A miscarriage at 7 months is actually considered a stillbirth because it is a pregnancy loss that occurred after 20 weeks gestational age. There are a number of possible causes and risk factors for stillbirths during pregnancy.
Causes of a Potential Stillbirth at 7 Months
The most common causes of stillbirth are complications that include:
Problems With the Placenta
When the placenta pulls away from the uterine wall, this is called placenta abruption which can be life threatening to both mom and baby. When this happens, the baby will not receive the oxygen and nutrients it needs to thrive in utero and could lead to stillbirth. Also, any issues that may affect the blood flow to the placenta could potentially be harmful to the baby.
If your baby has chromosomal abnormalities or birth defects from environmental factors, or unknown causes, this can increase the risk of stillbirths.
Umbilical Cord Accidents
If the umbilical cord becomes knotted or compressed during pregnancy, or becomes wrapped tightly around the baby's neck, this will deprive your baby of the oxygen it needs and can lead to stillbirth.
Intrauterine Growth Restriction
Your baby may be diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction if he is measuring smaller than normal and is not growing appropriately. This may be due to the baby not receiving the nutrients and oxygen as he should.
Rh disease occurs if you're pregnant and do not have the Rh factor protein but your baby does. Therefore, you are considered Rh negative. However, this disease can be treated and prevented.
There are various infections that can potentially be harmful to your baby which include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Bacterial and viral infections
Maternal Medical Complications or Disorders
If you have been diagnosed with the following complications, it is important to manage them during your pregnancy. They include:
- Preexisting or pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia
- Preexisting or gestational diabetes
- Kidney disease
- Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (liver condition)
Maternal Use of Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco
There is an increased risk of stillbirth if you smoke, drink alcohol or use illegal or prescription drugs.
Stress during pregnancy can potentially increase the chance of a stillbirth.
Rare Causes of Stillbirths
Uncommon causes for stillbirths include:
- If a fetomaternal hemorrhage occurs, which is when baby's blood mixes with your blood
- Abdominal trauma caused from an automobile accident or a fall
- Asphyxia (lack of oxygen) during delivery
- Autoimmune conditions such as lupus may lead to stillbirth
- Thyroid disorders
- Clotting disorders
- Pregnancies that go past their due date and the placenta becomes too mature and unable to supply the nutrients
Risk factors for having a stillbirth include:
- If you are advanced maternal age (35 or older) or under 20 years old
- If you are obese
- If you are expecting multiples
- If it's your first pregnancy
- If you had complications in a previous pregnancy such as stillbirth, premature birth or you had preeclampsia
- If you had prior surgery on your uterus
- If you smoke when you're pregnant
- If you are low income
- If you're a black woman
Preventing Miscarriage and Stillbirths
Some miscarriages and stillbirths are unavoidable. However, women can take proactive measures to help ensure that they are doing everything possible to have a healthy pregnancy. Women who know they will be a high-risk pregnancy should begin taking preventative measures even before becoming pregnant. This begins with a visit to your doctor who can offer a viable plan to help with any issues regarding your pregnancy.
When to Call Your Doctor
If you are considered a high-risk pregnancy and you have an increased risk of stillbirth, you should ask your doctor what potential signs and symptoms to watch for that may indicate a possible problem. These may include:
- Frequent contractions
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Baby is not moving
- Vaginal bleeding
- Leaking or gushing of water
- Intense headaches
- Blurred vision
- Painful urination
Help and Support
Mothers often create strong bonds with their babies from the moment that they find out they are pregnant. The idea of losing a baby anytime during a pregnancy is a source of fear for many expecting parents and a loss at any stage is devastating. It is important that you and your partner allow time to grieve your loss and consider finding help and support to guide you through the grieving process.