This film was made from interviews held with parents who have gone through recurrent miscarriage as part of The Baby Loss Series.
If you have experienced 3 or more miscarriages in a row, it is called recurrent miscarriage. This is rare and affects 1% of couples.
Having a miscarriage can be devastating, but having one after another is often a very traumatic experience. If you have had 3 or more miscarriages in row, you should be referred to a specialist unit dedicated to managing recurrent miscarriage. You can have tests and investigations to find a possible reason.
“The two most important things are to not blame yourselves and not to give up hope. Talk about your feelings and emotions with your partner and try to contact others who have experienced what you are going through. You are never alone.”
What causes recurrent miscarriage?
There are many possible causes for recurrent miscarriage. Unfortunately, it is not always possible for doctors to find out why it happens. But try to remember that most couples who have had recurrent miscarriage have a good chance of having a baby in the future.
Blood clotting disorders
Some blood clotting disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and antiphospholipid syndrome can cause ‘sticky blood’ and recurrent miscarriage. These rare disorders of the immune system affect the flow of blood to the placenta and may cause clots that prevent the placenta from functioning properly. This can deprive the baby of essential oxygen and nutrients, which may lead to miscarriage. All women with recurrent miscarriage should be screened before pregnancy for antiphospholipid antibodies. Treatment may involve taking aspirin and heparin therapy, which both help to thin the blood. Research shows that in women who have recurrent miscarriage, their blood has an increased tendency to clot, blocking the flow of nutrients to the baby.
Thyroid problems have been linked to increased risk of pregnancy loss and other pregnancy complications. They are easy to test for with a blood test and often straight forward to treat. It is important to have a healthy thyroid function before getting pregnant.
Thyroid antibodies are little molecules in the bloodstream that can attack the thyroid, causing it to not work properly. Having high levels of thyroid antibodies can increase the risk of miscarriage. It is important to check the thyroid function in women who have antibodies, especially when they become pregnant.
An abnormally-shaped womb can increase your risk of recurrent miscarriage and premature birth. This is usually diagnosed on an ultrasound scan. There are a number of ways to investigate the shape of the uterus and depending on the findings, surgery may be recommended.
In a small number of cases, one or both partners may repeatedly pass on an abnormal chromosome, causing recurrent miscarriage. Depending on your miscarriage history, you and your partner may be offered a blood test to check for chromosomal abnormalities (known as karyotyping). If the tests show a problem, you should be referred to a clinical geneticist for further testing.
If you have a history of late miscarriages and are considered at risk of cervical incompetence or cervical weakness, you may be offered a scan from 14 weeks to assess the length of your cervix. Depending on your pregnancy and medical history and/or scan findings, you may be advised to have a cervical cerclage (cervical stitch) either before or during a pregnancy.
Natural killer cells
Some experts believe that natural killer cells in the uterus play a part in infertility and miscarriage. It is possible to have tests to measure your level of NK cells. However, it is not available on the NHS. Some fertility clinics offer tests, but not all. If they do, you will have to pay for it. This can be expensive and will vary from clinic to clinic. Find out more about tests and investiations.
The risk of miscarriage is highest among couples where the woman is over 35 years of age and the man is over 40.
High number of previous miscarriages
The risk of miscarriage increases after each successive loss (losses one after each other).
Tommy's research into why miscarriage happens
Most parents never find out why their miscarriage happened. Tommy’s believes that parents deserve to be told why their baby has died in pregnancy. As well as ending the cycle of self-blame and guilt, this will improve understanding of the biological processes at work and go towards finding ways to prevent miscarriages not caused by chromosomal abnormalities. This animation shows how we are finding the causes of miscarriage.