Crucial we do all we can for vulnerable pregnant women says RCM on new Tommy’s research  

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The Royal College of Midwives has said it is crucial that action is taken, particularly for pregnant women who are vulnerable and victims of domestic abuse, to reduce risk of stillbirth, in response to new research from charity Tommy’s.

Findings from the Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre show a heighten risk of stillbirth for mothers experiencing deprivation, unemployment, stress and domestic abuse in pregnancy.

Commenting, the RCM’s Executive Director for Professional Leadership, Birte Harlev-Lam said:

“The findings of this research are concerning and really do highlight the importance of ensuring all women attend all their antenatal appointments, particularly those who are most vulnerable as we know this can lower the risk of stillbirth. It is important we don’t pigeon-hole women from the first appointment, that we treat each woman as an individual and tailor their care and support accordingly. Sadly, the ongoing shortage of midwives mean that they are constantly under time pressure. Midwives need enough time with women during antenatal appointments, so they can get a clearer picture of what may impact their health and that of their baby.”


The study identified that women who declined to answer a question on domestic abuse at antenatal screening where four times more likely to experience stillbirth then those who disclosed concerns to their midwife. The RCM says a relationship of trust between a midwife and a woman who is a victim of domestic abuse or those at risk of violence during pregnancy is crucial to reduce this risk and keep the women and her baby safe.

The RCM has joined forces with Tommy’s and the Royal College of Obstetricians (RCOG) to create the Tommy’s National Centre for Maternity Improvement which works to prevent stillbirths and preterm births across the UK.

Birte concluded:

“It is vital that pregnant women continue to attend all their antenatal appointments. Maternity services are open, and midwives are there to offer care and support. If you are worried at any time about your baby’s movements, you should contact your midwife or maternity service immediately.”


Notes to editors

The new research paper was published today in the British Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. For more information about this ongoing study and other Tommy’s stillbirth prevention work, visit

Please contact Lindsey Frodsham on [email protected] or 0207 398 343

About the RCM

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at


About Tommy’s

1 in 4 women will lose a baby during pregnancy or birth; we believe that every baby lost is one too many. Tommy’s is a national charity that works tirelessly to reduce the UK’s unacceptable rates of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. It funds pioneering medical research to discover the causes of baby loss and helps women at every stage of their pregnancy journeys, supporting them and their partners with expert information and care. Tommy’s exists to make pregnancy safer for all and ensure that excellent maternity care is available for every family, every baby, everywhere.


About Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre

1 in every 250 pregnancies in the UK ends in a stillbirth - that’s 8 babies a day. Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre, established in 2011, brings together world-leading clinicians and scientists working to understand and prevent stillbirth and related pregnancy complications. Based at the University of Manchester’s St Mary’s Hospital, the centre has grown to include a network of 5 clinics where our research breakthroughs can be translated into clinical practice for mothers with high risk pregnancies: Rainbow (mothers with history of stillbirth), Placenta (babies at risk of growth problems in the womb), Lips (mothers with lupus and connective tissue disorders), Mavis (mothers at risk of high blood pressure) and Velocity (mothers with diabetes).