Miscarriage: the facts

20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage (the loss of the foetus before 24 weeks). It is an upsetting time and to help you understand what you are going through, read on.

Girl sat on her bed with her knees up and her head resting on them

Make sure you rest after this emotional time.

What causes it?

  • There are many different reasons why a woman might miscarry, though abnormalities in the baby’s development are most common.
  • It is known that factors such as smoking greatly increases the chance of miscarriage. Age is also relative, with the risk rising slightly as the woman gets older (particularly over 35).
  • Other possible causes include infection and diseases (such as diabetes) hormonal imbalance and immune responses.
  • It isn’t fully understood what triggers a miscarriage, but it is thought the more common causes are natural, not the result of having sex, hang gliding or not resting enough. It doesn’t mean you won’t get pregnant again. It doesn’t mean it was your fault.
  • It is believed that up to half of all eggs fertilised in the womb will abort spontaneously (another word for miscarriage) before the woman is even aware that she is pregnant. Known miscarriages most commonly occur between seven and 12 weeks of pregnancy. What are the signs?
  • On its own, light bleeding in early pregnancy which settles without any pain or clotting is called a ‘threatened’ miscarriage and is often nothing to worry about. If you have had a ‘threatened’ miscarriage, you have a good chance of going on to have a normal healthy baby. If the bleeding does not settle, you will probably need to be referred to hospital for a scan to check all is OK.
  • When the foetus dies it is discarded from the uterus. Vaginal bleeding (that lasts between 7 and 10 days) is the most common sign; along with abdominal or lower back pain. If this happens, or you experience stomach pains, see your GP or health visitor immediately. In cases where the miscarriage is incomplete, surgical removal may be necessary.

Should I rest?

A miscarriage can be a traumatic and frightening experience. Physically, a couple of days rest may be advisable, but the emotional impact can continue for some time afterwards.

It’s common for many women – and their partners – to feel a sense of shock, sadness and grief, and find it helps to open up about the situation in order to make sense of what’s happened. If you’d prefer to confide in someone outside of your situation, The Miscarriage Association provides details of local support groups across the UK.

After a miscarriage a woman might experience headaches or have trouble sleeping. She may also experience lack of appetite and fatigue.

Photo of girl on her bed by Shutterstock.

Next Steps

  • Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015