Giving birth to a stillborn baby


Stillbirth of a baby can be shocking to the parents. To add to their grief, the doctor will discuss the options to deliver the stillborn baby. Giving birth to a stillborn baby isnt any different from delivering a normal baby. Read further to know what happens after a stillbirth of a baby is confirmed by the doctor.

Last Updated: 22 October 2020

Giving birth to a stillborn baby
Giving birth to a stillborn baby

Stillbirth is the death of the unborn baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It can happen either during pregnancy or during labor and delivery. According to the American Pregnancy Association, 1 out of 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth.

Most stillbirths happen a few days or weeks before the expected due date in which case, the baby needs to be delivered just as how an otherwise normal labor would proceed. Rarely, stillbirths occur during labor or delivery when the baby is almost delivered or close to be delivered.

Understanding the loss of your baby

Most probably you will be in an ultrasound room or in your doctor’s office when your doctor will reveal the death of your baby in the womb. You might want to read the symptoms and risks of stillbirth which can warn parents of a stillbirth.

At first, it might seem unbelievable that your baby, whom you have been waiting for months, is not alive any longer. Sadly, before you can come to terms emotionally with what has happened, you will be required to make decisions about delivering the baby, taking memos, informing family and friends, making certificates and funeral proceedings. It is hard! Yet, your decision in each of the steps following the baby loss is important to people around you in order to keep their work moving on.

Delivering your stillborn baby

Your doctor will discuss with you the options of giving birth to a stillborn baby. If it is not an emergency situation and carries no risk to your health, you may be asked to go home to decide about the method to deliver your baby.

The recommended method of giving birth to a stillborn baby is natural, vaginal birth. If labor contractions do not begin at the expected time, pain induction will be administered. If it is an emergency-seeking condition where the baby has to be taken out immediately or if the mother is affected with a condition which is not safe for vaginal birth, C-section will be performed. 

Giving birth to a stillborn baby through vaginal birth

A vaginal birth of a stillborn baby is not much different from that of a healthy baby. Labor and delivery proceeds in three stages as follows:

In the first stage, labor contractions begin and continue to get stronger. With increasing contractions, your cervix begins to thin-out, also called effacement. Your cervix starts to dilate from 0 centimeters to 10 centimeter. In the second stage, you’ll begin to push your baby down through the birth canal. After the baby is out, in the third stage, contractions will continue to deliver the placenta.

Labor Induction

If you need a labor induction for some reasons, your doctor will check for the dilation and effacement of your cervix. If your cervix isn’t dilated or ripened, prostaglandins will be administered through the vagina. This will induce cervical ripening and labor contractions.

If your body does not respond to prostaglandins or if your cervix is already dilated and thinned-out but contractions do not begin, Pitocin (a drug that contains oxytocin) will be administered intravenously to induce labor.

Pain relief during labor

If labor pain becomes unbearable while giving birth to a stillborn baby, you will be provided with pain management options. The common pain relief methods are:

·         Epidural

An epidural is a local anesthetic administered to a pregnant mother during labor in order to ease the pain in the lower part of the body. On an epidural, one will still be awake and alert to proceed with the normal birthing process.

·         Injections of pain relief drugs (pethidine, meptids, diamorphine)

Most of the drugs used for labor pain management belong to a group of drugs called opioids. They are administered intravenously into the buttocks or thighs of the pregnant mother during labor.

·         Nitrous oxide and air (Entonox)

A gaseous mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen when inhaled through a mask over the face by the pregnant mother is known to relieve labor pain. You will be able to hold the mask and control when you want to inhale and how long you want to.

Giving birth to a stillborn baby through C-section

A C-section delivery of your stillborn baby involves a spinal anesthesia followed by a surgery. The disadvantages of having a C-section delivery are longer recovery time and increased chances of C-section for the subsequent deliveries. However, under certain circumstances, a C-section may be the safest option to deliver your baby.

The circumstances which may demand a C-section for delivering your stillborn baby are:

·         Baby is in breech position, that is, the baby’s feet or bottoms are towards the cervix

·         Multiple pregnancies in which one or more babies are stillborn

·         If there was a prior C-section or an abdominal surgery


·         Pregnancy complications like preeclampsia or placental abruption


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