What are the causes of stillbirth?
- Placenta problems e.g in women with high blood pressure this may affect the placenta with reduction in blood and oxygen supply to the baby. In addition, those with high blood pressure is at risk of developing placental abruption. In patients with post date pregnancy may also have reduction in placenta function leading to intra-uterine death.
- Genetic abnormalities or structural abnormalities in the baby
- Infection e.g bacterial or viral infections
- Medical problems in the mother e.g uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, autoimmune disorders
- Cord accidents e.g entanglement of the cord
Who are at risk of having a stillbirth?
- Older women > 35 years old
- Underlying medical condtion
- Drinking alcohol excessively
- Inadequate antenatal care
How is the diagnosis of a stillbirth made?
What will happen if I have an intrauterine death?
What will happen after I deliver my baby?
- If you want, you will be encouraged to hold your baby, take the baby’s hand prints or photograph as it has been shown that this will help during the grieving process.
- Several investigations will be done including taking blood samples from the baby’s heart, cord and placenta. In addition, your doctor may offer you to do a post mortem of your baby (autopsy). A blood sample from you will also be taken to exclude underlying auto-immune or connective tissue disease and infections. These investigations could help in determining the cause of miscarriage and for preventing recurrence of miscarriage in future pregnancies.
- If the underlying cause is due to genetic abnormalities you will be referred to a genetic counselor to advice for future pregnancies.
- Your baby’s birth needs to be registered. However, you may want to arrange a simple burial or cremation service.
- You may leave hospital the next day after delivery if you are well or stay longer a few days if you need more time.
- After delivery, you may experience some vaginal bleeding (lochia) which may last several weeks. In addition, your breast may excrete some milk. Your doctor may prescribe a medication to stop the milk production.
- Medical certificate will be given for you to rest at home to recover and grief. It is important that you get as much support from your family and relatives at this time. You could join a support group or read books on how others who have experience the same things as you have. This may help you in your grieving process.
- After 6 weeks, an appointment will be scheduled with your doctor. A review of the investigations will be done to identify any possible cause and arrangement to be done for future pregnancy.
How do I avoid having another intrauterine death in my future pregnancy?