The relevance of history and physical examination in diagnosing fetal death is limited. The only symptom in the majority of individuals is reduced fetal movement. The failure to get fetal heart tones during testing implies fetal mortality, although this is not definitive; an ultrasonographic investigation must verify death.
The lack of cardiac activity and visualization of the fetal heart are used to identify fetal death.
When an intrauterine fetal death is detected, the doctor will notify the parents and discuss options for terminating the pregnancy and inducing birth. Parents may choose to wait to be induced after grieving the death of their child or to take the baby if there are other healthy infants in the womb.
Treatment options for fetal death include:
- Dilation of the cervix to remove the fetus (dilation and evacuation procedure)
- A catheter is inserted to trigger contractions (Foley bulb induction)
- Taking medication to induce labor and natural delivery
A doctor will advise the mother of any possible risk factors before choosing which treatment option to use to deliver a stillborn child. Infection, uterine injury, and excessive bleeding are all common risk factors. If the unborn baby is not removed from the uterus, complications such as blood clots, fever, discomfort, infection, and vomiting may occur.