If a woman loses a pregnancy after she's past her 20th week, it's called a stillbirth. Stillbirths are due to natural causes. They can happen before delivery or during delivery. Causes include:
- Problems with the placenta, the organ that transports oxygen and nutrients to the fetus
- Genetic problems with the fetus
- Fetal infections
- Other physical problems in the fetus
In at least half of all cases, it is not possible to tell why the baby died.
If stillbirth happens before delivery, your health care provider may induce labor or perform a Cesarean section to deliver the fetus. In some cases, you can wait until you go into labor yourself. This usually happens within two weeks of stillbirth.
Counseling may help you cope with your grief. Later, if you do decide to try again, work closely with your health care provider to lower the risks. Many women who have a stillbirth go on to have healthy babies.
NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- Common Causes of Stillbirth (First Candle/SIDS Alliance)
- Dealing with Your Grief (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation)
- Pregnancy Loss (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health)
- Stillbirth (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation)
- Stillbirth FAQ (First Candle/SIDS Alliance)
- Stillbirth, Miscarriage, and Infant Death (Compassionate Friends) Available in Spanish
Diagnosis and Tests
- Ultrasound (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation)
- Neonatal Death (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation)
Statistics and Research
- Challenge of Fetal Mortality (National Center for Health Statistics)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
Find an Expert
- March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation Available in Spanish
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Available in Spanish