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Women’s expectations of management in their next pregnancy after an unexplained stillbirth: An Internet-based empirical study

Authors


Dr Stephen J Robson, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The Canberra Hospital, PO Box 11, Woden ACT 2606, Australia. Email: steve.robson@act.gov.au

Abstract

Background:  Unexplained stillbirth is the largest contributor to perinatal death, accounting for one-third of stillbirths. There appears to be no increase in perinatal death rates in the pregnancies that follow an unexplained stillbirth. However, these pregnancies have increased rates of induced labour and elective caesarean section, as well as preterm birth, low birthweight, instrumental delivery, ‘fetal distress’ and postpartum haemorrhage.

Aim:  To study the wishes for future pregnancy management in women who have suffered an unexplained stillbirth.

Methods:  An Internet-based survey of women after an unexplained stillbirth, seeking demographic information and reproductive history, details of management of the index stillbirth and information about their wishes for subsequent pregnancy management (antenatal surveillance, early delivery and caesarean delivery).

Results:  Of the total respondents included in the study, 93% wanted ‘testing’ over and above normal pregnancy care in their next pregnancy. Of the respondents, 81% wanted early delivery and 26% wanted a Caesarean delivery, irrespective of obstetric indications. These wishes were not influenced by socio-demographic factors, management of the index stillbirth (with the exception of having had a Caesarean delivery) or advice received on management of the next pregnancy (with the exception of being advised to have an early or Caesarean delivery).

Conclusions:  The women surveyed wanted increased fetal surveillance and early delivery, but not necessarily elective caesarean section.

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