Media Release: Saving babies’ lives - Safer Baby Bundle

15 October 2019

Stopping up to 200 preventable and tragic stillbirths each year is the goal of the new Australian Safer Baby Bundle educational resources being launched today, 15 October 2019,  in Parliament House, Canberra.  Health care professionals will now have access to a new package of clinical guidelines, position statements and practical tools to help address Australia’s unacceptably high rate of stillbirth.  The Safer Baby Bundle eLearning Resources will be launched today by Health Minister Greg Hunt, with the specific goal of reducing the rate of stillbirth from 28 weeks’ gestation by 20 per cent over the next three years. Six babies are stillborn every day in Australia - or 2,170 per year - and little progress has been made in reducing stillbirth rates over the last 20 years. This is despite research showing up to 30 percent of stillbirths could be prevented through better health care.  The Safer Baby Bundle eLearning Resources have been designed by the Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence in collaboration with maternity professionals and bereaved parents across Australia.  The Centre’s Director, Professor Vicki Flenady, said “Today is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, when we remember the more than 2000 babies stillborn each year in Australia and the anguish their families endure.” “It is also a day to redouble our efforts to reduce Australia’s unacceptably high rate of stillbirth. The Safer Baby Bundle eLearning Resources will help in this fight by focussing on five key areas
where evidence shows improved health care outcomes can save lives,” Professor Flenady said. The five components of the Safer Baby Bundle are:

● Supporting women to stop smoking in pregnancy
● Improving detection and management of fetal growth restriction
● Raising awareness and improving care for women with decreased fetal movements
● Improving awareness of maternal safe going-to-sleep position in late pregnancy
● Improving decision-making about the timing of birth for women with risk factors for stillbirth

The Safe Baby Bundle also emphasises the need for maternity services to address other important aspects of best practice care, including supporting women to access to same midwife throughout their pregnancy, and auditing every stillbirth so parents get the best information possible on why their baby died, and maternity services reduce risks for future families.  The Safer Baby Bundle eLearning Resources have been developed primarily for midwives, doctors, health service managers, nurses, and other health care providers, including Aboriginal health care providers. The Bundle includes best practice recommendations, implementation tools, evaluation strategies, face-to-face and eLearning educational programs and educational resources for women.  Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence Co-director David Ellwood said: “Urgent action is needed to address these gaps between what is known and what is done in maternity care in Australia.”  “With the promotion of woman-centred, respectful care as an integral part of the Bundle, it is expected that this initiative will improve women’s and families’ experience of maternity care,” Professor Ellwood said.  Similar bundles of care have been highly successful in reducing stillbirth in other jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom.  The Safer Baby Bundle received partnership funding via the National Health & Medical Research Council to enable implementation across NSW, Victoria and Queensland. An additional grant from the Medical Research Future Fund has made it possible for the initiative to be rolled out nationally.

Media Contact: Lauren Martyn-Jones, 0404 891 706
89 Degrees East Strategy + Communications 10