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"Alfie will always be our first born. But forever our youngest child."

After multiple rounds of IFV, Brad and Claire Foord were thrilled when they found out they were expecting. Alfie was to be their miracle baby.

“We were over the moon,” Brad told The Project last night. Claire said they “honestly thought that was the hard part over, and that only the best was to come.”

But at 40 weeks pregnant, Claire noticed something wasn’t right.

Claire Brad the project screenshot
(Image: Screenshot via Channel 10)

Alfie had not been moving as much as she should. Then Claire began having contractions.

“I just said, ‘this baby wants out, Brad. She wants out.’ And… nothing.”

But the labour wasn’t progressing, so the couple went to the hospital where Claire was given an ultrasound.

“The nurse just looked at me and said, ‘I’m sorry’.”

That ultrasound was the last image they saw of Alfie before she was born.

She was “a perfect baby with nothing wrong with her”, but Alfie was still-born.

“It’s something that I would wish on nobody,” said Brad.

According to University of Queensland Associate Professor Vicki Flenady, there are over three million stillbirths globally each year. That equates to six Australian families losing a child every single day. New research shows that thousands of stillbirths could be prevented if Australian parents were better informed about the warning signs.

Stillbirths often occur after the mother notices a lack of movement. “She senses the baby isn’t well,” Professor Flenady says. “But often women delay reporting that until sometimes it’s too late. Women need to trust their instincts.”

Claire Foord told The Project she wishes she had been told that with Alfie, “because she really had tried so hard to speak through me.”

Now, the Foord’s rely on the photograph’s they have of Alfie to keep her memory alive. “That was our family portrait,” said Claire.

Heartfelt stillbirth channel 10 screenshot
Gavin Blue (Image: Screenshot via Channel 10)
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Gavin Blue, is a photographer, and after the stillbirth of his own daughter in 2006, he established the charity Heartfelt, of which he is the president. Gavin and the other Heartfelt volunteers donate their time and services to parents, capturing the final moments for more than six thousand families.

“Parents can remember the child the way they want to remember them,” he said. “They might have been in this medical environment with machines all around them, but through the photos, you see their child.”

Mamamia‘s co-founder and creative director Mia Freedman told The Project, “You want everyone else to acknowledge that that baby existed. Because that baby has existed for its mother for nine months.”

According to The Project, less than 10 per cent of stillbirths are the result of foetal abnormalities, which demonstrated the necessity to improve education when it comes to recognising the signs. Education and early intervention could save lives.

Professor Flenady told The Project women who are overweight or obese, women who smoke and women over the age of 35 are at a higher risk for stillbirth. That risk increases again for women over the age of 40.

The devastating truth is that some of the deaths of babies like Alfie could be prevented, and that makes Claire Foord angry. “She could be here, and should actually be here,” she said.

Since she lost her little girl Claire has established a stillbirth awareness group called Still Aware. Each year, on Alfie’s birthday, Still Aware holds a gathering for parents who have suffered loss through stillbirth to remember and celebrate their babies.

Last year, Brad and Claire Foord welcomed a beautiful baby boy. A little brother for Alfie.

“Alfie will always be our first born,” said Claire. “But forever our youngest child.”

You can watch last night’s full episode of The Project, including Claire and Brad’s story on TenPlay.

For more information or support services, you can visit Still Aware or the Australian Stillbirth Foundation.