What is a stillbirth?
Stillbirth is when you've been pregnant for 20 weeks or more and your baby dies before it's born
Stillbirth is the same as a miscarriage Miscarriage Miscarriage is when you lose your baby before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most miscarriages happen in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Bleeding and cramping are common signs of miscarriage If you... read more , except that a miscarriage occurs before 20 weeks and stillbirth occurs after 20 weeks
What causes a stillbirth?
Not all stillbirths are caused by the same problem. Doctors do tests to figure out the cause of a stillbirth. Often, they don’t find any cause. Sometimes they find a problem with the placenta (the organ that feeds your unborn baby), your baby, or your body.
Problems with the placenta
When the placenta pulls away from the uterus too early (placental abruption Placental Abruption Placental abruption is the premature detachment of the placenta from the wall of the uterus, usually after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Women may have abdominal pain and tenderness and vaginal bleeding... read more )
Problems that cause less blood to get to the baby (which means less oxygen and nutrients)
Problems with your baby
Abnormal genes or chromosomes
A birth defect
Problems with your body
High blood pressure that happens during pregnancy (preeclampsia Preeclampsia and Eclampsia Preeclampsia is a certain type of high blood pressure that happens during pregnancy. The placenta (afterbirth) is the organ in your uterus (womb) that feeds your unborn baby (fetus). Preeclampsia... read more )
Use of substances, such as cocaine, alcohol, or tobacco
A blood clotting problem
A problem in your thyroid gland
What are the symptoms of a stillbirth?
Often, after your baby dies, you go into labor. During labor, your doctor will see that the baby has died.
Sometimes the baby dies but you don't go into labor. You may have no symptoms for a while. Other times there are obvious symptoms:
Not feeling the baby move or kick
Bleeding from your vagina
How can doctors tell if I have a stillbirth?
Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of a stillbirth. The doctor will do tests to check your baby's health, such as an ultrasound Ultrasonography Ultrasonography is a safe imaging test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the insides of your body. Ultrasonography doesn't use radiation (x-rays). Ultrasonography is also called... read more (moving pictures of the inside of your uterus).
What do doctors do if I have a stillbirth?
If you've delivered the baby and the placenta, you won't need any treatment.
If the baby or the placenta are still in your body, they need to come out. Your doctor might:
Use a medicine that can start labor
Remove the baby and the placenta using surgical instruments put into your uterus (womb) through your vagina (birth canal)
If doctors need to do a surgical procedure, they will give you anesthesia (medicine to put you to sleep).
It's normal to feel grief, anger, and guilt after a stillbirth.
Consider talking with another person if you feel sad and are grieving the loss of your baby
Remind yourself that it’s very unlikely you did something to cause your stillbirth
If you’re worried about having another stillbirth, talk to a doctor who can discuss possible tests if needed
Remember that many women who have a stillbirth get pregnant again and give birth to healthy babies