Safer Baby Bundle – decreased fetal movement

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

As you may have heard, the Safer Baby Bundle was launched in Canberra last month. The bundle is designed to address evidence practice gaps in stillbirth prevention and includes a series of evidence-based eLearning modules. There are five elements to the bundle, and today on the blog we explore the decreased fetal movement (or DFM) module.

Dr Jocelyn Toohill, Director Midwifery in CEQ’s Office of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer said the DFM chapter aimed to raise awareness and improve clinicians’ care for women who have concerns about decreased fetal movement. The focus is on the care of women with a singleton pregnancy from 28 weeks’ gestation and onwards.

‘Stillbirth is often preceded by decreased fetal movements around 24 hours or more prior to diagnosis, so it is imperative that DFM is detected and managed as early as possible to prevent a possible stillbirth,’ Dr Toohill said. ‘DFM is also strongly linked to other serious circumstances such as preterm birth, infection, haemorrhage and other serious conditions,’ she added.

Dr Toohill said key points of the decreased fetal movement eLearning module included:

  • Clinicians should provide women with information about DFM by 28 weeks’ gestation and enquire with women about their baby’s movements at every visit from 28 weeks onwards.
  • Maternal concern about movement overrides all other definitions of DFM.
  • Clinicians should advise women that if they experience DFM to contact their healthcare provider immediately.

‘In addition to the five bundle elements, we emphasise the need for maternity services to address the other important aspects of best practice care to reduce stillbirth rates. This includes the recommendation that maternity services increase the availability of midwifery continuity of carer models to all women, and in particular, for women at increased risk of stillbirth.’

Image courtesy of Safer Baby Bundle, Centre for Stillbirth Excellence.

The development of the Safer Baby Bundle was led by the Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence in partnership with health departments from New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, and advocacy groups Stillbirth Foundation and Still Aware. Queensland will soon embark on a multi-site collaboration to embed the behavioural changes required at the local level to implement the bundle effectively. For more information, email or to complete the DFM eLearning module visit the website.

Last updated: 12 November 2019