ExitCare Patient Information states that treatment for a dead fetus should take place within two weeks. If a dead fetus is left in the mother's uterus for more than two weeks, she may experience infection in the fetal materials and an increase in bleeding. Medscape warns that if a dead fetus remains in utero beyond three to four weeks, the mother can develop problems with blood clotting, known as coagulopathy.
According to ExitCare Patient Information, if the fetus is not removed in a timely manner, the mother can develop disseminated intravascular coagulation. This problem with blood clotting leads to excessive bleeding, which can cause damage to internal organs as well as the muscles. Excessive blood flow can cause ruptures in the organ tissues and blood vessels and create breeding grounds for infection. The mother is at risk for blood loss, with complications from toxins and bacteria. This can be a life-threatening situation. Early diagnosis is the key to prevent such complications. However, once the diagnosis of the fetal demise is confirmed, it does not mean that the doctors can take the fetus out of the uterus right away. The doctors typically wait for the mother to be ready emotionally, before they remove the stillborn.