Stillbirth occurs in every 3.5 of 1000 pregnancies in Ireland and is a devastating event for a family. Women who have a pregnancy after stillbirth require increased antenatal support.
This study aimed to determine maternal and fetal outcomes and to quantify health service utilization in pregnancy after stillbirth.
A retrospective cohort study of all pregnancies after stillbirth was conducted from 2011 to 2017 in a large tertiary referral university maternity teaching hospital with approximately 8000 births annually.
There were 222 stillbirths from 2011 to 2017. Two-thirds of women (145 of 222 [64.3%]) had a pregnancy after stillbirth. Almost one-fifth of these women (28 of 145 [19.3%]) had a miscarriage, but 16 of 28 women (57.1%) had a subsequent live birth, giving an overall live birth rate of 90.3% (131/145). The average interval from index loss to booking in the next pregnancy was 13 months, with almost half of the women (72 of 145 [49.7%]) booking within 1 year. The average number of antenatal appointments was twice than expected (10; range, 2-27), and the average number of ultrasound scans was 5 times higher than expected (5; range, 0-29). Rates of induction of labor (63 of 131 [48.1%]) and cesarean delivery (53 of 131 [40.5%]) were significantly higher than national rates for multiparous women. Almost two-thirds of women (40 of 63 [63.5%]) cited previous history of stillbirth as the indication for induction. There was a significantly higher rate of preterm delivery (30 of 131 [22.9%]). Moreover, 1 in 4 babies (35 of 137 [25.5%]) required admission to the neonatal intensive care unit, more than twice the number expected (median gestation, 37 0/7 weeks; range, 25 4/7 to 39 2/7 weeks).
Pregnancy after stillbirth was associated with increased surveillance and intervention. The women in this study had higher rates of cesarean delivery, induction of labor, and preterm delivery than the general multiparous population. Decision-making for intervention was often based on previous history of stillbirth. Clinicians should be cognizant of additional supports required for this population and focus on evidence-based interventions that improve maternal well-being and perinatal outcomes in pregnancy after stillbirth.