Stillbirth is when a baby dies after completing 24 weeks of pregnancy. It happens around 13.9 times in 1000 births in India as of 2019, but in 2011, it was about 22 in every 1000 births. If a baby dies before 24 weeks, it’s a miscarriage or late fetal loss.
Contact your doctor straightaway when you are pregnant and worried about the baby. For example, if you notice your baby moves less than usual, kindly don’t wait till the next day. When your baby in the womb moves less, it can signal something wrong and need immediate consultation.
Many stillbirths are due to complications with the placenta, an organ that links the mother’s blood supply to the baby’s and helps to nourish the baby in the womb. Other causes:
- Hemorrhage (bleeding during or before pregnancy)
- Issues with umbilical cord
- Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy
- Genetical physical effect on the baby
- Existing diabetes
- Infections in the mother (like Q fever, malaria, and more)
The risks can increase if:
- You are having twins or multiple pregnancies
- A baby doesn’t grow in the womb as it should
- Being over the age of 35
- Drinking, smoking, or taking drugs during pregnancy
- Pre-existing health condition
Preventing all stillbirths is not possible, but there are certain things you can do to limit or reduce the risks, like:
- Don’t smoke
- Avoid taking drugs and alcohol during pregnancy
- Don’t sleep on your back after 28 weeks of pregnancy
- Make sure you attend all your antenatal appointments so the midwives can monitor the well-being of your baby
- Limit or stop consuming caffeine during pregnancy
Make sure you discuss the topic with your doctor; they are more likely to provide personal preventive steps after diagnosing you.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022