Better monitoring of pregnant women can prevent stillbirth

Royal College of Midwives responds to new report on prevention of stillbirth


The Royal College of Midwives has warned that its members have less time to carry out essential assessments on pregnant women because their time is increasingly restricted.

The college was commenting following the publication of a report that found the risk of stillbirth could be reduced by better monitoring of women during pregnancy and early delivery of babies.

RCM director for midwifery Louise Silverton called for more research in the area and added: 'Midwives must have the time to do a thorough initial assessment of a woman. We are concerned that the amount of time midwives have to do these assessments is being squeezed more and more. Moving forward, we must also ensure women have ongoing risk assessments during pregnancy.

'We also need to ensure women are aware of the normal pattern of fetal movement for their baby, and of the importance for women to inform someone if this changes. Again, this comes from midwives being able to spend time with women to discuss these issues. Continuity of care and of carer can play a crucial part in further reducing stillbirth rates.'

Gordon Smith, from the University of Cambridge and author of the report, said: 'Maternal risk factors for stillbirth include it being their first baby, being over 40 years old, smoking and obesity. While women should be encouraged to address risk factors such as smoking and obesity, the only way to prevent antepartum stillbirth in an otherwise apparently healthy infant is to induce delivery. Of course, this requires identifying women at high risk and needs to be balanced against the risks inherent in early delivery and preterm birth.'

The report, Prevention of stillbirth, has been published in The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist journal.

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