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Stillbirth is the loss of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy. When a baby dies while still in the womb, this may also be called fetal loss.
A doctor may deliver the baby by giving you medicine to start labour. Or you may have a surgical procedure called D&E (dilation and evacuation).
The loss of a baby is devastating and very hard to accept. You may wonder why it happened or blame yourself. But fetal loss can happen even during a pregnancy that has been going well.
In the weeks to come, try to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Take care of yourself in whatever way feels best.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
After a fetus dies, labour will usually begin on its own within 2 weeks. Many women don't want to wait that long. They choose to have labour induced. This means going to the hospital and, usually, getting medicine that starts the labour process.
If labour doesn't start on its own, your doctor may take steps to get your labour going.
After delivery, you will probably be able to see the baby if you want to. Although this can be very hard, some parents want the chance to hold the baby and say goodbye.
You will probably go home the next day.
Some women may be able to choose surgery (D&E) instead of going through labour. Your doctor will discuss whether this is an option for you.
Delivery by caesarean section is rare in fetal loss. It is major surgery, so it's only done when going through labour would be more dangerous.
If the exact cause of death isn't known, you may face a decision about whether to have an autopsy. This can be a hard decision. But an autopsy may help you find out why this terrible loss happened to you and whether it could happen again.
After the delivery, there are things you can do for your physical health and comfort.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor, midwife, or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
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Current as of: June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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