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Grieving Parents Say Stillbirth Is a National Health Crisis

The Short of It

While grieving the Oct. 9 stillbirth of their daughter Savannah Hope, Minnesota parents are desperate to raise awareness about what they call a national health crisis.

The Lowdown

Jill Schumacher had a mostly normal third pregnancy until she was about 33 weeks along. That's when doctors noticed extra amniotic fluid and Savannah's breathing was labored during a routine ultrasound. They told Jill the baby was fine, but she started to worry when she noticed her baby girl wasn't moving as frequently.

"I couldn't feel her and before I was feeling her every kick and every move," she told KARE 11 TV.

At a specialized ultrasound the next day, Savannah didn't have a heartbeat. She was delivered via C-section the following morning.

"Our world came crashing down, and we couldn't do anything; it was over. Just awful, heartbreaking thoughts that she was fine yesterday. What happened in those few hours that caused her to die?" Jill said.

The Schumachers soon found out their daughter's death was due to a hyper-coiled umbilical cord. Jill said Savannah's cord was not examined when doctors first noticed signs of trouble.

"Looking back on it, had I known anything about cord issues or stillborn issues, I think we could have prevented her death," Jill said.

The Upshot

Now, instead of shutting down completely, the parents want to bring the issue of stillbirth to the fore.

"I had to turn the grief into action when you learn 1 in every 160 births ends in stillbirth; it's not as rare as you think it is," explained dad Steve.

The Schumachers are teaming up with the Star Legacy Foundation, which is dedicated to stillbirth research and education, to petition the White House to designate stillbirth as a national health crisis. Their goal is to get funding to study cord issues and to establish screening guidelines for doctors. So far, the petition is gaining traction in all 50 states.

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