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Preventing stillbirths: What you can do to help

A stillbirth is a traumatizing event for families; many happen without warning and are natural, but some are preventable with the right care. When a woman has diabetes or high blood pressure, it's imperative that she's monitored and has her baby's health checked often as the pregnancy progresses. If the child has any signs of distress, the medical team working with the mother needs to take action to help and prevent death in the womb.

Sometimes, babies in distress require an emergency C-section, even when they're not at full term. A doctor must weigh the benefits of an early delivery against the risk of leaving a child inside the mother. In some cases, the chances of survival outweigh the risks, even with an early birth.

Taking care of yourself before and during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of a stillbirth. Taking up to 800 micrograms of folic acid, avoiding alcohol and smoking and taking only prescribed medications helps you keep yourself healthy. If a doctor prescribes a medication improperly and causes you to miscarry or to deliver a child in a stillbirth, then you may be in a position to file a medical malpractice claim.

Other things you might want to do include avoiding unpasteurized dairy foods or undercooked meats. Eating these foods could lead to food poisoning, which could cause distress for you and your unborn child.

If you feel that a stillbirth may have been a result of a medication or action taken by a medical professional, it's important to look into your legal options. Not all miscarriages and stillbirths are preventable, but some are a result of negligence.

Source: WebMD, "Understanding Stillbirth -- Prevention," accessed Sep. 21, 2016

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