Stillbirth and neonatal death

A few women had lost their baby either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Stillbirths and neonatal deaths are fortunately rare but very distressing.

One baby died in the womb at 24 weeks after being diagnosed with a serious genetic condition. Doctors had told the mother the baby was unlikely to survive the whole pregnancy (see Interview 31).

Another baby died unexpectedly at 36 weeks. His mother had diabetes, so she was being monitored carefully in the last weeks of pregnancy. Everything had seemed fine until one weekend the baby seemed to stop moving and she went for a scan, never expecting to hear he had died. The baby was born by caesarean, and the couple spent time with him and had a christening.

She could not help wondering whether anything could have been done differently. She had asked to have the baby early to make sure he was safe, but her doctors felt it was safer to wait a few more weeks. She did not want to blame anyone for what had happened, but sometimes felt guilty herself.

When a baby dies, telling other children can be very hard. Their older son had himself been very ill at birth and was afraid of hospitals and illness, and was also anxious about his brother dying.

Another mother had gone through pregnancy knowing her baby was likely to die, because he had a diaphragmatic hernia. Several family members came to be with her when the baby was induced. It had helped to talk to other women from a support group for the condition. It was clear when Oscar was born that he would not live long, and his heart stopped when he was 10 hours old. Both physical and emotional recovery were difficult, and she needed antidepressants to help her get through. She and her partner separated again after the birth.

See also Interview 38 on the Healthtalk - Antenatal screening site.

For further links see our pregnancy resources.

Last reviewed May 2017.
Last updated August 2010.


Please use the form below to tell us what you think of the site. We’d love to hear about how we’ve helped you, how we could improve or if you have found something that’s broken on the site. We are a small team but will try to reply as quickly as possible.

Please note that we are unable to accept article submissions or offer medical advice. If you are affected by any of the issues covered on this website and need to talk to someone in confidence, please contact The Samaritans or your Doctor.

Make a Donation to

Find out more about how you can help us.

Send to a friend

Simply fill out this form and we'll send them an email