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Stillbirth – the absolute risk

What are the “absolute” risks of stillbirth?

Many healthcare providers create fear in women when they say, “the risk of stillbirth doubles by the end of 42 weeks.”

This is the “relative” risk of stillbirth.

It is important that you obtain the “absolute” risk before making any decisions.

The “absolute” risk means how often does that thing actually happen and where is the supporting evidence?”

So, what is the absolute risk of stillbirth?

If we look at recent studies conducted, all researchers found a relative increase in the risk of stillbirth as pregnancy advanced, but this risk was 0.052% – 0.072% in all weeks of gestation except with 42+ weeks as shown by Morken and Rosenstein, but even their study still showed the risk as being 0.117%.


Morken (2014) 1,855,682 women between 1967 – 2006 37 weeks = 0.14 per 1000
38 weeks = 0.18 per 1000
39 weeks = 0.26 per 1000
40 weeks = 0.52 per 1000
41 weeks = 0.68 per 1000
42+ weeks = 1.17 per 1000
Weiss (2014) 472,843 women between
2004 – 2009
37 weeks = 2.77 per 1000
38 weeks = 1.09 per 1000
39 weeks = 0.90 per 1000
40 weeks = 0.72 per 1000
41 weeks = 0.44 per 1000
42+ weeks = 0.70 per 1000
Rosenstein (2012) 3,820,826 women between
1997 – 2006
37 weeks = 0.21 per 1000
38 weeks = 0.27 per 1000
39 weeks = 0.35 per 1000
40 weeks = 0.42 per 1000
41 weeks = 0.61 per 1000
42+ weeks = 1.08 per 1000

There is no evidence to support that women planning a VBAC must go into labour by 39 weeks to prevent stillbirth.

With induction you need to do your research and assess your own risks, not what someone else has done or is advising.

You need to find out what factors would increase the likelihood of you having a stillbirth.

You then need to look at all your options and decide if you are in a position where you can just wait and keep monitoring the health of you and baby and then induce if there is a medical need.

Think about whether your decision is based on treating an “actual” problem or treating a “potential” problem that may not even occur.

Birth, pregnancy, VBAC, pushing baby out, Vicki Hobbs, VBAC statistics, maternity, mothers and babies, cesarean, caesarean, VBAC in Australia, Hypnobirthing Australia, VBAC in Perth, stillbirth



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    About Vicki Hobbs

    My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a Childbirth Educator (Back to Basics Birthing), Hypnobirthing Practitioner, Certified VBAC Educator, Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in Pregnancy & Postpartum Massage, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Certified Placenta Encapsulator, Hypnotherapist, Aromatherapist, Reiki Practitioner and Life Coach.

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