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A stillbirth

A stillbirth is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most stillbirths happen before a woman goes into labor. Some stillbirths may happen during labor and birth.

How your baby may be delivered:

Talk to your healthcare provider about the ways your baby can be delivered. Your baby may be delivered by any of the following ways:

  • Natural labor may happen within 2 weeks after a stillbirth.
  • Induction of labor means your healthcare provider will give you medicine to make labor and delivery happen. Your labor may need to be induced if you do not go into natural labor within 2 weeks of a stillbirth.
  • Dilation and evacuation is surgery to deliver your baby. Your healthcare provider will dilate (open) your cervix and deliver your baby through your vagina.
  • A cesarean , or C-section, is surgery to deliver your baby. Your healthcare provider will make an incision in your lower abdomen. Your baby will be delivered through the incision.

What you can expect after delivery:

It is your choice to see your baby after delivery. Healthcare providers can give you and those whom you are close with, time alone with your baby. During this time you can hold your baby, take pictures, name your baby, or have a religious ceremony. Ask your healthcare provider if you can have something to remember your baby. This can include a handprint, a footprint, or his baby blanket.

Tests after a stillbirth:

Tests can be done to help find the cause of a stillbirth. Information from these tests may also help you plan for a future pregnancy. It is your choice whether or not to have you or your baby tested. Your healthcare provider may examine the umbilical cord or placenta for problems.

Get support:

The loss of a baby can be very difficult for both you and your partner. Both you and the people whom are close to you, need time to grieve. You may feel shock, anger, emptiness, helplessness or loneliness. You may be at an increased risk for postpartum depression. Join a support group or find a counselor who can help you cope with the loss of your baby. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on support groups or where you can find help.

  • March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
    1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
    White Plains , NY 10605
    Web Address:
  • First Candle
    1314 Bedford Avenue, Suite 210
    Baltimore , MD 21208
    Phone: 1- 800 - 221-7437
    Web Address:

Follow up with your obstetrician or healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.