What Causes Stillbirth?

Pregnancy and Motherhood 2 October 2019 | 0 Comments

Stillbirth is the term for the death of the baby in the womb within twenty weeks of pregnancy, specifically an intrauterine death. Most stillbirths happen before the mother goes into labor, although there are cases where it happens during labor and birth. It can be devastating for a couple especially if it is their first attempt at having a child.

What causes a stillbirth and can it be prevented?

Causes of Stillbirth

To determine the cause of the baby’s death, several methods are recommended. Blood tests are usually given to rule out other possible conditions that may have caused the death, while amniocentesis is recommended if the doctor suspects problems in the chromosomes.

There is no one cause of stillbirth and usually it’s a combination of various factors. If the couple is attempting to have another child, it’s important to determine the cause so that they can take steps to prevent it from happening again.

  • Placental Insufficiency

Some factors in placental insufficiency include placental abruption, blood clots, inflammation, problems in the blood vessels, and umbilical cord problems. It is the most common cause of stillbirths, because the placenta is important in the growth and development of the fetus. If there is a drop in the supply of oxygen and nutrients because of problems in the placenta, the baby becomes smaller than it should be.

  • Mother’s Health

Other factors are usually determined by a mother’s overall health. If she has pre-eclampsia or if she experiences heavy bleeding late in the pregnancy, the risk of a stillbirth becomes higher. The following conditions will also make a woman more susceptible to having a stillbirth:

  • Obesity and/or high blood pressure
  • Use of prohibited drugs, smoking, and alcohol abuse
  • The woman is older than 35 years
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • It is her first pregnancy
  • History of stillbirth, neonatal death, and miscarriage
  • History of pre-eclampsia, premature birth, and other pregnancy complications
  • Untreated sexually-transmitted infections in the mother (which might also have been passed on by the father to the mother)

Delivery of a Stillborn

If the mother notices that the movement in her womb has ceased, she needs to visit the hospital right away to get the appropriate tests. If the procedures confirm that the heart of the baby has stopped beating, it means that it died and must be delivered to save the mother from infection and blood clotting.

Induced labor and other methods are recommended to remove the baby, but it will depend on the dilation of the cervix and the length of the pregnancy. If it’s in the second trimester, for example, the doctor will use the dilation and evacuation method. Others usually have no problems delivering vaginally after contractions in the uterine are stimulated.

Finally, to determine what caused the stillbirth, several tests are recommended, such as an autopsy, amniocentesis, genetic test, and tests for infections. Fortunately, the couple can still attempt to have a baby even after a stillbirth.

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