Stillbirth - Topic Overview
Is this topic for you?
This topic has information
about the loss of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy but before the baby is
born. For information about pregnancy loss before 20 weeks, see the topic
What is stillbirth?
Stillbirth is the loss of a
baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy but before the baby is born. It can happen
during the pregnancy or during labor. Stillbirth occurs in about 1 out of 200
The loss of a baby is
devastating and very hard to accept. You may wonder why it happened or blame
yourself. But a stillbirth can happen even in a pregnancy that has been going
When stillbirth occurs before labor, a doctor usually delivers the
baby either by giving the woman medicine to start labor or by doing surgery
(cesarean section, or C-section).
What causes stillbirth?
In many cases, no one
knows what causes stillbirth. But a cause often is found. A stillbirth may be
What kind of support will you need?
through grief in their own ways. You may cry a lot and feel angry and hopeless.
You may want to blame yourself or someone else. It might be hard to eat or
You and your partner may not grieve in the same way. Each
of you needs to take care of yourself in whatever way feels best. Tell your
family and friends what they can do. You may want to spend time alone, or you
may seek the comfort of family and friends. Try to eat healthy foods, get some
sleep, and get exercise (or just get out of the house) to help you feel strong
as you heal.
Talk to your doctor about how you are coping. He or
she will want to watch you for signs of
depression. You may want to have counseling for
support and to help you express your feelings.
It may help to
create a memory book of your pregnancy and baby. Many parents name their baby
and want to take pictures and keep a lock of hair. The hospital may take
photographs or footprints for you. Some parents have a ceremony, such as a
christening or other blessing or a funeral service.
You also may
want to talk to others who have gone through this loss. You can make
connections online or in person:
- The Compassionate
Friends is a resource for people who have lost a child. The group can help put
you in touch with one of its support groups in your area. The website is
- Share (Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Support, Inc.) also can offer advice and connections to others who have lost a
child. The group’s website is www.nationalshare.org.
- The International
Stillbirth Alliance also offers support and resources. Its website is
Can stillbirth be prevented?