What causes stillbirth


Stillbirth (intrauterine fetal death) means the birth of a dead fetus of 500 g or more at birth or a gestational age of at least 22 completed weeks. According to Article 9 of the Civil Status Ordinance, a stillborn child must be registered and entered in the birth register.

Unfortunately, the exact cause of stillbirths is unknown in over 30% of all cases. In the remaining cases, stillbirth can be caused by growth disorders of the fetus, placenta complications, preeclampsia, untreated diabetes mellitus, severe cases of Rh intolerance, infections, bleeding during late pregnancy, and uncontrolled transmission. This is one of the reasons obstetricians usually recommend artificial induction for complications after the 38th week of pregnancy.

Fortunately, the number of stillbirths is declining in western countries and is currently below 1%. Stillbirths are more common in socially disadvantaged population groups, in late births and in women who were inadequately cared for during pregnancy.

A stillbirth is often preceded by decreased fetal movements in the days or week before the death of the fetus in the uterus. It is also often the case that the mother does not notice any movement, but tests in the hospital detect movements of the child. In some cases it is found that the child is no longer doing so well - these babies can only be saved from death by giving birth as quickly as possible. You should follow your child's movements as carefully as possible and notify your gynecologist or midwife immediately if you have not felt anything for 6 to 8 hours.

Although labor usually starts on its own within a few days after the child dies, most women prefer immediate induction. A caesarean section would be unusual in this case to save the mother unnecessary surgery. You can then take advantage of both medical and psychological support. Of course, everything possible is done to find a cause for the stillbirth.

Again and again one comes across the term "star child" or "angel child". Originally, it was used to describe newborns who died weighing less than 500 g before, during or after birth. Today the term is also used by affected parents if the deceased child weighed more than 500 g - but also for miscarriages. This also describes the intense bond between the parents and their child, which leads to equally intense grief.

Help for parents who lost their child through a miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth during or shortly after the birth is available at www.engelskinder.ch, from the Rainbow Association, the Girasol parent meeting point and the Child Loss During Pregnancy and Childbirth center and first lifetime, Belpstrasse 24, 3007 Bern, [email protected] or www.kindsicherung.ch. The specialist office has set up an information telephone that is manned Monday to Friday from 8.30 a.m. to 10.00 a.m.: 031-333 33 60.


The swissmom forum has a special "Sternenkinder" forum for affected parents - for exchange and mutual consolation.

Book tip

"Emily and the Engelsrufer" is a book for families who have to deal with the loss of a little person whom they were never allowed to get to know or only very briefly. A sensitive story about star children, written by Alice Andres with loving illustrations by Jacqueline Kauer. Each book contains a handicraft sheet with a guardian angel mobile to make yourself.

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To lose a child | 16.12.2019

Various studies show that women are better able to cope with an early miscarriage if they receive clear information and support options and can make an informed choice about how to proceed. In cooperation with the Swiss Gynecological Society (SGGG) and the Swiss Midwives Association (SHV), the specialty department kindsloss.ch has published a 20-page information brochure. It gives affected women information about possible ways after the diagnosis of an early miscarriage (before the 12th week of pregnancy) as well as inputs for processing what happened and is given out in hospitals and practices. An order is also possible at www.kindsfluss.ch/bestellformular/.

Last update: 17-11-18, bra