The death of a baby is devastating for a parent and their family, particularly if something has gone wrong with the management of the birth. At times like this, many people want answers as to what went wrong and why.
What is Stillbirth?
If a baby dies before it reaches 24 weeks, this is referred to as a miscarriage; after that period if the baby is not alive at birth, it is called a stillbirth. The 24 weeks timescale is important as it is accepted as the point at which a baby would probably survive if it was born (even at 24 weeks, a premature baby would still require intensive care and support in hospital).
Often the cause of the stillbirth cannot be determined although there are some common causes such as illness during pregnancy or birth defects.
Common causes of stillbirth include:
- infections and conditions such as diabetes
- high blood pressure
- German measles (rubella)
- Group B Streptococcus
- rhesus factor disease
- toxoplasmosis (often associated with domestic cats)
Stillbirth is a very distressing time and clearly takes great emotional toll on those affected. Some people would put stillbirth down to ‘nature’ but if has been caused as a result of poor or sub-standard care during pregnancy you deserve answers.
At Wilson Browne the clinical negligence/medical negligence team have experience representing women following a stillbirth where it is considered the stillbirth could have been prevented had those treating, properly noted the warning signs and intervened appropriately. In these circumstances damages can be obtained for the mother for the psychological injury caused as a result of this traumatic event.
For additional support, there are charities that can support parents following a stillbirth such as SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Deaths).
If you believe that something was mishandled during your pregnancy, leading to a stillbirth, you are entitled to know why. You first step should perhaps be to make a formal complaint to the Hospital Trust and it is likely that an internal enquiry will be carried out at the Hospital: the second step is to seek advice from a recognised expert such as our those in our team.