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Maternity unit initiative has reduced stillbirths at the hospital

Maternity Unit - July 2015

Stillbirths at George Eliot Hospital’s Maternity Unit have reduced after midwives brought in a range of measures to support prospective parents.

Earlier this year George Eliot Hospital’s Maternity Unit introduced initiatives to improve support for parents-to-be around fetal movements as it embraces national guidelines to reduce stillbirth. 

The NHS Saving Babies’ Lives guidance published earlier this year was part of a Government drive to half the rate of stillbirths across the UK by 2030. The guidance brings together four key elements of care based on best practice and evidence in order to help reduce stillbirth rates. Since implementing the initiative in early 2016, the George Eliot Hospital has reduced its stillbirth rates – only one was recorded between May and September.

Women’s and Children’s Risk Manager and Governance Lead, Gaynor Armstrong said: “Every stillbirth is a tragedy, but we are pleased to see the reduction in these sad events at the hospital since we put these initiatives in place. This work is now paying off and we are proud of the support we give to our mums-to-be.”

The George Eliot Maternity team has been using the guidance to implement the four main themes within the campaign. These themes include further support for women to help reduce smoking in pregnancy, developing customised growth charts to help monitor baby growth, providing specialist advice and information around fetal movement and specialist training for staff to monitor baby’s heart rate during labour.

Maternity staff had developed an action plan to support the new advice and implementing processes to help protect babies’ lives in the local community. A lead consultant and a manager will help to implement each of the four care bundles within the improvement campaign which launched on 1 May 2016. This initiative enhanced the existing services currently being delivered at the George Eliot.

George Eliot Hospital developed its own leaflet to support the campaign and issued advice on reduced fetal movement to all women by week 25 of their pregnancy. It also used its new facebook page to help share the message.  

The team has two dedicated community midwives called PIPPS (Providing Information and Positive Parenting Support), who look after pregnant teenagers and vulnerable adults. Their caseload numbers vary between 30 and 50 women at present each. The hospital also has a specialist obesity midwife.

Further information

The four key areas covered in the campaign included:

Reducing smoking in pregnancy – All women will be offered a test to help establish the level of carbon monoxide they have been exposed to, as well as local support to stop smoking. This will ensure that smokers and non-smokers are fully aware of the risks to their unborn baby and supported to quit or have home appliances safety checked. The latest figures show that just over one in 10 women smoke during their pregnancy.

Enhancing detection of fetal growth restriction – Growth of babies will continue to be monitored and recorded on customised growth charts.

Improving awareness of the importance of fetal movement – Women and their partners will be provided more information and empowered to monitor their baby’s movements through clear and consistent advice.

Improving fetal monitoring during labour – ongoing training will be provided to staff about monitoring of the baby’s heart during labour. Further information about George Eliot Hospital Maternity Services can be found here.

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