Not This Time

Emotional Scars

A stillbirth is always a tragedy and leaves emotional scars. The old truism; once burned, twice shy, can be applied to women who dare to become pregnant after a stillbirth: subsequent pregnancies fill them with worry and fear. They wonder if they will have another stillbirth, an experience they can't bear to relive.

While the overall risk for having a stillborn child is low for most couples, the risk is a bit higher for couples who have already had one such experience. That's why couples who have had a stillbirth should consider undergoing genetic counseling before trying to conceive another child. A genetic counselor can advise couples about the risks of recurrent stillbirth and complications associated with a second conception and pregnancy.

Couples who have had a stillbirth should talk to their health care provider about the possible risk for another stillbirth before they consider getting pregnant again. There may be some steps a health care provider can take to reduce a woman's risk during a further pregnancy. If the stillbirth was due to a maternal illness such as diabetes or high blood pressure, for instance, a woman's health care provider can make sure the condition is well under control before the woman tries to conceive again.

Take Charge!

Dr. Sarah Kye Price, of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work believes that in most cases, women are well aware of what may have caused their loss the first time around. Price has found that 25% of American women had one or more fetal deaths before having a live birth. "It is important for women to be self advocating, ask a lot of questions and take charge of their experience and not see it as a weakness," comments Price.

Richard K. Olsen, the founder of the National Stillbirth Society notes that there are many procedures that have the potential to save a pregnancy and most of the time; these are not discussed with the patients. Physicians may believe that such procedures won't work, but at other times, this reticence is due to the fact that insurance companies refuse to cover the lifesaving procedures. Says Olsen, whose daughter Camille was born stillborn at full-term, "In the end it is the mothers of America coming together, not the medical community or the government, that is going to help us conquer stillbirth and start to reverse the appalling loss of life that devastates so many families."

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