6 Preventive Measures To Avoid Stillbirth


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Losing a baby while still in the womb is one of the most traumatic experiences for any woman. The shock and grief upon learning about the baby being dead inside the womb is definitely a severe blow. Trying to tune the mind and moving on to a next hopeful conception is even harder.

While most women cope with the distress and recover to try again, few tend to give up the idea of pregnancy forever.

There are number of reasons for stillbirth or loss of baby inside the womb. It is important to understand what causes stillbirth to happen and what can be done to ensure a healthy pregnancy later.

Difference Between Still Birth And Miscarriage:

Most women tend to mix up the two terms, sometimes assuming that both still birth and miscarriage are one and the same.

  • When the baby inside the uterus dies after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it is termed as still birth.
  • Miscarriage can happen any time before the 20th week.

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Causes Of Stillbirth:

There could be many underlying causes and risk factors of a stillbirth. Some of the main causes are listed below:

  • Family history of still births
  • Previous history of still birth
  • Accident
  • Poor fetal growth pattern inside uterus
  • Sudden abruption of placenta from uterus, cutting off the oxygen supply to the baby
  • Infections transmitted from mother to baby such as listeriosis, syphilis, fifth disease, etc.
  • Knot in the umbilical cord cutting off oxygen to the growing baby
  • Difficult delivery or a trauma during pregnancy
  • Birth defects in the form of chromosomal defects, structural defects, etc.
  • Intrauterine growth retardation in earlier pregnancies
  • Preterm labor and birth
  • Pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Preeclampsia during current or previous pregnancies
  • Chronic medical conditions of the mother, such as lupus, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, thrombophilia, diabetes, kidney failure, etc.
  • Obese mothers
  • Mothers with a history of smoking, alcohol and drug abuse
  • Carrying twins or multiples
  • Pregnancy due to IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)
  • Late pregnancy (in mothers aged 40 and above)

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Diagnosis Of Stillbirth:

Stillbirth in a pregnancy is usually diagnosed after completing week 20.

  • The doctor will check for the baby’s heart beat using a Doppler.
  • If there is no sign of pulse, an ultrasound is further done exhaustively to check the status of the same.
  • Sonogram usually confirms if the baby’s heartbeat has stopped.
  • The gynecologist will also perform other tests such as amniocentesis to understand any chromosomal defects that would have caused the still birth.

[ Read: How tp use Doppler Fetal Monitor At Home ]

Delivery Of A StillBorn:

As painful as that sounds, a stillborn baby is delivered immediately after the confirmation that it has died. The delivery process is completed in either of the below ways:

1. Vaginal:

Labor is induced to deliver the still born out like in the normal delivery using local or general anesthesia. In case the pregnant woman’s cervix is not dilated enough, IV fluids are given to infuse oxytocin hormone that triggers contractions and labor. This causes a vaginal delivery, pushing out the stillborn baby.

[ Read: How To Induce Labour ]

2. Dilation And Evacuation (D&E):

A D&E is performed more because of a personal choice to get detached from the feeling of being pregnant. Most pregnant women request their doctors to perform dilation and evacuation, an invasive procedure that involves fast expulsion of the still born. This is done quickly and efficiently and has no side effects or complications.