Pregnancy is a wonderfully emotional time. The journey from “we two” to “us three” is an overwhelming one. But one should be mentally prepared for any pregnancy complications too because along with the overwhelming emotions, it can throw many curveballs at the parents-to-be and stillbirth is just one of them.
Stillbirth or fetal death is one of the most traumatic life events and should be dealt with utmost care. A fetus is declared as a stillbirth when he/she is delivered with no significant signs of life like the absence of breathing, pulsation of the umbilical cord, heartbeats, or movements. The good news is that stillbirths are rare but again, on the other hand, the not-so-good news is that there are usually no warning signals for it. Therefore, be a responsible mother and consult with your gynecologist if you feel a change or any abnormalities in your pregnancy and your baby’s movements.
What are the risk factors for stillbirth?
Learning about the risk factors doesn’t mean that you are delivering a stillbirth baby, but it may help prevent stillbirth from happening. Some risk factors cannot be changed, but there are other risk factors that you can do something about, let’s give it a look:
•High blood pressure
Pregnancy conditions and history
•Pregnant with twins, triplets or more
•History of miscarriage or stillbirth in your previous pregnancy
•Pregnancy after 35
•Unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, etc.
•Overexposure to car exhaust, gasoline, and fumes from factories and chemicals
•Poor financial status
How do you know if your baby is stillborn?
Like any other health conditions, look for the signs and symptoms for it. The first and the foremost symptom of stillbirth one experiences is the lack of baby moving and kicking. Others symptoms are abdominal cramps, pain or unusual bleeding from the vagina. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above then you don’t need to wait for the top gynecologist, look for a gynecologist near you to check that your baby is healthy. The doctor may suggest an ultrasound and a non stress test (NST) to see the baby’s heartbeat and movement.
How is stillbirth managed or delivered?
Once your healthcare specialist confirms that your baby is stillborn, he/she will discuss with you the options for giving birth. Unless there is a medical condition, there is no need to deliver right away. The safest way is to wait until you go into labor on your own (labor pain starts two weeks after a baby).
If there is a medical condition, your healthcare provider may recommend:
It is also known as a c-section. This is a surgical procedure where the doctor makes an incision in the belly and uterus to remove the fetus.
To prevent any dangerous blood clots, the doctor may induce labor artificially to deliver the fetus. This option is especially opted when natural labor doesn’t happen by two weeks after the baby’s death.
Also, some mothers go with this option soon after they learn of their baby’s death.
•Dilation and evacuation
It is also called D&E. As the name suggests, it is a surgical procedure where your doctor opens the cervix by dilating it to remove the tissue lining the uterus.
Can you find out the causes of stillbirth?
Yes! After delivering the fetus, the doctor examines the fetus’s body to find out the causes of stillbirth. A pathologist will perform an autopsy (which includes many other tests) to help you find out the reason for it so that you have a healthy pregnancy in future. Other test includes amniocentesis which is used for any infection in the fetus which may have caused the stillbirth.
Stillbirth is an emotionally wrenching experience where recovering physically and emotionally is quite overwhelming. Therefore, if you think it’s too hard to handle, please do not give up. Take help from a qualified counselor, or psychiatrist to get through this challenging time.