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Legal avenues can help prevent neonatal deaths and stillbirths and help with loss

Legal Avenues Can Help Prevent Neonatal Deaths And Stillbirths And Help With Loss

It is always so heartbreaking to hear stories of parents who have lost a child. As a mother, I cannot imagine the pain and loss they must feel. Newcastle couple Brianna Hudson and Joao Pedro Doege shared their story in an recent article in the Newcastle Herald.

Brianna went into labour at 38 weeks gestation after what she says was a perfect healthy pregnancy. She says she was sent home from hospital even though she had been labouring all day having been told that she was still in the early stages. She was told to labour at home until her waters broke, or until the pain became unbearable. Their baby, James, was born without a heartbeat on February 12. James had a hypercoiled umbilical cord.

In the article Brianna alleges the hospital didn’t do all the necessary foetal welfare checks.

“There were so many different things that happened that day that could have changed the outcome,” she says.
“But there is nothing anyone can do now.”

There is something people can do to prevent these tragic events from occurring. In our experience and as a result of handling many cases involving neonatal death and stillbirth, the trauma or death is often found to have been avoidable and a result of negligence. Holding those responsible accountable for any negligence ensures lessons are learned and changes to procedures are made. Learning what really happened and whether the death was avoidable – or not – helps give families a reason for the trauma and loss they have experienced and assists with the process of “moving on”.

The most recent Mothers and Babies Report shows there were 50 stillborn babies and 25 neonatal deaths in the Hunter and New England regions in 2016. In 2015, the figures were 79 and 37 respectively.

This week we have recognised stillbirths and neonatal deaths with International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In the Hunter, there was a special ceremony at Sandgate Cemetery’s Garden of The Innocents on at 6.15 pm to assist anyone who had lost a baby – during pregnancy or infancy – to remember, reflect and recognise their loss. The ceremony incorporated the International Wave of Light event, where participants across the globe are encouraged to burn a candle to form a “chain of light” for 24 hours to honour and remember lost babies.

If you have been impacted by the loss of a baby during pregnancy or birth, the miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death support group – SANDS – can provide support. Visit www.sands.org.au

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