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When a baby dies during pregnancy - how will I know?

When a baby dies during pregnancy - how will I know?


How will I know?

Choices for birth

Natural therapies and Inductions

Pain relief

Support

It is a thought many of us never dare to whisper, a thought that may have crossed your mind, preoccupied it or never entered it. For some it is a nagging fear, tinged with guilt for having negative feelings. For others it is an issue best avoided, territory feared to visit. The shock of discovering that your baby is no longer breathing, moving, alive within is devastating beyond words.

"Why does this happen?" is the unrelenting question. When a baby dies during pregnancy, there are often known medical reasons, placental problems, high blood pressure, diabetes or an abnormality of the baby. Sometimes however, the causes are unknown, leaving parents bewildered wondering what went so horribly wrong or "How could this happen to me?"

Usually caregivers also search for answers, going over every medical detail meticulously. Looking for causes, some being found, some just speculation, others finding no answers. About 8 babies in every 1000 pregnancies over 20 weeks will die in Australia each year. Some of these will die before labour and birth. The medical terms for this are intrauterine death (IUD) or death in utero (DIU).

If you have just discovered that your unborn baby is no longer alive, we extend to you our heartfelt sympathy. We understand that your journey from here will not be easy. If you are wondering about how you will deal with the actual birth of your baby you may also wish to read stillborn baby or death of a newborn.

How will I know?

Some women notice that their baby has become very quiet and has not moved for a while. Others experience an intuitive sense of danger, or death. Some women have a sense of something 'being not quite right', and are then told by their caregiver at a check up that there 'may be a problem'.

If you feel something is wrong, or you notice that the baby is not moving, contact your hospital or caregiver. Arrange to go and see them as soon as possible, so they can check for the baby's heartbeat. Try not to go alone. If you don't have a partner, or your partner is unable to be with you, then ask a relative or friend whom you feel safe with, and trust.

Normally a hand held Doppler, or CTG machine, is used to try and find the baby's heartbeat. This gives an audible readout so you can hear any sounds. Your caregiver will probably try for some time to locate the baby's heartbeat, in case the baby is in an awkward position. Sometimes they will ask another caregiver to 'double check'. If no heartbeat can be found then an ultrasound will follow to confirm if the baby has died.


Last revised: Saturday, 17 November 2012

This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.

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