How common is miscarriage?
Some pregnant women and people may worry about having a miscarriage during the early stages of pregnancy. This may be because they know someone who has been through this experience or because it has happened to them.
Everybody hopes for a healthy pregnancy and it’s natural to worry about things going wrong. Unfortunately, there is nothing to you can do that will guarantee a successful pregnancy. But there are some things you can do to try and reduce the risk.
Why do miscarriages happen?
We don’t know why all miscarriages happen, but sometimes there can be underlying reasons for this type of pregnancy loss. But remember that it’s very unlikely that a miscarriage is caused by something you did or didn’t do.
Find out more about the causes of miscarriage.
Is miscarriage common?
Sadly, early miscarriages are common. In the first 3 months, 1 in 4 women will have a miscarriage. After 3 months, the risk of having a miscarriage goes down significantly.
A late miscarriage (after 3 months but before 24 weeks) is much less common. This happens in around 1-2% of pregnancies. After 24 weeks, a baby’s death before or during birth is called a stillbirth. Stillbirth happens in around 1 in every 200 births in England.
This legal distinction between miscarriage and stillbirth is made on the basis that a baby is thought to have a good chance of surviving if they are born alive at 24 weeks. This can be very upsetting for some parents who have a late miscarriage because they may also give birth to their baby and, understandably, feel that it should be called a stillbirth.
We know this terminology can be difficult for some parents, but you can use whichever language you choose to describe your loss.
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that develops outside of the womb, usually in the fallopian tube. It affects around 1 in 90 pregnancies. Unfortunately, it is not possible to save an ectopic pregnancy.
A molar pregnancy is when there's a problem with a fertilised egg, which means a baby and a placenta do not develop the way they should. The general risk of molar pregnancy is around one in 600. This means it is quite rare.
Unfortunately, a molar pregnancy will not be able to survive. It may end on its own (a miscarriage) or if this does not happen, it's usually treated with a procedure to remove the pregnancy.
Can you do anything to avoid miscarriage?
Miscarriages very rarely happen because of something you did or didn’t do and sadly there is nothing you can do to guarentee a healthy pregnancy. But there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of having a miscarriage:
- not smoking (and avoiding secondhand smoke)
- staying active
- eating a healthy, balanced diet
- maintaining a healthy weight in pregnancy
- trying to avoid certain infections during pregnancy, including rubella
- avoiding certain foods in pregnancy
- not drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs in pregnancy
- limiting your caffeine intake before and during pregnancy.
Find out more about being healthy during pregnancy.
Will I miscarry again?
If you have already had a miscarriage, you may be worried that it will happen again in another pregnancy. Try to remember that most people will only have one miscarriage.
About 1 in 100 women experience recurrent miscarriages (3 or more in a row). But even if you have had several miscarriages, it’s important to know that many people still go on to have a successful pregnancy.
Find out more about the risk of miscarrying again.
Is it my fault if I have a miscarriage?
It is important to know that miscarriages very rarely happen because of something you did or didn’t do. So if it does happen, it’s very important not to blame yourself.
Find out more about why did I miscarry and was it my fault?
More information and support
It’s natural to feel emotional sometimes during pregnancy. But if you or your partner are struggling with negative thoughts, don’t hide your feelings or suffer in silence. You are not alone. Tell your GP and midwife how you feel. They will help you access the help you need, which may include support from a specialist mental health maternity team.
Our midwives are also at the end of the phone if you need to talk. You can speak to them free of charge from 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday on 0800 0147 800.
Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. (2016) Eary miscarriage https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/pi-early-miscarriage.pdf
Regan, Lesley (2019) Your pregnancy week by week: What to expect from conception to birth, Penguin Random House, London
Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. (2012) Recurrent and late miscarriage. https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/recurrent-and-late-miscarriage/
NHS. Stillbirth. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stillbirth/ (16 March 2021 Next review due: 16 March 2024)
NHS. Ectopic pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ectopic-pregnancy/treatment/ (Page last reviewed: 27 November 2018 Next review due: 27 November 2021)
Miscarriage Association (2020) Molar pregnancy. https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Molar-Pregnancy-July-2020.pdf
NHS. Molar pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/molar-pregnancy/ (Page last reviewed: 10 September 2020 Next review due: 10 September 2023)
NHS. Miscarriage. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/ (Page last reviewed: 9 March 2022 Next review due: 9 March 2025)