about the care they received. Isobel also spoke about her campaigning work and her charity fund for some of Dr Alex Heazell’s prevention work.
Sands’ Senior Research and Prevention Adviser, Charlotte Bevan, also spoke about the missed opportunities in monitoring and antenatal care highlighted in the MBRRACE Confidential Enquiry into antepartum stillbirths which found that 6 out of ten term stillbirths might have been prevented with better care. She pointed out that, depressingly, the same missed opportunities in care and monitoring pregnancy were highlighted in a similar report 15 years ago. She also praised the National Stillbirth Working Group for their work around delivering a better Post Mortems service for parents and improving training in gaining consent from parents. Where consent is done well, Wales has one of the highest post mortem consent rates in the UK. Charlotte stresses that all deaths must be reviewed adequately to understand where care has failed and that not learn lessons from a baby’s death is the biggest failing of all.
Eye on Wales also spoke to specialist obstetricians and researchers about improving monitoring in later pregnancy where an ultrasound scan can give more information than a tape measure and Wales’ involvement in the AFFIRM study which aims to understand the impact of improving information and the management of reduced fetal movements, which may be a sign that a baby is unwell. Ultimately researchers said we need to be able to make medicine more personalised so that we can identify which babies are at risk of stillbirth.
The importance of giving parents the option of creating memories in hospitals and afterwards and the quality of bereavement care were also highlighted.