Most mothers think that stillbirth is their fault. But what is the truth? A group of researchers from the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and the University of Newcastle says that mothers need not be worried as still birth is not their fault.
Based on research conducted by Distinguished Laureate Professor Roger Smith AM and his team from the Mothers and Babies Research Centre at HMRI, the team developed a video that gives a clear picture of stillbirths.
AGING OF THE PLACENTA
The researchers had in 2019 identified that unexplained stillbirth is often the result of aging of the placental. This aging process is complex and not affected by the behaviour of the mother, which has now been proved through the video, which is developed by a tool developed by the team..
Smith says: “What many people don’t realise is that the placenta is an organ of the baby, not the mother. As such, the mother has very little, to no control over that organ. She can’t prevent the aging from happening.”
The video “We are all born of the stars”, and accompanying article has been published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. It is a collaborative work between the Mothers and Babies Research Centre, University of Newcastle artist Lee Dedman and composer David Banney. While scientists generally work with journals to communicate research with doctors and other researchers, this video has been primarily created to communicate directly with the patients themselves. The video reaches through music and rich imagery the grieving parents who may be suffering from quilt and associated depression.
The video is likely to reduce the natural feeling of guilt that a mother experiences. Shame, anger and guilt are the emotions that run through a mother if given stillbirths.
Data from the US indicates that 83 per cent of mothers who have experienced perinatal loss including stillbirth experience guilt, linked to depression. Experiencing a stillbirth also increases the risk of relationship breakdown by 40 per cent. The scientists at HMRI are continuing to develop blood tests to identify the presence of an aging placenta that will allow delivery of the baby before the baby dies. The team is also working on drugs to help slow the aging of the placenta and hopefully prevent the stillbirth.