Women's premonitions prior to the death of their baby in utero and how they deal with the feeling that their baby may be unwell

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2012 Jan;91(1):28-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0412.2011.01209.x. Epub 2011 Jul 22.


Objective: To identify whether mothers of stillborn babies had had a premonition that their unborn child might not be well and how they dealt with that premonition. Design. A mixed method approach.

Setting: One thousand and thirty-four women answered a web questionnaire.

Sample: Six hundred and fourteen women fulfilled the inclusion criteria of having a stillbirth after the 22nd gestational week and answered questions about premonition.

Methods: Qualitative content analysis was used for the open questions and descriptive statistics for questions with fixed alternatives.

Main outcome measure: The premonition of an unwell unborn baby.

Results: In all, 392 of 614 (64%) of the women had had a premonition that their unborn baby might be unwell; 274 of 614 (70%) contacted their clinic and were invited to come in for a check-up, but by then it was too late because the baby was already dead. A further 88 of 614 (22%) decided to wait until their next routine check-up, believing that the symptoms were part of the normal cycle of pregnancy, and that the fetus would move less towards the end of pregnancy. Thirty women (8%) contacted their clinic, but were told that everything appeared normal without an examination of the baby.

Conclusions: Women need to know that a decrease in fetal movements is an important indicator of their unborn baby's health. Healthcare professionals should not delay an examination if a mother-to-be is worried about her unborn baby's wellbeing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fetal Death*
  • Fetal Movement
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Intuition*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • Stillbirth / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires