Understanding Stillbirth

What is Stillbirth?

The loss of a baby in the womb or during delivery (delivered on or after the 24th week of pregnancy) is referred to as stillbirth.

Why Is A Baby Stillborn?

Most often a stillbirth is detected early on when the baby is in the womb and sometimes there can be no clue until labour. In many cases, it may not be possible to identify the specific cause of stillbirth but some of the factors that could be responsible are:

  • Diabetes or hypertension in the expectant mother
  • Infections in the fetal tissues or the mother
  • Immunological disorders
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Rh incompatibility between the mother and fetus
  • Complications of the Cord including knots, a tightened cord, cord wrapped around fetal body or neck, cord prolapse (falling down through the open cervix during labor)
  • Placental problems like poor circulation, twin-to-twin transfusion (when twin circulations connect in a shared placenta)
  • Warning Signs of Stillbirth

    The signs of a possible stillbirth varies in each woman. However some of the more prominent symptoms that could indicate that something is wrong include:

  • Sudden disappearance of fetal movement/ kicking
  • Spotting or bleeding
  • Absence of fetal heartbeat when heard through a stethoscope or Doppler
  • Lack of fetal movement or heartbeat when seen on ultrasound
  • Stay Alert. Keep A Close Watch

    It is very important to pay close attention to your baby’s developments and also keep track of the fetal growth. If you sense that something is not right, do not hesitate to call your doctor immediately.

    There are a couple of things that you can do at home to help monitor your baby’s health.

  • You could invest in a fetal heart monitor for home use, which can help alert you to any problems with your baby
  • Keep a close count of the number of kicks your baby does everyday after the 25th week or so. If it’s anything less than ten kicks a day, then there could be a problem. So to rule out anything serious, make an appointment with your health care provider
  • Factors Leading to Stillbirth

    Though the chances of stillbirth are very rare in healthy pregnancies, there are several known risk factors that could affect the growing fetus. Smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, age of the mother, pre-existing health problems (high blood pressure or diabetes) are some of the factors that could increase the risk of stillbirth.

    Treatment Of Stillbirth

    Several factors like gestation period, fetus size and time since heartbeat stopped are taken into consideration, before treatment of stillbirth. On the basis of these factors, the treatment could be:

  • Waiting until the mother goes into labor on her own
  • Dilating the cervix and using instruments to deliver the fetus and tissues
  • Induction of labor using medications to open the cervix and make the uterus contract and push out the fetus and tissues
  • Coping With Stillbirth

    The sudden and unexpected loss of the baby can be a devastating experience. The emotional trauma is not only hard to cope with but is also very exhausting physically. While some women try to overcome their feelings by carrying on with their normal activities, in others, the pain may last much longer, with memories haunting them time and again.

    Each woman has her own way of dealing with the grief. However, there are many ways that can help ease distress. Pouring out your feelings to somebody who’s ready to lend a shoulder, finding a support network of families affected by stillbirth, talking to a counselor who can relate to your loss can all be beneficial in helping you cope with the trauma.

     

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