Stillbirth - why it happens & some other useful information

Stillbirth - why it happens & some other useful information

By: Hermita
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Stillbirth - why it happens & some other useful information


Stillbirth still is one of those taboo topics people rarely want to open up about. In this blog post, I want to share some useful information related to this tragedy - why it happens, how common it is, and what you can do to potentially prevent it. 

The definition of stillbirth says that it is the death of the baby in the womb - the baby has to be over 20 weeks old in pregnancy. Early stillbirth represents the death of a baby in the womb between 20 and 27 weeks. Late stillbirth is from 28 to 36 weeks, while term stillbirth is from 37th week of pregnancy. 

What people who haven't been through this experience usually don't know about stillbirth is that it almost all of the times happens in the uterus. A lot of people think that a stillbirth means that baby's heartbeat is gone once they are born, which is false. 

And while stillbirth experience may be similar to miscarriage (when the baby is gone before 20th week of pregnancy), parents claim that this experience is a lot harder. Of course, as I've mentioned, we don't like to measure anyone burden, but what parents who have experienced stillbirth want others to know is that this is not a miscarriages'. 


How common is stillbirth? Statistics show that in developing countries it happens approximately in 22 of 1000 pregnancies. In the developed ones stillbirth happens around 6 times in 1,000 pregnancies. This leads us to another important fact everyone should know about - yes, stillbirth can happen due to bad socioeconomic status. 

What are the risks for a stillbirth?

It is said that these are the most common factors that can higher your chances of experiencing a stillbirth - 


1. Age. And not only for pregnancies above 35, but also for teenage pregnancies'

2. Health conditions. Diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid issues, and obesity can also higher the chances of not having a healthy baby.

3. Multiple babies. If you're carrying twins or multiples, you are in the higher risk for a stillbirth.

4. How did your previous pregnancies look like? For women who have already experienced a stillbirth, there are higher chances of experiencing it the second time around. I know that this is very hard to hear and may be even an issue which would stop you from trying for another baby. I would advise finding professional support throughout the next pregnancy - you have to find someone you can trust and someone who will be there in the hard moments. It would be amazing if you can find such a doctor. 

Another factor that can increase the chances for a still birth is previous premature birth/labor. 

5. Substance use. Drugs, alcohol, and smoking can increase the risk for a stillbirth.

6. Limited access to prenatal care. As we have mentioned above already, developing countries have more stillbirths. If you have limited access to prenatal care, your risks are definitely higher. This is especially true because a lot of stillbirths can happen due to the problems with placenta which can be seen earlier and prevent the tragedy. If your baby isn't growing properly and developing in the womb, your doctor will suggest earlier birth and this way prevent stillbirth. 

7. Stress. As always, stress in pregnancy can cause a lot of issues with the baby, such as preterm birth or even stillbirth. 

Even the best doctors and professionals claim that they cannot find a reason for a stillbirth in 1 of 3 stillbirths. Yet, there may be some symptoms you should watch out for. 

For example, infections, together with the problems with the umbilical cord can be diagnosed, treated, and therefore prevent stillbirth from happening. This is exactly why it is so important that you have a proper prenatal care and monitoring. 

Unfortunately, it is the best to monitor your pregnancy than to watch out for the signs which can show stillbirth. Usually, the only sign can be that your baby isn't active in the womb. Of course, if it is not as active as usual, it doesn't immediately have to mean that it is happening due to stillbirth. 

Remember that you can do everything right in your pregnancy and still experience a stillbirth. What I want to say here is that it is important to remember that it is not your fault. There is no right or wrong way to respond to a stillbirth. 

If you have experienced stillbirth and wondering when is the right time to get pregnant again, know that it should be up to you and your feelings. Some experts suggest that it would be better to wait for a year before having an another pregnancy - this can help lower the anxiety and depression in the next pregnancy. 

If you're feeling a lot of guilt, please know that you can find help and comfort in our guide. 

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