Stillbirth is the birth of a baby who has died either:
- any time from 20 weeks into the pregnancy
- weighing 400 g or more at birth.
Stillbirth is one of the most devastating events a family can experience. It is often a hidden tragedy that causes significant personal, social and financial consequences for parents and families.
Stillbirth in Australia
In Australia, 6 babies are stillborn each day, affecting more than 2,000 Australian families each year. For 1 in 3 stillbirths, the cause is unknown.
There is increasing evidence that some stillbirths are preventable. Some countries – including the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and New Zealand – have successfully reduced stillbirth rates.
We are working to reduce stillbirth through the National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan.
We developed this plan following a senate inquiry into stillbirth in 2018 in consultation with:
- state and territory governments
- clinical experts
- non-government organisations
- bereaved parents.
Who the plan is for
The National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan is the first national plan to address stillbirth in Australia.
The plan includes actions to:
- reduce stillbirth across Australia
- ensure families affected by stillbirth receive respectful and supportive care
- reduce stillbirth among at-risk populations with higher rates.
These groups include:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
- some culturally and linguistically diverse women
- women living in rural and remote areas.
Aims of the plan
The plan aims to reduce stillbirth rates in Australia by 20% or more by December 2025.
Monitoring and Evaluation of the Plan
A Monitoring and Evaluation Framework 2022-2023 measures progress to reduce stillbirths and improve bereavement services.
Read the National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan Annual report (2022).
Funding stillbirth prevention
We fund various initiatives to support the plan’s goals, including:
- a new clinical care standard and updating guidelines for health professionals
- support for state and territory governments to increase stillbirth autopsies and investigations
- research into activities to prevent stillbirth education and awareness
- support for affected families
- national implementation of the Safer Baby Bundle.
Safer Baby Bundle
The Safer Baby Bundle provides information to maternity care providers and women to reduce the risk of stillbirth. It includes guidance for health professionals and resources for women.
The Safer Baby Bundle includes:
- support to stop smoking (for pregnant women and others that they live with)
- better awareness and management of decreased fetal movements
- better detection and management of slow fetal growth
- better advice to mothers about sleeping safely
- better decision-making around timing of birth for at-risk women.
The Safer Baby Bundle is being implemented throughout Australia. Work is underway to adapt the program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse people.