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Stillbirth - Topic Overview

What kind of support will you need? continued...

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 www.compassionatefriends.org.
  • 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 www.stillbirthalliance.org.

Can stillbirth be prevented?

If you have lost a baby, you may worry about a future pregnancy. But a stillbirth often happens because of a one-time event. It doesn't mean that you won't go on to have a healthy baby.

Doctors often can do exams and tests to find out why a stillbirth happened. They may examine the baby and the placenta. An autopsy is sometimes done, if the parents want it, to find the cause of death. Some parents find that this helps them by answering their questions about what happened. And it may help find out if there is any risk for a future pregnancy. A doctor also may test the parents to see if a genetic problem may have led to the stillbirth.

You can't prevent every problem. But some behaviors can increase the chance of a healthy baby. Doctors encourage women to take care of themselves before they get pregnant and during pregnancy. Eat a healthy diet that includes folic acid (especially before you are pregnant and early in the pregnancy), and get regular exercise. It's especially important to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

Later in pregnancy, a doctor usually will ask a woman to keep track of her baby's kicks and call right away if the baby is moving less than before.

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