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Stillbirth

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Reviewed/Revised May 2023
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What is a stillbirth?

What causes a stillbirth?

Not all stillbirths are caused by the same problem. Doctors do tests to figure out the cause of a stillbirth. Often, they don’t find any cause. Sometimes they find a problem with the placenta (the organ that feeds the fetus), the fetus, or your body.

Problems with the placenta

Problems with the fetus

  • Abnormal genes or chromosomes

  • A birth defect

  • An infection

Problems with your body

What are the symptoms of a stillbirth?

Often, after the fetus dies, you go into labor. During labor, your doctor will see that the fetus has died.

Sometimes the fetus dies but you don't go into labor. You may have no symptoms for a while. Other times there are obvious symptoms:

  • Not feeling the fetus move or kick

  • Bleeding from your vagina

  • Cramps

How can doctors tell if I have a stillbirth?

Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of a stillbirth. The doctor will do tests to check the fetus's health, such as an ultrasound Ultrasonography Ultrasonography is a safe imaging test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the insides of your body. Ultrasonography doesn't use radiation (x-rays). Ultrasonography is also called... read more Ultrasonography (moving pictures of the inside of your uterus).

What do doctors do if I have a stillbirth?

If you've delivered the fetus and the placenta, you won't need any treatment.

If the fetus or the placenta are still in your body, they need to come out. Your doctor might:

  • Use a medicine that can start labor

  • Remove the fetus and the placenta using surgical instruments put into your uterus (womb) through your vagina (birth canal)

If doctors need to do a surgical procedure, they will give you anesthesia (medicine to put you to sleep).

It's normal to feel grief, anger, and guilt after a stillbirth.

  • Consider talking with another person if you feel sad and are grieving your loss

  • If you’re worried about having another stillbirth, talk to a doctor who can discuss possible tests if needed

  • Remember that many women who have a stillbirth get pregnant again and give birth to healthy babies

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
GOPRELTO, NUMBRINO
NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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