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WHAT IS STILLBIRTH? Stillbirth is the death of a baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy but before birth. Many babies who are stillborn are premature and smaller than they should be for their stage of pregnancy and as women grow older, the risk of having a stillborn baby increases.
Some babies die in the womb before they are born especially during the last stage of pregnancy, this is known as INTRA-UTERINE FETAL DEATH while some babies die during labour and birth, this is known as INTRAPARTUM DEATH although this case is rare.
CAUSES OF STILL BIRTH
- Placental insufficiency: this is when the placenta develops a problem hence, the blood vessels that connect a mum to her baby becomes constricted leading to a drop in nutrients and oxygen to a baby, causing growth problems. The pregnancy illness pre-eclampsia can also reduce blood flow to the baby via the placenta.
- Placental abruption: this is when the placenta begins to separate from the womb causing heavy bleeding this can occur during late pregnancy or labour.
- Birth defects such as chromosomal or structural defects: in which the baby’s essential organs such as brain or heart has not developed properly.
- Poblems with Umbilical cord whereby it forms a knot and cuts off oxygen to the growing baby or slip through the cervix before the baby or become wrapped around a baby’s neck.
- Medical conditions in the mum such as diabetes, lupus, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, thrombophilia, kidney failure or infections, such as flu, group B streptococcus, listeriosis, syphillis, fifth disease, toxoplasmosis, etc.
- Others include accident, difficult delivery or trauma during pregnancy, preterm labor and birth, pregnancy induced hypertension, obese mothers, mothers with a history of smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, pregnancy with twins or multiples, pregnancy due to IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), Late pregnancy (in mothers aged 40 and above).
HOW TO PREVENT STILLBIRTHS
Although not all stillbirths can be prevented but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk such as:
- Avoid smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Maintain healthy lifestyle and diet
- Avoid taking alcohol and drugs during pregnancy
- Attend ALL your antenatal appointments.
- Monitoring your baby’s movements and report any change in the pattern of movement to your doctor immediately.
- Report any abdominal pain, itching or vaginal bleeding to your doctor immediately.