A legislator who delivered a stillborn baby last year was center stage as the governor signed a bill into law that calls for the state to start collecting data about stillborn babies and their mothers. Representative Janet Peterson of Des Moines says that data will hopefully provide some answers, but until then, she has some advice for pregnant women. Peterson says there’s a misperception that as a pregnancy progresses, the baby doesn’t kick as much. She advises women to count the kicks, and call their doctor if the frequency drops. Peterson delivered a stillborn baby last summer and is now four months pregnant. She saw her doctor yesterday. Peterson says her baby’s heartbeat registered 144 beats per minute and everything seems to be going well, although she admits the last months of this pregnancy will be difficult because of her experience with Grace — that’s the name Peterson gave her stillborn baby girl. Peterson has said she believes her own low blood pressure during sleep may have caused her umbilical cord to wrap around her unborn baby.Peterson says she’s been contacted by dozens of women who believe the same thing, there just hasn’t been enough research data collected to test the theory. She says the new state law that calls for collecting that data puts Iowa at the forefront of such research. Peterson says if the research backs up what she and others believe, it could mean pregnant moms with low blood pressure will be monitored more closely late in their pregnancies. Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson praised Peterson and other mothers of stillborn babies for lobbying for the law.Pederson says people in grief they can choose to respond in two ways: they can withdraw or they can reach out. She says Representative Peterson chose to reach out to other mothers and discovered there was a need to more data to conduct research and find out whether stillbirths can be prevented. Governor Tom Vilsack says his youngest son, Doug, was a “late bloomer” in terms of growth and development and the governor and his wife “have always suspected” it’s because her umbilical cord was wrapped around their son in the womb.
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