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Miscarriage

3-minute read

The loss of a baby through miscarriage can be very upsetting. A miscarriage generally occurs for reasons outside your control and nothing can be done to prevent or stop it from happening. Most women who have had a miscarriage will go on to have a healthy pregnancy in the future.

A miscarriage is the loss of your baby before 20 weeks of pregnancy. The loss of a baby after 20 weeks is called a stillbirth.

Up to 1 in 5 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks, but many other women miscarry without having realised they are pregnant.

Common signs of miscarriage include:

If you think you are having a miscarriage, see your doctor or go to your local emergency department.

Many women experience vaginal spotting in the first trimester that does not result in pregnancy loss.

Read more on the signs of miscarriage.

Types of miscarriage

There are several types of miscarriage – threatened, inevitable, complete, incomplete or missed. Then there are also other types of pregnancy loss such as ectopic, molar pregnancy and a blighted ovum.

Read more on types of miscarriage.

Causes of miscarriage

Many women wonder if their miscarriage was their fault. In most cases, a miscarriage has nothing to do with anything you have or have not done. There is no evidence that exercising, stress, working or having sex causes a miscarriage.

Most parents do not ever find out the exact cause. However, it is known that miscarriages often happen because the baby fails to develop properly, usually due to a chromosomal abnormality that was spontaneous, not inherited.

Occasionally, miscarriage is caused by:

  • hormonal abnormalities
  • immune system and blood clotting problems
  • medical conditions such as thyroid problems or diabetes
  • severe infections causing high fevers (not common colds)
  • physical problems with your womb or cervix

Risk factors for miscarriage

Women are more likely to have miscarriages if they:

  • are older
  • smoke
  • drink alcohol in the first trimester
  • drink too much caffeine in coffee, tea or energy drinks
  • have had several previous miscarriages

Prevention of miscarriage

Living healthily — no cigarettes, no alcohol and little to no caffeine – can decrease your risk of miscarriage. It’s a good idea to avoid contact with people who have a serious infectious illness when you’re pregnant.

Unfortunately, nothing can be done to prevent or stop a miscarriage once it has begun.

Future pregnancies

Most women who have had a miscarriage will go on to have a successful pregnancy. If you have had one miscarriage, the chance of you miscarrying again stays at 1 in 5 pregnancies.

If you have had recurrent miscarriages (3 or more in a row), your doctor may suggest testing to try and find a specific cause.

More information

Read more about miscarriage:

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436, 7am to midnight (AET) to speak to a maternal child health nurse for advice and emotional support.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2019


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Miscarriage

Miscarriage Despite being common and widespread, miscarriage can be a heartbreaking experience  – with up to one in five pregnancies ending before week 20

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Treatment of miscarriage

Unfortunately, nothing can prevent a miscarriage from happening once it has started. How it is treated will depend on the type of miscarriage.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Types of miscarriage

There are several types of miscarriage – threatened, inevitable, complete, incomplete or missed.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Fathers and miscarriage

A miscarriage can be a time of great sadness for the father as well as the mother.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Signs of miscarriage

Find out what the signs of miscarriage are and advice on what you should do.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Emotional support after miscarriage

It is important to know that there is no right or wrong way to feel after experiencing a miscarriage.

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Your health after a miscarriage

It can take time to recover to full health after a miscarriage.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

What happens after miscarriage

There are a number of things you may need to consider after a miscarriage.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

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This Dads Guide to Pregnancy covers miscarriage, the grief men might experience after miscarriage, and how to support partners after pregnancy loss.

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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

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This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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