A baby who is born dead or after the twenty fourth week of pregnancy is defined as a stillborn baby. The baby may have encountered an inter-uterine death or the worst might have happened at the time of labour or birth. However, it is hard to prevent still births from happening since most of them are classified by the medical world as “unexplained”. But there are a few symptoms which should be taken care of and brought under the doctor’s notice immediately. The earliest sign is decreased baby movements. If such a sudden cessation of foetal movement is followed by vaginal bleeding, you need immediate medical care. Abdominal cramps and early contractions are also found as symptoms in some cases.
However, there are a few general aspects common to all still births. In most cases, the baby will have certain genetic or physical defects like improper development of certain organs. Ante- partum haemorrhage is another cause. This occurs when placenta get removed from the uterus lining much before the time of delivery. If the baby is too pre-mature, it might not be strong enough to survive the trauma of delivery. Rhesus incompatibility is stated as yet another reason. This happens when the antibodies in the mother’s blood attacks the blood cells of her baby.
The risk of having still born is about fifteen per cent greater for women with obstetric cholestasis. This is a comparatively rare pregnancy complication in which bile acids in the blood stream build up. Infections such as salmonella and listeriosis along with immunological disorders like anti-phospholipid syndrome can also lead to the death of the foetus. Still birth can occur during the time of labour as in the case of shoulder dystocia when the baby’s shoulder gets struck after its head has been delivered. In case of breech deliveries, the risk factor is higher when compared to the normal baby posture. Irregularity of umbilical cords can also cause problems by reducing the oxygen supply to the baby during delivery.