How likely is a miscarriage and what can I do to prevent it?

Unfortunately, miscarriages are common. We don’t always know why they happen so it can be difficult to prevent them. However, there are some things you can do to help reduce the risk.

Early miscarriage

1 in 5 women (20%) will have a miscarriage in the first 3 months of pregnancy, for no apparent reason. But most miscarriages are a one-off and there’s a very good chance that your next pregnancy will be successful. You are not at higher risk of another miscarriage if you have had 1 or 2 early miscarriages.

Late and recurrent miscarriage

Pregnancy loss after 3 months of pregnancy but before 24 weeks (known as late miscarriage) are rare. 1–2% pregnancies end in a late miscarriage.

When a miscarriage happens 3 or more times in a row, it is called recurrent miscarriage. This is rare, affecting 1% of couples trying to have a baby.

If you have late or recurrent miscarriages, you’ll be referred for some tests to try to find out why this is happening. If doctors can find a cause, it may be possible to have treatment to help try to prevent any more miscarriages. However, some causes can’t be treated.

It’s not always possible for doctors to find out exactly what causes late or recurrent miscarriage, but this doesn’t mean it will happen again. Most couples who have late or recurrent miscarriages are likely to have a successful pregnancy in the future.

Your doctor will be able to talk to you about your circumstances and your likelihood of it happening again.

Is there anything I can do?

We still don’t always know why miscarriages happen, so this makes it very difficult to prevent them. Sometimes your doctor may be able to work out what happened by doing some tests. You may be able to have treatment to help prevent it happening again. For example, if you have or had a condition, such as an infection.

It is important to know that miscarriages very rarely happen because of something you did or didn’t do. The most common cause of early miscarriages (the most common type of miscarriage) is chromosomal abnormalities in the baby, and these happen by chance.

Miscarriage is common and many women who do everything they can to have a healthy pregnancy still, sadly, lose their baby. But there are some lifestyle choices, such as drinking heavily or smoking during pregnancy, that can increase the risk of miscarriage. 

There are also some things that you can do before you try for baby and during pregnancy to help give you the best chance of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Find out more about preventing miscarriage.

At Tommy's we fund research into the causes and prevention of miscarriage, and we also have miscarriage statistics.

Sources

NICE (2019). Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: diagnosis and initial management National Institute for health and care excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng126

Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (2016) Early miscarriage https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/pi-early-miscarriage.pdf

Clinical Knowledge Summaries. Miscarriage https://cks.nice.org.uk/miscarriage (Page last reviewed: May 2018 Next review due: December 2023)

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    Last reviewed on January 20th, 2020. Next review date January 20th, 2023.

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