Indigenous mothers and those from poor backgrounds are not seeking or do not have access to the full range of antenatal checks during pregnancy, although almost all women in Australia had at least one check in 2013.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on mothers and babies, compiling 2013 data, revealed a country where the rate at which women give birth has increased in the past decade and the age at which they give birth has dropped.
File picture from 2014 above : Apunipima’s midwives are able to support expectant mums in more ways
As reported in todays AUSTRALIAN
There were almost 310,000 babies born that year, an increase of 20 per cent from 2003.
Almost every woman who did give birth in 2013 had at least one antenatal check but only 43 per cent visited in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy and 62 per cent attended in the first trimester.
Indigenous women were less likely to get checked in their first trimester — just 52 per cent did — and were also less likely to attend five or more antenatal visits, 85 per cent compared with 95 per cent of non-indigenous mothers.
Rates of smoking among pregnant women have dropped from 15 per cent to 12 per cent in the decade to 2013 and these mothers-to-be were more likely to get check-ups later in the pregnancy and less often.
“Tobacco smoking during pregnancy is the most common preventable risk factor for pregnancy complications, and is associated with poorer peri-natal outcomes including low birthweight, preterm birth and peri-natal death,” AIHW spokeswoman Fadwa Al-Yaman said.
“Despite higher rates of smoking during pregnancy and low birthweight babies, most indigenous mothers and their babies are doing well and there have been some recent improvements in areas such as in antenatal visits, and smoking during pregnancy.”
Among indigenous mothers, the average age is also increasing — to 25.3 years old — but they are still seven times more likely than non-indigenous mothers to be teenagers and 2½ times as likely to live in low socio-economic regions.
For those who gave birth, one-fifth were obese, a condition which contributes to complications for both women and babies.
There were 10 perinatal deaths — during pregnancy and shortly after birth — for every 1000 births recorded in 2013, most of which were fetal deaths.
About 6.4 per cent of live born babies recorded low birth weights of less than 2500 grams.
Most women — 97 per cent — gave birth in hospitals that year and just 0.3 per cent had home births. The rate of multiple births declined from 17 per 1000 mothers in 2003 to 15 in 2013. More than two-thirds of women had vaginal births while one-third had a caesarean section.