SA stillbirth action plan aims to improve care and communication, how many deaths are investigated
Warning: This story contains content that may be distressing to some readers.
When Larissa Genat made the heartbreaking discovery that her first daughter, Ariella, was stillborn, she didn’t know what to expect in the future.
- Six babies are stillborn every day in Australia
- Bereaved parents have shared their experiences with SA Health to help inform South Australia’s stillbirth action plan
- More education will be provided to parents and healthcare workers
“I was full term at the end of a perfectly normal pregnancy, then during an appointment with a midwife we found out there was no heartbeat and our daughter was deceased,” said Ms. Genat.
Ms Genat said she was lucky to have a supportive midwife throughout the difficult process.
“She was with us during the diagnosis during labour, for our birth, she was with us when we left the hospital and she continued to visit us afterwards for follow-up care,” she said. declared.
But Ms Genat said some women she spoke with had no experience of support.
“I know women who have seen their midwife leave halfway through work because their shift ended or doctors arrived not realizing the baby was already dead, or asked them to sign an autopsy halfway through labor,” she said.
Ms Genat and other bereaved parents recently shared their experiences with SA Health to help inform South Australia’s new stillbirth action plan to improve bereavement care and communication around the inquest on stillbirth.
The plan also aims to increase the rate of relatives choosing to investigate causes of death.
“We chose not to do an autopsy, but I read this information now and I think that’s what I wish I had nine years ago,” Ms Genat said.
“The only way we can help prevent stillbirths is to understand why they happen and understand that we need to investigate.”
The state project follows the national plan
Every day in Australia, six babies are stillborn, affecting more than 2,000 families each year.
The risk is twofold for First Nations and some migrant women.
In 2020, the National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan was launched following a 2018 Senate inquiry into stillbirth.
Project manager for the South Australian plan, Bec Smith, said improving services during an emotionally difficult time could help expectant parents.
“Our stillbirth rate has remained relatively unchanged over the past 15 to 20 years despite advances in medical practice,” Ms Smith said.
“If we can try to find out why babies are dying, we can potentially put in place interventions.”
The new educational tool is available in multiple languages and also includes cultural awareness training to help all families.
More support for healthcare workers
Lyn Bastian has been a midwife for about 30 years.
She said no formal education was ever given on stillbirth when she entered the workforce.
“Most of my learning has been through colleagues, doctors, social workers, and that has grown over the years,” Ms Bastian said.
“If we can give women, their support people and their families consistent information, then they can actually make the right decision for themselves.”
Ms Genat, who has had four children since Ariella was born, said she hopes her experience will help families through their most difficult times.
“It’s such an honor to share her story and know that she still has an impact even though she’s gone.”