It is not common for a woman to have a miscarriage after seeing a heartbeat in the developing baby. In fact, a woman may have less than a 10% chance of having a miscarriage after this point. It is important to note, however, that this level of chance is only when the heart rate of the fetus is healthy. If the heart rate is considerably lower than normal, a miscarriage may be more likely. Additionally, the presence of a visible heartbeat does not mean a woman will not have a miscarriage; some women do miscarry, even after reaching this pregnancy milestone.
In most pregnancies, the sighting of the fetal heartbeat is an important milestone. In fact, this may be one of the first signs that a pregnancy is viable, which means there are no obvious signs of approaching pregnancy loss. Often, a developing fetus's heartbeat can be seen before it can be heard in the office of a medical professional. As such, many healthcare providers recommend ultrasounds at around the eighth week of pregnancy in order to check on the development of the baby. This is particularly true when problems are expected or the pregnant woman is over the age of 35, which is often considered advanced maternal age.
Since miscarriage after this point is fairly uncommon, some women feel more comfortable about announcing their pregnancies once they have seen the fetal heartbeat. Some women may even become more emotionally attached to their developing babies at this point, as seeing the heartbeat may make the pregnancy feel more real. This may be especially true for first-time mothers, women who've had previous miscarriages, and those who aren’t experiencing the typical symptoms of pregnancy.
While miscarriage after seeing a heartbeat isn’t common, women should be aware that it is still possible. For example, a fetus with a heart rate below the normal range is more likely to miscarry. Some also occur when the developing baby’s heart rate was well within the normal range, if there is a chromosomal abnormality in the baby, a maternal infection or health condition, a hormonal imbalance in the mother, or a structural problem with the uterus. In some cases, however, medical professionals cannot say sure certain why such a miscarriage might occur.
Statistics of Miscarriage After Heartbeat
Although miscarriages are uncommon, they are more likely to happen within the first trimester. Miscarriages have happened in the second and third trimesters: however, underlying reasons representing the loss are present.
The heart is one of the first organs to develop in a fetus, and you'll hear a heartbeat four to six weeks after conception. This is why, as mentioned, the risk of miscarriage drops to 10% after hearing a heartbeat.
Signs of a Miscarriage
Early miscarriages are often missed because some women may not know they are pregnant. Instead, they assume their period was late and carry on. Though there are different types of miscarriages, such as:
- Chemical pregnancy - When the embryo didn't or hasn't appropriately attached. Usually, very early, a test won't show hCG.
- Incomplete miscarriage - When your body has not gotten rid of all the pregnancy tissue.
- Threatened miscarriage - the signs of miscarriage are there, but your baby remains inside your womb, and the cervix stays closed.
- Blighted ovum - An egg attached to the uterus wall, but no embryo was developed.
Too often, women experience threatened miscarriages, but until there is no detected heartbeat, your doctor will advise you to take it easy and eat well. Signs of a miscarriage include:
- Heavy bleeding
- Non-existent pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness
- Labor-like pain in the abdomen or lower back
- Light pink discharge
- Contractions 5-20 minutes apart
- Non-existent fetal movement (second and third trimester)
Reasons for a Miscarriage
The leading cause of miscarriage is chromosomal problems and fetal development issues. However, the likelihood of those problems occurring is less than 10% and even lower when you hear and see a heartbeat.
Other reasons for miscarriage include:
Medical conditions such as ectopic pregnancies may end in miscarriages. Though often, a miscarriage happens when there are placental complications such as insufficiency of hormones being passed to the fetus or the placenta cannot block out harmful toxins.
There may also be complications with the womb itself, such as a heart-shaped womb (bicornate womb) which increases the chances of experiencing a miscarriage in the second trimester.
Ensure that you see your prenatal doctor regularly to prepare for pregnancy complications or to get advice on having a successful pregnancy if there is a womb or placenta issue diagnosis.
History of Miscarriage
The unfortunate thing about miscarriages is that after you have one, your chances for another miscarriage increase. For example, the second pregnancy after a miscarriage goes up to 20% for a second miscarriage. The third pregnancy after miscarriage increases again by 8% more. After three or more, it becomes almost 50% that you'll have a successful pregnancy.
Tips for Avoiding Miscarriage After Heartbeat
While there are many reasons for a miscarriage, there are also things you can do to prevent miscarriages - even if there is a history of miscarriage. Although most miscarriages stem from genetic or chromosomal abnormalities, the chance is very low. Speaking with your doctor before, during, and after will help chances of developing a healthy fetus and newborn.
Take Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are extremely important during pregnancy. Folic acid is crucial to the development of the fetus and should be taken at least 2 months before getting pregnant. Although if the pregnancy was unplanned, folic acid is essential the second symptoms start.
Don’t Miss Your Prenatal Doctors’ Appointment
A prenatal doctor is there to find complications (if any) and guide parents through what to expect during the next nine months of pregnancy. An OBGYN will take care of any concerns, get proper tests, and ensure the health and safety of both women and babies.
Keep a Healthy Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise are one of the most important things to keep in mind during pregnancy. A growing fetus will drain a ton of energy from its mother. Therefore it's extra important to eat small and wholesome snacks throughout the day, as well as a hearty breakfast and dinner.
Exercising during the second and last trimester is vital to strengthen a womens' cervix and prepare for childbirth. Light exercise such as walking and stretching or light yoga is essential in the first trimester to curb pregnancy symptoms.
A heart is the first thing a developing fetus grows and usually happens six weeks into pregnancy. So, how common is a miscarriage after seeing a heartbeat? The chance of miscarrying after a heartbeat is lower than 10%.
If there is ever a concern for miscarriage or signs showing a miscarriage are present, it is essential to rush down to a clinic or hospital immediately.