Preventing heartbreak for families

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Eastern Health’s Women and Children Program is proud to announce that it is one of 20 services participating in Safer Care Victoria’s Safer Baby Collaborative. This project is aimed at reducing the rate of avoidable stillbirths after 28 weeks of pregnancy in Victoria by 20 per cent in the next year.

Every day parents around the world celebrate the birth of a child. Sadly, many also experience the heartbreak of stillbirth.

It is an extremely distressing time for parents, family and friends as they deal with the shock and grief of losing a baby. It is also a very challenging experience for the clinicians and staff involved in providing care to these families and their local community.

Although there are some lifestyle risk factors associated with stillbirth such as alcohol, drugs and smoking during pregnancy, all too often, the cause of a stillbirth is unknown.

Frustratingly, in many cases, there is no way of knowing if it was preventable and in the last two decades despite advances in medicine, the stillbirth rate has not significantly decreased.

However, there are steps pregnant women can take to lower the risk. These include attending regular antenatal appointments, early detection of growth problems, monitoring your baby’s movements and for women in their third trimester (any time after 28 weeks), sleeping on their side.

In the near future, our maternity patients will experience a focused approach to reducing stillbirths. Together, our goal is to continue to provide great maternity care for our communities within the eastern region.

For more information on this initiative, visit For more information about stillbirth, visit

Dr Penny Sheehan – Clinical Director, Obstetrics & Gynaecology

Women and Children Program, Eastern Health