The health of both mothers and babies can have important ongoing implications. In 2021, there were 315,705 babies born to 311,360 mothers in Australia.
Birth rate has rebounded but mothers are older
In 2021, the rate of women of reproductive age (aged 15 to 44 years) giving birth has increased to 61 per 1,000 women compared with a decreasing trend over the past decade (from 64 per 1,000 women in 2011 to 56 per 1,000 in 2020). The average age of women who gave birth has increased from 30.0 years in 2011 to 31.1 in 2021.
Most mothers access antenatal care and fewer mothers are smoking
In 2021, 80% of women who gave birth accessed antenatal care in the first trimester of their pregnancy, and 96% had 5 or more antenatal care visits. The proportion of women who reported smoking at any time during pregnancy has fallen from 13% in 2011 to 8.7% in 2021.
Around 1 in 3 mothers gave birth by caesarean section
The rate of women giving birth by caesarean section has risen, from 32% in 2011 to 38% in 2021.
More First Nations mothers are accessing antenatal care and fewer are smoking during pregnancy
There were improvements over the past decade in antenatal care attendance in the first trimester (from 50% in 2012 to 70% in 2021) and smoking at any time during pregnancy (from 50% in 2011 to 42% in 2021).
Rates of pre-term birth and low birthweight are stable
There has been little change in the proportion of pre-term births ranging between 8.3% in 2011 and 8.2% in 2021 with a peak of 8.7% reached most recently in 2018, and low birthweight babies remained steady at 6.3% between 2011 and 2021.
Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of maternal death
In 2020, the maternal mortality rate was 5.5 deaths per 100,000 women giving birth (16 deaths). In the decade from 2011 to 2020, cardiovascular disease was the most common cause of death. During this decade there were 194 women reported to have died during pregnancy, or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, with a maternal mortality rate of 6.4 deaths per 100,000 women giving birth.
Congenital anomaly is the most common cause of perinatal death
In 2020, 10.1 per 1,000 babies (3,004) died in the perinatal period, and congenital anomaly was the most common cause of perinatal death. Of these deaths, just over 75% were stillbirths (2,273) and just under 25% (731) were neonatal deaths.