Jayne Azzopardi: 'The terrifying question I keep asking since becoming a mum'

Jayne and her son Joey
Jayne and her son Joey Photo: Instagran

"Is he still breathing?"

I've lost count of the number of times I've asked this question in the six months since I became a mum.

At midnight.. 2am.. 3am.. 530am.. Even though he was sleeping in the same room, if it felt like it had been "too long" since my baby had made a noise, I would zoom in on the baby monitor just so I could see his little chest moving up and down. Sometimes, I'd even drag myself out of bed and put my hand softly on his chest.

The first time Joey slept through the night, he may have been well-rested in the morning, but I was as tired as ever - having woken with a start every few hours, unable to go back to sleep until I'd checked that little chest was still moving.

At other times, I'd find myself Googling "SIDS" and "baby sleep guidelines" in the wee hours, looking for reassurance that I was doing everything possible to keep us in the low risk category.

After a quick straw poll of my friends, I know I'm not alone. For a new mum - for any parent -  the spectre of what's now known as Sudden Infant Death in Infancy (SUDI) is terrifying.


Best way to spend a rainy day 🌧 ❤️

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For 32 years it has been raising awareness and funds for research, education and bereavement services for those families forced to deal with the unfathomable.

The results have been pretty incredible. In the three decades Red Nose Day has been operating, there has been an 85 per cent reduction in the incidence of SIDS.


In 1989, about 500 babies died every year of "cot death" or SIDS. Now, the number is less than 90. If you do the maths, that's more than ten thousand babies saved.


Sunset cuddles with my favourite boy 🤗 ... hold on tight, my little love 💕

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That's partly down to sleep guidelines. When my mother left hospital with me as a brand new baby, all mothers were advised to sleep us on our stomachs. We had toys and blankets in our cots. Not any more.

My late night googling and take-home information from the hospital advised us to sleep our baby on his back, to keep his head and face uncovered and have no pillows, loose blankets or bumpers in his crib. You can find the safe sleep guidelines here on their website.

While an 85 per cent reduction in the rate of sudden infant death is encouraging - any death is still too many. And at the same time that the incidence of sudden infant death has plummeted, there's been no real change in the number of stillbirths - that still sits at more than 2000 every year.

These days, Red Nose Day is no longer just about SUDI, but all sudden and unexpected deaths of babies and young children during pregnancy and early childhood. Its goal is to one day have zero baby deaths.

And we can all do our part this Friday, August 14. You can buy a red nose from Big W, create your own fundraiser, make an online donation and - for the first time - wear a digital red nose on Instagram or Facebook.

It won't stop me from zooming in on that baby monitor in the middle of the night, but it could help save one family from unimaginable loss. And, if Red Nose Day can achieve its goal, hopefully one day we can all sleep a little easier.

- Grow your own Digital Red Nose here on Instagram oFacebook
- Try a bouncing Digital Red Nose here on Instagram or Facebook 

Jayne Azzopardi is the Weekend Today newsreader and a Nine News presenter and senior reporter.

Find out more about Red Nose Day at rednose.org.au