What causes stillbirth?

Often, there’s no known reason for a stillbirth. In about half of all cases, the specific cause for a stillbirth is unknown.

  • One of the most important known causes is birth defect, with or without a chromosomal abnormality.
  • Umbilical cord problems also cause stillbirths. In a prolapsed umbilical cord, the cord comes out of the vagina before the baby, blocking the oxygen supply before the baby can breathe on its own.
  • Problems with the placenta, which nourishes the baby, can sometimes lead to a stillbirth. In a placental abruption, the placenta separates too soon from the uterine wall.
  • A mother’s medical condition that existed before or developed during the pregnancy can lead to stillbirth. Women are at increased risk if they have type 1 diabetes or untreated diabetes before or during pregnancy. 
  • High blood pressure - particularly pregnancy-induced high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia - is another major cause of stillbirth.
  • Sometimes the foetus may grow too slowly. This condition, called intrauterine growth restriction or IUGR, puts the foetus at risk of dying from lack of nutrition.
  • Other causes of stillbirth include the use of street drugs, severe nutritional deficiencies, infection during pregnancy, and exposure to environmental agents such as pesticides or carbon monoxide.

Reducing the risk of stillbirth 


Not all stillbirths can be prevented. However, there are some things
you can do to reduce your risk


These include:

  • stopping smoking
  • avoiding alcohol and drugs during pregnancy –

    these can seriously affect your baby's development, as well as increasing the

    risk of miscarriage and stillbirth

  • attending all your antenatal appointments so that midwives

    can monitor the growth and wellbeing of your baby

  • ensuring you are a healthy weight before trying to get pregnant

  • protecting yourself against infections and avoiding

    certain foods

  • reporting any tummy pain or vaginal bleeding that you have to your midwife

    on the same day

  • monitoring your baby's movements and reporting any concerns you have to your

    midwife straight away

  • reporting any itching or swelling to your midwife

If you are concerned at any time about the movements of your baby, bleeding or pain,

contact your midwife straight away.

Remember to always get yourself checked out!


  S.T.A.R.S. Children's Bereavement Group (Last WEDNESDAY of every month) 

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