According to the NHS, there are over 3,600 stillbirths a year in the UK alone. That accounts for one in every 200 births that occur, 11 every single day.
We all know that the love we have for our children starts from the minute you find out they’re on their way. It’s nine months of dreaming, planning and wishing for all the memories and adventures that come along with that. To think that 11 families a day are having that dream shattered shocks me.
I knew stillbirths can happen, I have had two friends who have unfortunately been through this, but in this modern day of medicine and increased access to healthcare, I’m surprised at how high the statistics are.
The NHS is now working to improve women’s health during pregnancy, leading to a fall in the UK stillbirth rate. Their aim is to reduce the rate of premature births from 8 to 6% by 2025. If the drive can get enough support behind it and awareness, then maybe we can help save some families form this heartbreak. They’re also looking to improve the safety of the birthing processes for mothers and babies. Amy, 26, knows just how dangerous birth can be.
When her son Theo was born, he suffered from shoulder dystocia, meaning his shoulder became stuck during delivery. After the birth, he was taken to a specialist unit for treatment, but he now has a paralysed right hand and can’t bend his elbow, due to nerve damage. Theo is a tough cookie though! He now sees a range of nerve and orthopaedic specialist as well as physiotherapists. He has also had an operation with another due to take place next year.
Although Theo is a happy, funny young man, this is a lot for him to go through at such a young age. I think I would struggle and I’m in my 20s. The NHS can prevent this in the future by looking into how this is caused and learning how to prevent it.
The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists produced a report in 2015 as part of their “Each baby counts’ initiative which is a good source for more information on safer births but what really stood out for me was the number of stillbirths not being investigated at all, especially those who were (as far as everyone was aware) problem free up until the day of birth. Surely to help create a safer environment for women to give birth in, we need to first investigate and find out what has been going wrong. It would also provide answers for their families. Many families spend the rest of their lives wondering about what happened, could it have been changed and more. This could also help give those families the answers they deserve.
Safer births are something we shouldn’t be thinking about doing something about, it’s something which should have had action many years ago.