Understanding Stillbirth -- Prevention

How Can I Prevent a Stillbirth?

Many stillbirths happen without warning in women without any risk factors. But women at risk for stillbirths -- such as those with diabetes or high blood pressure -- should be watched closely. The baby will usually be checked during the last weeks of pregnancy. If this exam shows something out of the ordinary, early delivery may prevent a stillbirth. Sometimes, there may be a need for an emergency C-section.

All pregnant women should keep track of the baby's movements several times every day, regardless of other risk factors. This is especially important after the 26th week. If the baby kicks or moves less often, see a doctor right away or go to the hospital.

After a stillbirth, you may want to wait some time before getting pregnant again. Some women who get pregnant in the first 12 months after a stillbirth have high levels of anxiety and depression, both during the pregnancy and up to a year after the birth of a healthy baby.

Depending on the cause of the stillbirth, you may be a "high risk" pregnancy the next time you get pregnant. Seeing a high-risk obstetrician or maternal-fetal medicine specialist may help make the next pregnancy safe and healthy.

Your chances of having a healthy baby are better if you take good care of your health before you get pregnant and you get early, regular, prenatal care. Your doctor will check for infections, review your medical history, and make sure you are treated for any problems.

These steps can help you have a healthy pregnancy:

  • Exercise, eat well, and take 400-800 micrograms of folic acid daily, starting at least one to two months before getting pregnant.
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking.
  • Take only medications prescribed by your doctor. Never stop any medication without first discussing it with your doctor.
  • Drive carefully and wear a seatbelt.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Avoid food poisoning and other infections. Stay away from ready-to-eat foods such as deli meats and fast foods. If you must eat these foods, be sure they're heated thoroughly. Don't eat soft unpasteurized cheeses, raw foods, or undercooked meats.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH on June 23, 2016

Sources

SOURCES: 

National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. 

The March of Dimes. 

National Institute of Child Health and Development: "Stillbirth."

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