Most miscarriages happen in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, occasionally, the tragedy of miscarriage can occur after this time. This is called a ‘late miscarriage’.
What is ‘late miscarriage’
This is when a miscarriage occurs after the 12th week and before the 24th week. At or after 24 weeks, a loss is considered a premature birth (stillborn) due to the size of the foetus.
Don’t let the worry of late miscarriage loom over your pregnancy – it is very rare indeed if there are no medical reasons for the pregnancy to be regarded as risky in any way. Even including risk groups, late miscarriage only accounts for about a quarter of all miscarriages.
Why does a late miscarriage happen?
Miscarriages later in pregnancy are usually associated either with the placenta or with the health of the mother.
These days, with blood tests, urine samples, better care and advice on necessarily lifestyle changes, and other regular methods of monitoring of each pregnancy, a woman’s health is less of a threat to the unborn baby. When there is an ongoing medical condition that gives cause for concern, the doctor or consultant should have discussed this with the mother in the early weeks of pregnancy.
Accidents, such as taking a fall down stairs, do not tend to bring on miscarriage in healthy pregnancies. However, serious infection, existing tumours and other serious illnesses contracted during pregnancy do need to be treated with urgent care to protect the foetus.
Placental problems are also a worry, uncommon as they are. The placenta feeds the baby throughout pregnancy and should remain intact until the birth at full-term. Occasionally, it can become detached from the fetus too early. However, more common worries are placenta praevia, placental insufficiency, or an incompetent cervix.
Treatment for ‘threatened miscarriage’
If a woman has just experienced some discharge, it is quite likely she has not miscarried. However, a doctor will insist on bed rest. If examination suggests the cervix may have started to open too soon, some treatment is possible to close it back up.
Treatment for late miscarriage
Once a miscarriage has happened it is not possible to save the baby, but medical treatment is urgently needed to make sure the mother is well, and to ensure no longterm damage has been done which may affect another pregnancy.
It is good practice to examine the possible or certain causes for the late miscarriage so that preventative measures can hopefully bring about a safe and healthy full-term pregnancy next time.