- Risk factors include maternal perception of decreased fetal movements (strength or frequency), fetal growth restriction, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, overweight and obesity, pregnancy beyond 41 weeks’ gestation, primiparity, maternal age over 35 years (particularly for women aged 40 years or more), and previous stillbirth (Flenady 2011).
- Smoking in pregnancy is one of the major contributors to stillbirth. Every puff of a cigarette has an immediate negative effect on the baby. Smoking cessation support helps women to stop smoking and is available during antenatal care.
- Fetal growth restriction - Risk assessment for fetal growth restriction should be undertaken in early pregnancy and at each antenatal visit through inquiry about maternal characteristics and medical history, previous obstetric history and risk factors that may arise in pregnancy.
- Decreased fetal movements - Getting to know the pattern of your baby’s movements is important—it is a way your baby can tell you that they are well. There is no set number of normal movements. You should get to know your baby’s movements and what is normal for them.
- Sleep on side from 28 weeks - Research shows that side sleeping on either side from 28 weeks of pregnancy can halve the risk of stillbirth compared to going to sleep on your back.
- Timing of birth for women with risk factors - If there are health concerns that might increase the risk of stillbirth, your maternity healthcare professional will discuss with you how the timing of birth might reduce your risks, with your pregnancy continuing as long as it is safe for you and your baby.
All women should be assessed early in pregnancy for the presence of risk factors and subsequent care should be planned accordingly.