Information and support in one place.

Losing a child at any age is devastating and traumatic. However, it can be particularly distressing and shocking when you lose a child during your pregnancy or shortly after birth. Often the terminology used, or the information provided, can be difficult to understand and comprehend in what are extremely difficult times.

Much of the terms used depend on the medical and legal definition and can often feel clinical, cold, or inconsiderate. However, here we will try and set out some information that may provide some guidance and insight.

What is it? A definition

The definition of a stillbirth death refers to a baby who dies in utero (in the mother’s womb) after 24 weeks gestation. Any death that occurs before this time is commonly referred to as a miscarriage, spontaneous abortion or pregnancy loss, amongst other things.

Causes – common examples

Sadly, there is not always a clear cause or explanation for a stillbirth. However, the common factors or causes to stillbirth cases include:

  • infections – such as Hepatitis B, Group Strep B
  • a prolonged pregnancy over 42 weeks
  • pregnancies involving twins or multiple pregnancies
  • complications associated with maternal conditions – such as high blood pressure and preeclampsia, lupus
  • premature labour and premature rupture of the membranes (PROM)
  • placental abruption or internal bleeding leading to oxygen deprivation
  • problems with the placenta and umbilical cord

It is important to seek guidance and medical advice if you feel any abnormal symptoms or changes in your pregnancy. Every pregnancy is unique and if you feel any changes relating to your health, the fetal movements, growth, bleeding, sudden or unexpected pain or weight loss/gain you should seek advice urgently. Monitoring, examinations and scans are integral to any treatment as is a clear conversation with the mother as to what symptoms are normal and what changes have occurred. On most occasions, blood tests, scans or fetal heart rate monitoring can help prevent the development of serious conditions. If serious conditions have been diagnosed arrangements can be made for you to stay in hospital for appropriate and critical care.

Any factors that make the pregnancy high risk should be considered carefully by your treating clinicians from the outset. If you are deemed high risk you should be under consultant led care and have regular appointments and review.

Support organisations and charities

Aching Arms is here to help and support you when you’ve experienced the heartbreak of losing your baby, during pregnancy, at birth or soon after.

We offer a beautiful comfort bear to fill your arms and a community to support you as you grieve. Each Aching Arms bear is given as a gift from one bereaved family to another, to let you know that you are not alone.

When you need us, our Supporting Arms service is here for you. The service is run by bereaved parents and gives you the opportunity to talk to someone who has an understanding of what you’re going through. If you would like to talk about your feelings, share your experience or want some advice, we can help

Related support.

View all advice

Neonatal death

The definition of a neonatal death refers to a baby who has died in the first 28 days of life. Unlike a stillbirth, this definition covers a liveborn child – a child born at any gestation showing signs of life at delivery.

Maternal mental health

Many women will seek help for their child who might have suffered an injury but often forget the importance of their mental health.

Support for partners and families

Witnessing a traumatic birth or living with a birth injury can have a devastating effect on partners, siblings, and other family members.

Legal advice.

The birth of a child should be a time of happiness, excitement and celebration. Sadly, when negligent mistakes are made by medical professionals the result is pain, heartache and frustration for parents and the wider family.

If you believe that you have a birth injury negligence claim in relation to any wrong or mistreatment you received during birth, then please contact a member of our medical negligence specialist team today. We are dedicated to your best interests and can advise you on how to proceed. If after talking to us you decide not to take matters further you are under no obligation to do so and you will not be charged for our initial advice session.

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