'I’d Heard About Stillbirth, But You Never Believe it Could Happen to You' - Women's Health

‘I’d Heard About Stillbirth, But You Never Believe it Could Happen to You’

Six babies are stillborn in Australia every day.

by | Sep 29, 2021

Launched this week, The Stillbirth Promise is an urgent call-to-action for Australians to play a role in reducing the nation’s tragic stillbirth rate for the first time in more than 20 years. At the helm of the call are bereaved parents, Holly and Josh, in memory of their stillborn son, Bluey, and in the hope of sparing other families from experiencing their same loss.
 
Six babies are stillborn in Australia every day. There are ways to reduce the risk, but they aren’t talked about enough. The Stillbirth Promise is a commitment to sharing the three key behaviours proven to reduce the risk of stillbirth (sleeping on your side; monitoring baby’s movements; avoiding smoking or second-hand smoke) to help them become common knowledge across Australia. 
 
Here is their story.

At about 36 weeks’ pregnancy, Josh and Holly gave birth to their firstborn son. To them, he was perfect in every way, but for lack of breath. 

“I’d heard stories of people going through stillbirth, but you don’t ever really believe it could happen to you,” says Josh.

Around 2,200 families experience the tragedy of stillbirth each year in Australia. While not all stillbirths are preventable, there are ways to reduce the risk.  

After facing this devastating loss, the Brisbane couple have been committed to raising public awareness about stillbirth and supporting the Still Six Lives initiative. By sharing their story and making The Stillbirth Promise, they hope to inspire the public to join a movement that has the potential to save an unborn life. They also hope that encouraging the conversation about stillbirth will help others who have experienced it, to feel heard, and less alone.

“We’re encouraging Australians to make The Stillbirth Promise in the hope of sparing other families from the devastating loss of losing a baby”, says Holly. “Understanding more about stillbirth could save a baby’s life.”

Holly and Josh are calling on Australians to make a commitment to spreading critical awareness of the three key actions to reduce the risk of stillbirth with their networks and communities, and encouraging others to do the same.

“Our pregnancy was, for the most part, such a special and happy time. Bluey was the nickname given to him when we were about seven weeks pregnant (the size of a blueberry at the time).

“The nickname stuck throughout the pregnancy, and our family had all come to know and love him as Bluey. When he was born, we couldn’t bear to give him a new name,” shares Holly.

On a Monday morning in January 2018, Holly sat up in bed searching for movements, but there were none. Concerned something might be wrong, Holly contacted the pregnancy assessment unit at her hospital and was advised to go into hospital, where it was ultimately confirmed that Bluey’s heart had stopped beating.

“We were in disbelief. I just hoped that it was all a mistake, that they’d got it wrong somehow and our baby boy was going to be fine. But when he was born, the deafening silence in the delivery room, where there should have been newborn baby cries, confirmed our worst fears,” says Holly.

The couple reflect on feeling the same joy a parent would experience following the birth of a healthy child, after Holly delivered Bluey.

“Despite being far from the way we had expected, we still felt sheer pride and so much love when we met Bluey for the first time.

“The short time I spent with Bluey made me realise that happiness and sadness can coexist,” says Holly. “Life after Bluey can be described as bittersweet. He taught us the true meaning of unconditional love, but we will never really know him.”

Stillbirth does not discriminate. It’s a universal issue; it can happen to anyone.

“I feel a sense of injustice that Bluey doesn’t get to live his life and that he doesn’t get to know the love we have for him, but we keep his memory alive in many ways.

“We believe our second child, Olive, is a gift from Bluey. We tell her all about her big brother and say goodnight to him before bed every night,” Holly continues.

“The Stillbirth Promise is for Bluey, for Olive, for our loved ones who would like to have children, and for all Australians who may not know that stillbirth can touch their life,” adds Josh.

By making The Stillbirth Promise, Holly and Josh hope that the three key actions to reduce the risk of stillbirth will become common knowledge to expectant parents and the support networks around them. Expectant mothers are encouraged to:

  1. Sleep on their side after 28 weeks of pregnancy
  2. Monitor their baby’s regular pattern of movement. If any changes are noticed, either an increase or decrease, a maternity care professional should be contacted immediately
  3. Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke.

“It’s bigger than just us. Six babies are stillborn every day in Australia – a rate that we had no idea about before losing Bluey,” says Holly. “With every sharing of the actions to reduce the risk of stillbirth, we can hope to achieve a future where fewer lives are lost.”

The Stillbirth Promise has been launched by Still Six Lives, a national stillbirth awareness and education initiative. Still Six Lives was developed to help dispel the stigma that surrounds stillbirth, break down social barriers that prevent parents of stillborn children receiving the love and support they need, and help reduce the risk of stillbirth through education around the three proven behaviours.

Funded by the Federal Government, Still Six Lives is delivered by a consortium of Australian organisations. Focused on supporting families through pregnancy and pregnancy loss, as well as raising funds for research into, and awareness of stillbirth, the group includes Red Nose including SANDS (Stillbirth and Newborn Death Support), Stillbirth Foundation Australia, Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence and Blue Hearts which Holly and Josh established in memory of Bluey, and which has contributed to funding The Stillbirth Promise.

For more information and to make The Stillbirth Promise, visit stillbirthpromise.org.au

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It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

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New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 

Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

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Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?