I didn't know that stillbirth was preventable?! What were you supposed to do to prevent it?!
There are many things that can be done to prevent stillbirth from occurring. Many of these things depend on intensive monitoring of the pregnancy after early detection of a problem (sounds like a slogan of heard somewhere...early detection is key).
Many stillbirths (and miscarriages for that matter) are the result of blood clotting disorders or other treatable conditions. We aren't tested for them until AFTER we have suffered a loss.
In cases of knots in the umbilical cord, and in many cases of cord accidents, a trained ultrasound technician should be able to see the development of the problem (knot, too short of cord, cord looped around a body part that could become compressed during labor). The sad fact is that many u/s techs are not trained to do this type of exam.
In my case, the case of ascending intrauterine infection, paying attention to the symptoms in order to accurately diagnose...and then treating with IV antibiotics...could have been successful. No non-stress test was performed on my baby to determine if there was a problem. I was a victim of a doctor who was too busy to pay attention.
There are SO MANY causes for stillbirth. There are SO FEW health researchers studying these causes and what can be done about them. It is as though the world has accepted the 1% risk as hunky-dory. To the tens of thousands of us who have had to suffer through a stillbirth experience, however, the lack of concern is astounding.
According to the National Stillbirth Society (and from my own experience), there is no uniform protocol for even finding out the cause of a stillbirth. Often, doctors and nurses just tell the bereaved parents, "Sometimes these things happen." Why is there no system? Why are we willing to accept this? If there is ANY means by which we could gain knowledge about the various causes of stillbirth, we should be MANDATING them in our hospitals.
An illustration of the lack of respect that stillbirth gets in the medical community...Almost 10 times as many babies are stillborn each year than die of SIDS. There is a massive public education campaign concerning SIDS. Nothing about stillbirth. Even taking into account the fact that the public awareness campaign for SIDS is responsible for the decline in numbers...where is the public outcry for stillbirth education?
The fact is that there ARE things that can be done to prevent stillbirth. We don't know them all because this area of women's health has received so little attention. But we do know some of them...and we should be taking advantage of them. Blood testing for clotting disorders, better ultrasound technicians (how many of us have had bad experiences with one of these? I know I have), doctors that are better equipped to LISTEN to their patients and pay attention (rather than crank us in and out of the office so fast they can't even remember why we're there).
I don't mean to sound like there is any one magic cure-all answer to the entire stillbirth epidemic. But a 1% risk of stillbirth is not acceptable. We should strive for better. And if we can find a cause...a way to prevent...even ONE baby from dying...then we will have made progress.
There are MANY things we can do to prevent stillbirth. Education is the key. Not treating women as though they are wilting flowers who cannot handle honesty about their own medical care is a major issue. How many times have I heard, "It's a freak thing...we can't treat every woman as a tragedy waiting to happen." Instead of advocating that women be provided information that will help them identify if they are at increased risk for stillbirth, we allow the medical establishment to gloss over it.
In fact, we allow the medical establishment to give women the false sense that they "don't need to worry about it" because it is so rare. How are we EVER going to make strides to eradicate this problem if we don't have the information? I'll probably never get struck down by cancer, but I know the things to avoid in my life to make the odds swing a bit in my favor. Why not the same education for women who may become pregnant?
Because 20,000+ dead babies a year is an acceptable risk...to allow women to walk around blissfully naive and not have to face the reality of the delicate balance between life and death.
Thanks for the comment Rach...it's very thought provoking and I hope I don't sound like a nut in responding to it in this way. Maybe I'm just bitter that I'm not one of those naive women anymore. But I don't think so. I TRULY believe that a little education could go a long way in this area. I think the psychological discomfort of women would be far less than people think. Women are strong...they can handle information. And if it helps to keep even one baby alive, then I say we should give it a try.