In this article, we’re going to talk about stillbirth causes and prevention. Every parent should know about this topic, to avoid any unwanted accident in the future. We’re going to cover from the basic, what is still birth, what causes it, and how to prevent it. We hope that everyone could understand about stillbirth causes and prevention. So, you will have a clear mind in anticipating your baby into your life.
What is Stillbirth?
Stillbirth is the word to describe losing your baby between 20th week of pregnancy and birth. If losing a baby happens before the 20th week, is called a miscarriage. Stillbirth is divided into three categories, depending on the timing on losing the baby:
- 20 to 27 weeks: early stillbirth.
- 28 to 36 weeks: late stillbirth.
- After 37 weeks: term stillbirth.
Stillbirth shouldn’t be underestimated, even though it’s not often for a pregnant woman to experience, it still can happen to anyone. In the United States alone, there are around 24.000 stillbirth cases in one year. Preventing it from happening to you and save your baby’s life should be your top priority. Next part we’re going to talk about what causes stillbirth.
Causes of Stillbirths
Knowing is the first step of preventing stillbirth from happening. It’s time to do your part to keep your baby safe and minimize any kinds of risks.
Placenta provides the baby with oxygen and all the essential nutrients the baby can get. If anything interferes with how the placenta works, the baby will be put at risk. Placenta problems can cause poor blood flow, inflammation, and infection. There is another problem called placental abruption, it’s when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before birth. Placenta problems are the ones responsible for up to a quarter of all stillbirths.
Any kinds of infections that happen to the mother, baby, or placenta can lead to stillbirth. Infection is a common cause of stillbirth before the 24th week of the pregnancy.
Infections that can develop include:
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV).
- Fifth disease.
- Genital herpes.
The Mother’s overall health is crucial to make sure that the baby is healthy and the labor is successful. Two health conditions that are most common nearing the end of the second trimester and the beginning of the third are preeclampsia and chronic high blood pressure. There are also other health conditions worth knowing, such as:
- Thyroid disorders.
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, around 1 in every 10 stillbirths can be caused by birth defects. Genetic or birth defects can occur during the conception. Other defects may be caused by environmental factors, but the exact cause is often unknown. Serious birth defects or multiple birth defects can reduce the chance for the baby to survive to zero. Some birth defects and other conditions such as:
- Fetal growth restriction.
- Genetic conditions.
- Rh incompatibility.
- Structural defects.
Umbilical Cord Problems
Problems related to umbilical cord is more often that you think. If the umbilical cord becomes knotted up or squeezed, the baby won’t get enough oxygen. Umbilical cord problems may be the cause of stillbirth especially during late pregnancy.
Pregnancy and Labor Complications
As you know there are plenty of other problems during pregnancy and labor that could happen, and quite often unexpectedly. Certain circumstances can make things riskier for the baby before birth, especially before the 24th week, some factors to look out for:
- Preterm labor, likely caused by complications in the pregnancy.
- Pregnancy lasting more than 42 weeks.
- Carrying multiples.
- Accident or injury during pregnancy.
Keeping the mother’s overall health in good condition is the best thing to do.
More about stillbirth causes and prevention, let’s talk about preventing it. But first, let’s make it clear that not all stillbirths can be prevented, but there are some things you should know and do to reduce the risks.
Watch Your Weight
Obesity increases the risk of stillbirth. You should watch your weight to be well below the obesity limit, to make sure that your baby’s wellbeing is taken care of. By reaching a healthy weight, you cut the risks of stillbirth that are related to weight problems.
To fight obesity, there are some pointers for you:
- Eat healthy – watch your diet, you can try with more vegetables and fruits. Overall health is always related with stillbirth causes and prevention.
- Avoid certain food – there are some types of food that you should avoid during pregnancy. Some types of fish and cheese need to be avoided, and make sure all meat and poultry are completely cooked before being consumed.
- Be more active – you can try walking and swimming, those activities are good for all pregnant women. Consult with your doctor to start a new exercise program, if you’re not used to it.
Monitor Your Baby’s Movements
During week 16th and 20th, you will feel some movements inside your belly. These movements may be a kick, flutter, swish or roll. You will continue these movements from pregnancy and up to during labor. If you start noticing that your baby is moving less than usual, there is a change in the pattern of movements, and this could be the first sign that there is something wrong with your baby. Contact your doctor or local maternity unit immediately, to get better understanding of your baby’s condition.
Keep in mind that there is no specific number of movements that’s considered to be normal. So, don’t get too panic when you notice something’s different. Focus on keeping track of your baby’s movements and notify your doctor or local maternity unit when you’re in doubt.
Summary and Some Other Things to Remember
To understand stillbirth causes and prevention, there are plenty of things to remember. These are those things that you shouldn’t forget:
- Don’t smoke – it should be obvious why smoking is bad for you and the baby.
- Don’t drink alcohol and don’t do drugs – alcohol and drugs can increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth and also hinder the baby’s development during the pregnancy.
- Attend all your antenatal appointments, so that you can monitor the growth and wellbeing of the baby.
- Stay healthy and watch your weight.
- Report any tummy pain or vaginal bleeding to your midwife immediately. This includes any itching.
- When you’re sleeping, try to sleep on your side, not on your back. Research suggests that sleeping on your back after 28th week of pregnancy may double the risk of stillbirth. It’s related to blood flow and oxygen to the baby. Sleeping on your side is much safer, either left or right.
We hope that now you understand better about stillbirth causes and prevention and your baby will be healthy and happy.