Birth rate is falling and mothers are older

In 2019, the rate of women aged 15–44 giving birth was slightly lower than a decade ago (57.6 per 1,000 women in 2019 compared with 64.6 per 1,000 in 2009). The average age of women who gave birth has increased from 30.0 years in 2009 to 30.8 in 2019.

Most mothers access antenatal care and fewer mothers are smoking

In 2019, 77% of women who gave birth accessed antenatal care in the first trimester of their pregnancy, and 96% had 5 or more visits. The proportion of women who report smoking at any time during pregnancy has fallen from 13.7% in 2010 to 9.3% in 2019.

One in 3 mothers gave birth by caesarean section

The rate of women giving birth by caesarean section has continued to rise, from 32% in 2009 to 36% in 2019.

Cardiovascular disease the most common cause of maternal death

In 2019, the maternal mortality rate was 6.4 deaths per 100,000 women (17) giving birth. In the decade from 2010 to 2019, cardiovascular disease was the most common cause of death. During this period there were 200 women reported to have died during pregnancy, or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, with a maternal mortality rate of 6.7 deaths per 100,000 women giving birth. 

Rates of pre-term birth and low birthweight are stable

There has been little change in the proportion of pre-term (ranged from 8.2% to 8.6% between 2009 and 2019), and low birthweight babies (ranged from 6.2% to 6.6% between 2009 and 2019).

Congenital anomaly the most common cause of perinatal death

In 2019, 9.6 per 1,000 babies (2,897) died in the perinatal period, and congenital anomaly was the most common cause of perinatal death. Of these deaths, just over 75% were stillbirths (2,183) and just under 25% (714) were neonatal deaths.

Positive trends for Indigenous mothers

There were improvements over the past decade in antenatal care attendance in the first trimester (from 49% in 2012 to 67% in 2019), smoking at any time during pregnancy (from 50% in 2009 to 43% in 2019) and a small decrease in the proportion of babies born to Indigenous mothers who were small for gestational age (from 14.4% in 2013 to 13.7% in 2019).