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Stillbirth: What really happened?

November 18, 2019 Pegalis Law Group

Stillbirth is one of the most devastating events a parent can experience. After months of anticipation and preparation, to lose the baby you’ve waited for can seem like a cruel twist of fate. But sometimes, stillbirth has little to do with fate: it’s the result of negligent medical care. If you have lost a child to stillbirth, people may have tried to comfort you by saying that sometimes these things just happen. It may be more comforting,  to know why it happened.

A stillbirth occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy, as losses before that time are classified as miscarriages. Past 20 weeks, it is  rare for babies to die suddenly, so there’s often a reason for the stillbirth. It may have been a maternal condition like high blood pressure, diabetes, or a bacterial infection like listeriosis. The mother might have used recreational drugs, smoked, or consumed alcohol while pregnant.

Problems with the placenta or umbilical cord may require intervention , but if the doctor doesn’t detect them quickly, it may be too late for treatment. However, if the mother is receiving prenatal care, and the proper tests are being run, there’s no reason a competent doctor should miss this kind of problem. The heartbeat should be closely monitored, and the mother’s urine and blood pressure should be checked at every visit. Ultrasounds are also an important part of monitoring the baby’s growth and well-being.

When a family suffers a stillbirth, it’s important to ask the right questions. Immediately after the birth, it can be hard to focus on getting answers, but an autopsy can provide information to help avoid problems in future pregnancies.  When you are up to it, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to explain what he or she thinks happened. If you decide to switch doctors for any reason, obtain a copy of your medical record, so you can let your future doctor know what happened.

Seeking a legal-medical consultation will not erase your grief, but it may help you find closure after a loss. If you have experienced a stillbirth because of what you believe was an instance of medical malpractice, contact the law firm of Pegalis Law Group, LLC. For nearly 50 years, we have advocated for people of all ages to help our clients financially and make healthcare safer for everyone. You can reach us today by calling (516) 726-1549 or reaching out to us through our website.

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