The tragedy of stillbirth: 'An unfathomable amount of heartbreak'

Stillbirth statistics in Australia have barely changed in 20 years. Two scientists are driven to make progress, raise awareness and empower women

The Centre for Research Excellence in Stillbirth is in a grand heritage building within the vast Mater hospital complex in Brisbane. With verandahs on all sides, it’s fronted by palm trees and jacarandas in bloom. Aubigny was once a private house with a small synagogue – the Sisters of Mercy took it over and turned it into a hospital, one now so large it surely has its own postcode. A statue of the Virgin Mary at the entrance makes me think of the prayers and curses no doubt directed her way by suffering patients and their families for more than a century.

Stillbirth is one tragedy many people assume has been consigned to history. But the conversation I’m about to have in this lovely old building with the centre’s director, Professor Vicki Flenady, and her colleague, Dr Fran Boyle, demolishes that assumption. It is not a rare event.

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