Research reveals two strategies women can use to lower the risks of stillbirth: counting kicks, and sleeping on their left side. (Shutterstock)
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day on Oct. 15, 2017 draws our attention to a bleak statistic — an estimated one in four pregnancies end in a loss. Many of these are early miscarriages. But in Canada about one in 125 pregnancies end in a stillbirth — that is, the death of a fetus in utero after 20 weeks gestation.
Countries such as Korea and Finland have much lower rates of stillbirth, so we know that there is more we can do to prevent it. There is research on the risk factors that increase the chances of a stillbirth. Yet many pregnancy guides do not give enough information about stillbirth, in the belief that women do not want to be frightened about pregnancy loss.
Information about how to prevent stillbirth needs to get into the hands of women who need it, even if it leads to an uncomfortable conversation. As a medical librarian, my job is to connect people to trusted information about their health. When dealing with a taboo topic, such as stillbirth, this is even more challenging as both health care providers and women might be afraid of increasing anxiety, rather than improving health.