In every pregnancy, there is an ideal time for labour to begin and for the baby to be born. In most cases, a healthy pregnancy without complications means waiting for labour to occur naturally, ideally as close to 40 weeks gestation as possible.
Sometimes, women experience complications of health concerns that might increase the risk of stillbirth. This is where they will be referred to specialists for further assessment and management. This may include more comprehensive counselling, additional antenatal appointments as well as extra tests such as imaging, fetal monitoring or prenatal procedures.
Timing of birth to reduce the risk of further complications including stillbirth may be discussed. Early recognition of a woman at risk and appropriate individualised care is a key stillbirth prevention strategy.
Women may receive closer monitoring of their pregnancies and discuss timing of birth if they demonstrate the following risk factors:
- being over 35 years old
- smoking in late pregnancy
- high BMI
- artificial reproductive treatments (IVF, IUI, ICSI ect)
- alcohol and drug use
- previous stillbirth
- low social economic state
- pre existing medical condition such as diabetes and hypertension
- Fetal Growth Restriction and Small for Gestational Age
- post term pregnancy (over 41 weeks)
- ethnicities including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Pacific, African or South Asian
- pre existing maternal health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension.
Research tell us that every week a baby can remain safely inside their mother’s womb, their short and long term health and developmental outcomes improve. In the last 4-5 weeks of pregnancy, a baby’s brain increases in weight by 50% - this is significant.
Red Nose recommends that women attend all of their antenatal appointments, especially if they have any of the above risk factors. Working together with healthcare providers will help keep you and your baby healthy and safe. Together, a shared decision about the agreed timing of birth can be made and plans for birth can be formalised.
For more information on preventing stillbirth, visit our advice hub.
Last modified: 23/1/20