Adelaide researchers claim that half of Australia's stillbirths could be prevented if expectant mothers followed their new found advice.
A world-first study of 533 women identified for the first time that the foetus often struggled vigorously immediately before stillbirth and its kicking strength weakened, UniSA’s Associate Professor Jane Warland said.
The study, published in the journal BioMed Central Pregnancy and Childbirth contains two important warnings added to the usual advice that mothers should watch only for less movement by the foetus. These are to watch for vigorous struggling and for weaker kicking.
"The message is immediately report any change in the unborn baby’s movements, such as a sudden flurry of increased baby activity that mums would describe using words like ‘crazy’ ‘wild’, ‘ballistic’ or “nuts’," Assoc Prof Warland said.
Prof Warland further added, "Women in our study often reported this kind of movement in the days and hours prior to their baby’s death, so if the woman appreciates this as a warning sign of a baby in trouble, there may be a short window of opportunity for her to seek immediate care and possible intervention to prevent foetal death."
Assoc Prof Warland said the study shows the importance of the message that woman need to get to know her unborn baby.
Australian Medical Association SA president Professor William Tam said if any pregnant woman was worried about changes in her baby’s usual movement, she should contact her obstetrician.
Pregnant women should take note of:
- Foetal movements becoming weaker
- Any major change in pattern
- Change in hiccuping pattern
- A sudden increase of activity
- Any reduction in the number of times the baby usually moves
A version of this article appeared on Women's Health Australia.