That’s the number of babies that are stillborn. Every. Single. Day.
That’s the number of babies stillborn in 2015. Or at least, that’s the best estimate. You see, researchers don’t know exactly how many babies are stillborn each year, because not every stillbirth is recorded. In many countries, barriers to accessing healthcare and low value placed on women’s health means stillbirths are not even counted.
But we mothers know differently. Our babies matter. They need to count. Let’s change that.
- End the silence around stillbirth. Tell everyone you know that stillbirth isn’t something that happens to other people in other places, and it isn’t something you recover from in a week or a month. In countries like Canada, the United States and Australia stillbirth rates are uneven. You are twice as likely to have a stillborn baby if you are African American (US) or Aboriginal (Canada and Australia). Other women at higher risk include immigrants and women of lower socio-economic status.
- Globally, too many women lose their babies during labor, due to lack of access to trained birth professionals. Support initiatives to improve education for midwives in the developing world.
- Educate. Educate women about the risks. Educate women about the importance of health care in pregnancy and how to reduce stillbirth. In the United States, the biggest risks are smoking, obesity and maternal age (both older women and teenage moms have higher rates of pregnancy loss). We are far too afraid to say anything to women thinking about becoming pregnant, because they might be offended or scared. This taboo has to stop.
And one more thing. Join the campaign. #EndStillbirth
Last month the Lancet launched a special issue on stillbirth. The Lancet is one of the top medical journals in the world. It is read by health care professionals in every country, in every discipline. This matters. Over the next little while, I’ll be reading these articles in more detail, with a goal to making the research around stillbirth easier to understand for mothers like you and me. Together, we are a powerful group. Because today there are 2.6 million women who lost a baby in the last year, and our voices are strong.
Amanda Ross-White is the proud mother of four beautiful children, including her twin boys Nate and Sam, who were stillborn in 2007. She is eternally grateful to watch her rainbow children, daughter Rebecca and son Alex, grow around her. She is also the author of Joy at the End of the Rainbow: A Guide to Pregnancy After a Loss, which won second place in the American Journal of Nursing’s Book of the Year Awards (Consumer Health).