Causes of StillBirth and How to Prevent it

Content Team

A woman is said to have a stillbirth when her baby is born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy. If the baby dies before 24 weeks, it's called a miscarriage or late foetal loss.

According to Healthy Newborn Network, “Nigeria has the second highest rate of stillbirths in the world at 42.9 per 1,000 total births as well as the second highest absolute number of stillbirths, estimated at 314,000 in 2015.”

They observed that ‘ The major causes of stillbirths in a hospital study in Nigeria included antepartum haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, uterine rupture, low birthweight, and congenital fetal malformations.[iii] Globally, infections and other intrapartum-related complications are additional important causes”.

Some other causes of stillbirth are unknown. However, there are factors that predispose a woman woman to have still birth are being older than 35 years, smoking habit, overweight or obese, having pre-existing diabetes, have had a previous stillbirth etc.

In order to minimize the chances of having a stillbirth every pregnant woman should do the following.

  1. Sleep on your side:

Do not sleep on your back after 28 weeks of pregnancy. The proper position to sleep is on your side. Sleeping on your back causes a lot of health risk to you and your baby. When you sleep on your back your abdomen rests on your intestines and major blood vessels the pressure from this can cause Backaches, breathing issues, digestive problems, low blood pressure, hemorrhoids.  Sleeping on your back decreases blood circulation to your heart and to your baby and three times increases your chances of having a stillbirth.


  1. Monitor Fetal Movements: In pregnancy, you start feeling your baby move between 16 to 25 weeks. early on in pregnancy, you would feel a little flutter but as your pregnancy progress it becomes stronger. Research shows that in your third trimester your baby should moves about 30 times each hour. These movement would varies based on when they are awake or asleep. You should be observant of your growing baby if there is a decrease in movement contact your doctor as soon as possible.


  1. Stop Smoking: Smoking in pregnancy is closely linked to health issues in pregnancy such as premature birth, poor fetal growth, Sudden Infant Death, stillbirth etc.


  1. Attend Antenatal clinics: Antenatal clinic attendance is not just for formality especially for second time or other times mums who have had previous birthing experience. It is important that you attend antenatal because there the health status of your baby is checked regularly to monitor growth.


  1. Optimise Birth Timing: The chances of having a stillbirth increases as a woman get to her estimated date of delivery and beyond it. If you delay showing up at the hospital and your baby is due for one reason or the other the placental of the baby becomes incapable of meeting the needs of your baby. The right thing to do is to go to the hospital when your baby is due even if labour did not start as expected.