It is a welcome change for many women who have gone through the unfortunate and painful experience of having a stillborn baby; the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census document, to be filled out on August 9, will now recognise stillborn babies.
Stillbirth in Australia is considered when the death of a baby occurs before or during birth, from 20 weeks of pregnancy onwards. Six babies are born still in Australia each day, according to the Stillbirth Foundation Australia. In previous years, the census has always stipulated ‘live births’ only which has left many families feeling sad and disappointed.
Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally, patron of the Stillbirth Foundation Australia gave birth to a stillborn daughter, Caroline, in 1999. In a discussion with 702 ABC Sydney, she says this move by the government will help women “feel for the first time that their full experience of motherhood is being understood and recognised by the Government.”
There’s a growing awareness in the community that children who are born still, who are not born alive, are nonetheless children.
The change is also a reflection of changing community standards.
“There’s a growing awareness in the community that children who are born still, who are not born alive, are nonetheless children,” says Ms Keneally.
She also believes that the data will provide valuable insight, compelling further research into the incidence and prevention of stillbirths in Australia. Stillbirth Foundation Australia reports that one in 135 births will be stillbirth, yet the cause of the baby’s death will never be known. In spite of advancements in the fields of technology and medicine, the rate of stillbirth has not declined in two decades.
“Until we start to measure it, we really aren’t going to get the attention that I believe we deserve to put into research that can help us reduce that number.”
More information about stillbirth and support.