How Long Can a Dead Fetus Stay In The Womb? And How It Effects?


Loss of pregnancy during the second trimester, though a rare occurrence compared to pregnancy loss in the initial three months, can be very devastating. Just when you are learning a great deal about your pregnancy, coping with the changes and advancing into a next stage, looking forward to new experiences, your world comes crashing down on you. Many women suffer hugely when they miscarry.

Miscarriage is the loss of fetus which generally occurs in the first trimester, before the adequate development of the embryo. Some women may not even realise that they are pregnant, when the miscarriage happens in the early stages. Fetal demise is the death of baby in the womb, which occurs in the next half of pregnancy.

How Long Can A Dead Fetus Stay In The Mother’s Womb?

How to know?

Most women may not notice any signs of fetal death before 20 weeks of gestation. Reduced fetal activity is a sign to look out for if you are expecting. It may not be possible for you to know the exact time your baby dies. If you do not observe any movement and suspect that the baby has died, an ultrasound examination is conducted to check the fetal heartbeat. If the test shows no sign of heartbeat, then baby is not alive and the doctor explains what needs to be done and the choices you have.

What Happens Next?

It is very likely for women to go into natural labor in three weeks after fetal death. You may be advised by your doctor to wait till the onset of labor naturally or you have the option of undergoing induced labor. If you have no imminent health risk for the birthing to happen immediately, then the doctor advices you against induced labor. Usually, the dead fetus can stay in the womb for a week to ten days without harming you. In certain cases, women who do not realise that their baby is dead, carry the fetus for as long as two months. If you have no health issues, then waiting for natural labor may not have any ill effects. You may take some time to make your decision.

Natural Labor

Once the fetal death has been confirmed, you will need to take the prescribed blood tests after 48 hours. Sometimes, you may feel the body of the baby move in the womb, which happens due to the shifting of fluids and this could be very agonising for you. While you are waiting for labor to begin, the body of the baby starts to change in the womb, which can effect the determination of the exact cause of death.

Induced Labor

There are different ways of performing this, but in most cases medicine is used for induction. Most women opt to go with induced labor right away, because it is unbearable for them to carry on, knowing full well their baby is not alive in the womb. This is also recommended in case if they have an infection, pre-eclampsia or if their water has broken. You maybe given oral tablets or medicine to be inserted into the vagina to induce labor. It may take about 48 hours for the medicine to take effect.

In most cases, loss of pregnancy is mainly related to chromosomal abnormalities which prevent the development of fetus.


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