What is Stillbirth?

When a baby dies inside the mommy’s tummy, it’s called “intrauterine fetal demise” or “stillbirth.” This happens after the 20th week of pregnancy. If the baby dies earlier, it’s called a miscarriage.

When a baby is stillborn, the parents get both a birth certificate and a death certificate. But if the baby is lost earlier, they might not get these certificates.

To some people, the difference between a stillbirth and a miscarriage might not seem very important. But no matter what you call it, losing a baby is very sad and hard for the parents.

Incidence of Stillbirth

In many countries, about 1 out of 100 pregnancies end with the baby dying before birth. This is called fetal death or stillbirth, and it happens roughly 24,000 times a year. Stillbirths can occur either early in the pregnancy (between 20 to 27 weeks) or later (28 weeks or more), and both are almost equally common.

Different countries have different rules about when they consider a baby to be stillborn. It depends on how far along the pregnancy is and how much the baby weighs. For example, in some places, a baby must be at least 16 weeks old or weigh at least 400 grams for it to be considered a stillbirth.

It’s important to know that stillbirths are more common in some countries, especially in poorer nations. This means that many more babies are stillborn in those places compared to wealthier countries. Shockingly, about half of all stillbirths happen during the birth process itself, which is the riskiest time.

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In about one out of every four stillbirths, doctors can’t find a clear reason why it happened. However, when there is a known cause, some of the most common ones include:

– Congenital birth defects: These are problems with the baby’s development that are present at birth.

– Genetic abnormalities: Changes or mutations in the baby’s genes can sometimes lead to stillbirth.

– Placental problems: Issues with the placenta, like placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterus) or vasa previa (when fetal blood vessels cross the cervix), can cause stillbirth.

– Placental dysfunction: When the placenta doesn’t work properly, it can lead to problems with the baby’s growth.

– Umbilical cord complications: Problems with the umbilical cord, like it being wrapped around the baby’s neck or being compressed, can cause stillbirth.

– Uterine rupture: In rare cases, the uterus can tear during pregnancy or labor, leading to stillbirth.

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Risk Factors

There are several things that can make a woman more likely to have a stillbirth. Some of these factors you can control, while others you can’t.

  1. Mother’s Health: Your overall health plays a big role in your ability to carry a baby to term. Conditions like hypertension, diabetes, lupus, kidney disease, thyroid disorders, and thrombophilia can increase the risk of stillbirth. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and being overweight can also make it more likely.
  2. Race: sometimes people from different backgrounds have different chances of stillbirth. For example, some groups might have more difficulty getting good healthcare, which can make stillbirth more likely. Also, there may be things in our genes that make this chance higher for some people.
  3. Age: While advances in healthcare have reduced the impact of age on stillbirth risk, women over 35 still have a higher chance of unexplained stillbirth compared to younger women.
  4. Multiple Pregnancy: Carrying more than one baby increases the risk of stillbirth. For women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), doctors often recommend transferring only one embryo per cycle to reduce this risk.
  5. Exposure to Violence: Domestic violence can affect women from all backgrounds. In communities with high rates of unemployment, drug use, and incarceration, the risk of stillbirth can be even greater.
  6. History of Problems: If you’ve had pregnancy problems in the past, like fetal growth restriction or preterm delivery, you’re more likely to have a stillbirth in a future pregnancy. Women who have had a previous stillbirth are also at higher risk of experiencing another one.

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Experience of still birth

If a stillbirth happens, it means the baby has passed away before being born. One common sign is when the mom stops feeling the baby move inside her tummy. When the doctor confirms this sad news, the mom usually has two choices:

  1. Inducing labor: This means taking medicine to start labor within a few days.
  2. Waiting for labor: The mom can wait for labor to start on its own within a week or two.

Going through a stillbirth can bring up many different feelings. It’s important not to keep these emotions inside. Talking to friends, family, and the doctor about how you’re feeling can really help. If it’s really hard to cope, it’s okay to ask for help from a counselor or mental health professional. The doctor can help find someone to talk to.

Remember, dealing with a stillbirth takes time. Be patient with yourself and don’t shut yourself off from others. Things will start to feel better with time.

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About Twins stillbirth Experience:

When both babies in the womb pass away before they are born, it’s called twin stillbirth. This can be a very difficult and emotional experience for you as the parent.

If you notice that you aren’t feeling your babies moving anymore, it’s important to let your doctor know right away. They can check to see what’s happening and offer support.

Sometimes, one baby may survive while the other doesn’t. This can bring mixed emotions – sadness for the baby you lost and gratitude for the one still with you.

FAQs about stillbirth

Q. What are the signs and symptoms of stillbirth?

– Signs of stillbirth include when the baby in the tummy doesn’t move for a long time, or when the doctor can’t find the baby’s heartbeat. Sometimes, there may be bleeding or fluid leaking from the vagina. If you notice these signs, tell your doctor right away.

Q. How is stillbirth diagnosed?

– Stillbirth is usually found through tests like ultrasound and monitoring the baby’s heartbeat. If the doctor is worried, they might do an ultrasound to check on the baby. They might also use a special machine to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. If they can’t find a heartbeat or movement, they might do more tests to be sure.

Q. What happens after a stillbirth is diagnosed?

– After finding out about a stillbirth, the doctor will talk to you about delivering the baby. Depending on how far along the pregnancy is and other things, they might give you medicine to start labor or do surgery to deliver the baby. They’ll also help you deal with your feelings and offer support.

Q. What should I expect during the labor and delivery process if a stillbirth occurs?

– If a stillbirth happens, the labor and delivery process is similar to when a baby is born alive. You might get medicine to start labor or have surgery to deliver the baby. The doctors and nurses will be there to help you and support you through everything. After the baby is born, you’ll have time to be with them and say goodbye in your own way.

Understanding why this happened can be complex. It might be due to problems with how the babies were getting nutrients from you or issues with their umbilical cords.

It’s okay to feel sad, confused, or overwhelmed. Talking to your doctor, family, or friends can provide comfort and support. You might also find it helpful to speak with a counselor who can help you navigate through your feelings during this difficult time.

Remember to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Healing takes time, and it’s okay to grieve the loss of your baby while also cherishing the presence of the one who remains with you.

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