Stillbirth is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most stillbirths happen before a pregnant person goes into labor, but a small number happen during labor and birth.

Stillbirth affects about 1 in 175 births, and each year about 21,000 babies are stillborn in the United States. In 2021, an estimated 1.9 million babies were stillborn at 28 weeks of pregnancy or later, with a global stillbirth rate of 13.9 stillbirths per 1,000 total births.

There are major differences in stillbirth rates among different groups in the United States and globally. According to the CDC, for Black people, the stillbirth rate is more than double the rate than other groups, except when compared with American Indian/Alaskan Native people. These are rates per 1,000 live births and stillbirths: Non-Hispanic Black 10.32, American Indian/Alaska Native people 7.22, Hispanic 5.01, Non-Hispanic white 4.89, Asian or Pacific Islander 4.29.

Stillbirth occurs in families of all races, ethnicities, and income levels, and to women of all ages. However, stillbirth occurs more commonly among certain groups of people including women who are of black race, are 35 years of age or older, are of low socioeconomic status, smoke cigarettes during pregnancy, have certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, have multiple pregnancies such as triplets or quadruplets and have had a previous pregnancy loss

This does not mean that every individual of black race or older age is at higher risk for having a stillbirth. It simply means that overall as a group, more stillbirths occur among all mothers of black race or older age when compared to white mothers and mothers under 35 years of age. However, communities of color are disproportionately affected by racism and unequal living conditions that affect their health and well-being and puts them at a higher risk of pregnancy complications, such as stillbirth.

The most common symptom of stillbirth is when you stop feeling your baby moving and kicking. Others include cramps, pain or bleeding from the vagina. Call your healthcare provider right away, or go to the emergency room if you have any of these conditions.

If your baby is stillborn, your provider will talk with you about options for giving birth. When and how you give birth depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy, your medical condition, and what you think is best for you and your family. Some pregnant people need to give birth right away for medical reasons, but it’s often safe to wait until you go into labor on your own. Labor usually starts within 2 weeks after a baby dies in the womb.

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