Assembly stillbirth inquiry after mother's campaign

A third of stillbirths are at the end of a full term pregnancy Credit: PA

The Assembly's health committee is holding a one day inquiry into stillbirths in Wales. It's the result of lobbying by a Isobel Martin, a mother who lives near Sennybridge in Powys. Her first baby was stillborn and she's giving evidence today.

Isobel Martin noticed that her baby was moving less. Her midwife told her to record the number of kicks, which were getting fewer. A series of tests was carried out over the next three weeks until an ultrasound scan confirmed that the baby had died. Holly was stillborn after a 16 hour labour.

Isobel Martin started her campaign 25 years after Holly's death because there was little sign of progress in reducing the number of stillbirths. In contrast, there are now fewer neonatal deaths when babies with medical problems are born alive. The stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands, which is also giving evidence to AMs, says routine antenatal care in Wales is failing to spot too many babies who need help.

Sands says the perception that these babies are somehow 'meant to die' must be challenged. In 90% of cases there is no lethal congenital anomaly or any significant fetal condition. The majority of stillbirths are unexplained. The Welsh Government has established an National Stillbirths Management Group to look at how more can be done to achieve 'a healthy woman, a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby' whenever possible.