A campaign has been launched to “break the silence around stillbirth” in a bid to prevent more mothers-to-be from losing their babies.
The drive, which is the first of its kind in Scotland, will advise pregnant women of three ways in which they can help reduce the risk of it happening.
Expectant mothers are being urged to go to sleep on their side, to avoid smoking and to monitor their unborn child’s movements.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman launched the new campaign, which was developed in partnership with NHS Scotland and charities who deal with stillbirths, Sands UK, Held in Our Hearts and SiMBA.
Every week four babies in Scotland are stillborn, and Ms Freeman said “there is still more we can do” to prevent such deaths.
She said: “Stillbirth and the loss of a baby is a tragedy. We need to break the silence around stillbirth and challenge the belief that it is ‘just’ something that can happen to pregnant women.
“In Scotland, four babies a week are stillborn.
“In 2018, Scotland had the lowest stillbirth rates on record, which was 3.7 stillbirths per 1,000 livebirths.
“Although the rate of stillbirth in Scotland has reduced significantly in recent years there is still more that we can do.”
Ms Freeman added: “While we sometimes don’t know the cause of stillbirth, this campaign aims to reduce Scotland’s stillbirth rate even further by providing expectant mums with an understanding of how they can help reduce the risk of it happening.”
Chief midwifery officer and deputy chief nursing officer Ann Holmes said: “In our line of work we are often asked by expectant mums what they can do to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy, so it’s great that three key behaviours have been identified that have the potential to reduce stillbirth.”
She added: “It is important that pregnant women receive consistent advice about going to sleep on their side, not smoking and monitoring their baby’s movements during pregnancy.”