Regardless of how recent their loss, it’s important parents who have been through the trauma of stillbirth know where to go for support when they need it.
“There is no right way to feel or grieve the death of a baby and you can’t rush grief and healing,” said Associate Professor Julie Green, Board Director of the Australian Government-funded parenting website raisingchildren.net.au and Acting CEO of the Parenting Research Centre.
“Experiencing stillbirth can be very isolating for parents and everyone deals with grief in different ways. It can take years for some parents to openly discuss stillbirth, and others may not want to discuss it at all. Stillbirth is not something that you can ever prepare for, so it’s understandable parents don’t know where to turn.
“But many people find that it does help to talk to someone about what they’ve gone through. This may include talking to professionals, other parents who have experienced stillbirth or close friends and family.”
There are a number of known contributing risk factors for stillbirth, including sleeping on your back in late pregnancy, complications during labour, maternal medical conditions and lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy. But often, we don’t know the exact cause of a stillbirth.
Stillbirth Foundation CEO Victoria Bowring said the Senate Committee was an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of further research into the causes.
“In 65% of stillbirth cases, the cause of death is unknown,” Ms Bowring said. “This lack of clarity adds to the profound effect on families. Better understanding of the factors leading to stillbirth is critical if we are to reduce the more than 2000 stillbirths in Australia every year.”
The raisingchildren.net.au website has a number of recently updated resources for parents dealing with grief after stillbirth, including information on sharing your grief, acknowledging your baby’s death, looking after yourself, trying for another pregnancy, and where to get help. Your GP may be a good source of advice but there are also places to go that do not need a doctor’s referral.
- To access the raisingchildren.net.au resources, including family stories visit: http://raisingchildren.net.au/stillbirth_neonatal_death/stillbirth_neonatal_death.html
- Submissions to the Senate Committee close on 29 June. If you would like to make a submission visit: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Stillbirth_Research_and_Education/Stillbirth
- Learn more about stillbirth research at: http://stillbirthfoundation.org.au
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