Not all the causes of stillbirth are known and it’s not possible to prevent every stillbirth. However, certain factors can increase your risk and there are things you can do to reduce some of these risks.
1. Go to all your antenatal appointments
Your LMC midwife or doctor will regularly measure your baby’s growth during your pregnancy, to check that your baby is growing at a healthy rate. Some of the tests and measurements that can identify potential problems have to be done at specific times. Read more about pregnancy screening tests and checks.
2. Get to know the pattern of your baby’s movements
There is no set number of normal movements. Get to know your baby’s movements and what is normal for them. A reduction or a sudden increase in a baby's movements can sometimes be an important warning sign that a baby is unwell. If you are concerned about a change in your baby’s movements, contact your midwife or doctor immediately. You are not wasting their time.
3. Sleep on your side
Research shows that going to sleep on your side from 28 weeks of pregnancy halves your risk of stillbirth compared with going to sleep on your back. Lying on your back in the last 3 months of pregnancy presses on major blood vessels, which can reduce blood flow to the womb and oxygen supply to the baby.
4. If you smoke, quit
Smoking in pregnancy has an immediate negative effect on your baby. Carbon monoxide replaces some of the oxygen in your blood and nicotine also reduces the flow of blood through the umbilical cord. Quitting at any time during pregnancy reduces the harm to your baby. However, planning to quit as early as you can means a better start in life for your baby. Ask your healthcare professional about advice and support on how to stop smoking and available services to support quitting.
5. Eat healthily and keep active
Eating a healthy balanced diet and getting regular exercise is important for you and your baby. Putting on weight is natural and will help you breastfeed well, but being overweight or obese can increase the risk of problems in pregnancy.
Read more about eating, drinking and watching your weight during pregnancy.
6. Avoid alcohol in pregnancy
The safest way to ensure your baby isn't damaged by alcohol is not to drink while you're pregnant.
Read more about alcohol and pregnancy.