Miscarriage: will it happen again?
If you suffer one miscarriage, do you have an increased chance of losing another baby in pregnancy?
We're so sorry for your loss. A miscarriage is never easy to get over, we know – and we also know that it can leave you afraid of trying for another baby in case it happens again. But what is the chance of suffering a 2nd miscarriage? Is it actually any higher than if you'd never miscarried at all?
What's the 'normal' risk of miscarriage?
Official figures say about 1 in 8 pregnancies end in miscarriage but miscarriage charities and support groups, such as Tommy's and the Miscarriage Association estimate that it's more likely to be about 1 in 4 pregnancies – because some women who miscarry don't report it to their doctor and others will miscarry before they know they're pregnant (and assume they're having a heavy period).
Whichever figure is correct, miscarriage is, sadly, more common than many people realise.
Does the risk of miscarriage rise if you've already miscarried once?
Most experts agree that, if you had an early miscarriage (a miscarriage in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy), your risk of another miscarriage is either the same as it would be if you hadn't a miscarriage or raised by such a small amount that it's statistically negligible.
The official advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) is that "you are not at higher risk of another miscarriage if you have had 1 or 2 early miscarriages. Most miscarriages occur as a one-off event and there is a good chance of having a successful pregnancy in the future."
If you had a late miscarriage (after 14 weeks but before 24 weeks) or a stillbirth (after 24 weeks), your risk of another miscarriage or a pre-term delivery may increase or may be no different, depending on results of tests or investigations your doctor may run. Your doctor should talk to you about your particular situation and your likelihood of having a further, successful pregnancy.
What if I've had more then 1 miscarriage?
Your risk remains the same after 2 miscarriages as it was after 1.
But if you have 3 miscarriages in a row (this is called "recurrent miscarriage"), you have a 4 in 10 risk of having another one, according to RCOG experts. This means that 6 out of 10 women (60%) in this situation will go on to deliver a full-term baby next time.
It's thought that 1 in 100 women loses more than 3 pregnancies in a row. If this happens to you, you should be you should be offered tests to see if there is an underlying cause (or causes).
It's possible that you might be offered these tests after 2 early miscarriages, rather than 3, if you are in your late 30s or 40s or if it has taken you a long time to conceive. It is worth pressing your doctor on this.
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Should we try again straight away or wait?
Your doctor may advise you to wait for a specific period of time but, that aside, there is no right or wrong answer to this one.
Everyone reacts in different ways after losing a baby. You may both find it healing to start trying again; you may not. Sometimes, you may feel ready to try again but your partner doesn't – or vice versa.
It's important to talk to each other about how you feel, and about your fears and your hopes. Acknowledge that it's tough but very common for you to feel out of step with each other emotionally for a while. Take your time and be patient with each other.
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