Information for Patients
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
Twins, Triplets, Multiple Births
If you are pregnant with more than one baby, you are far from alone. Multiple births are up in the United States. More women are having babies after age 30 and more are taking fertility drugs. Both boost the chance of carrying more than one baby. A family history of twins also makes multiples more likely.
Years ago, most twins came as a surprise. Now, most women know about a multiple pregnancy early. Women with multiple pregnancies should see their health care providers more often than women who are expecting one baby. Multiple pregnancy babies have a much higher risk of being born prematurely and having a low birth weight. There is also more of a risk of disabilities. Some women have to go on bed rest to delay labor. Finally, they may deliver by C-section, especially if there are three babies or more.
Parenting multiples can be a challenge. Volunteer help and support groups for parents of multiples can help.
Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health