Despite phenomenal advances in maternity care over the past fifty years babies still die around the time of their birth and the causes may be varied. Pregnancy loss remains the most common complication of pregnancy today with one in five pregnancies ending in loss. These losses can occur at any stage from fertilisation through pregnancy to birth.
Stillbirth is when the baby, greater than 24 weeks gestation or weighing more than 500 grams, is born having never shown signs of life. Most of the estimated 2,000,000 stillbirths annually, happen in low and middle resource countries, and occur for a combination of reasons: lack of access to trained healthcare assistance around pregnancy and birth, poor nutrition, and a dearth of resources — to name but a few. Stillbirth remains an issue for high resource countries like Ireland also. In high resource countries, it is expected that one in two hundred pregnancies annually will end in stillbirth. Despite our best efforts these rates have remained static for the past ten years. On average there are three hundred and fifty stillbirths in Ireland every year. To put that into context that is a jumbo jet full of babies who never get to go home with their parents, who never get to fulfill their milestones, but these children are never forgotten about by their parents.