How Common Is Miscarriage after Seeing a Heartbeat?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
A woman may have less than a 10% chance of having a miscarriage after seeing her baby's heartbeat.
A woman may have less than a 10% chance of having a miscarriage after seeing her baby's heartbeat.

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.

Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can cause miscarriages.
Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can cause miscarriages.

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.

Some women are re-vaccinated for measles in order to prevent miscarriages.
Some women are re-vaccinated for measles in order to prevent miscarriages.

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.

Miscarriage after seeing the developing baby's heartbeat is generally uncommon.
Miscarriage after seeing the developing baby's heartbeat is generally uncommon.

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

While miscarriage after seeing a heartbeat is not common, it is still possible.
While miscarriage after seeing a heartbeat is not common, it is still possible.

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. 

Summary

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.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Discussion Comments

anon934740

I've had three miscarriages. One was at eight weeks, one at 13 weeks, and one at six weeks. I think this information is misleading because they definitely happen often after you've seen a heartbeat. It happens all the time after the heartbeat is detected.

anon316866

I had a miscarriage in June and was devastated by it. I started to bleed, was sent to the hospital and then it was confirmed a couple days later when they tested my hcg levels. I have since gone to a fertility doctor and I am six weeks pregnant and due to have my seven week ultrasound on Tuesday and I am terrified.

Seeing all of these posts makes me excited to see a heartbeat, but scared that I could miscarry after. It truly is the most horrible feeling and pain to miscarry. And as someone said above: I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy!

anon316188

I had a miscarriage in my seventh week during my first pregnancy. My hormones were low and there was nothing they could do. It usually happens because the baby was not OK to begin with and nature took its course.

Take care of yourself and watch what you do, but remember that if it happens, there was nothing you could have done to prevent it! Do not feel guilty. It happens.

anon310116

My husband and I went for a 7 week ultrasound and they saw the heart beat at 107 bpm. Then they sat us down and said you will probably miscarry because the baby is not as big as it should be. Go home and the doctor will call you with your options.

After I cried and stayed home from work, I began to get angry that the nurse would put that much stress on us. The doc called later that day and said they are concerned but just come in on Friday for an us and blood. That is tomorrow.

anon305638

I went for an ultrasound four days ago and we heard the heartbeat. Today, I went back for another one and they could not detect the heartbeat.

I am/was 7 weeks, one day along and 40 years old. My fiance and I are devastated. They said call your doctor and walked out. I just can't believe it.

anon296990

I was pregnant with twins. I lost the first baby at six weeks, and then they gave me an ultrasound at eight weeks and the second baby was fine, growing normally and heartbeat was perfect.

I just had another ultrasound two days ago (12 weeks gestation) and they couldn't find a heartbeat. It has been been a horrible experience and I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy.

I am still carrying my baby and am waiting for nature to take its course. I have another doctor's appointment next week to see how the process is going along. I am hoping for one last ultrasound. If my baby is really gone, I at least want the ultrasound picture.

Mae82

Miscarriage can be a very real fear for many mothers and I think a good relationship with your doctor is an excellent way to help you feel more at ease with your pregnancy. While you may have heard the heartbeat, I know you can still feel anxious about your baby's health even with this reassuring sign.

Your doctor will give you plenty of advice, often without you asking for it. If he or she tells you to rest, it is a good idea to follow the doctor's orders exactly.

Also, if you have been given things like prenatal vitamins, make sure you take them as instructed.

Sara007

If you are worried about a miscarriage even after seeing a heartbeat there are some simple things to do to make yourself more comfortable and healthy during your pregnancy.

Diet is a big part of the health of you and your baby, and many suggest that lowering your fat intake is a good idea. Your doctor can help you with a nutrition plan that will make sure you both get everything you need.

Exercise is another thing that can help you. Once again, ask your doctor if walking 30 to 40 minutes is a good plan for you. Keeping your fitness levels up has been shown to improve a mother's help and make pregnancy easier.

Bertie68

I wonder why miscarriages don't usually happen after about the eight week mark, or when the heart begins beating?

I always thought that miscarriages usually happened because something with the fetus or the environment of the fetus or the mother's condition was not working right. If there was something fundamentally wrong, why would the risk of miscarriage go down so much as soon as a heart beat was detected?

lovealot

I had two healthy children with no threat of a miscarriage. I am very grateful for this. I feel very badly for anyone who experiences a miscarriage.

When I had my children, there were no ultra sounds, so it was difficult to monitor the health of the fetus, and to tell when the heart began beating. It seems strange now, but we couldn't even tell the sex of the fetus until birth.

sneakers41

@Crispety - I didn’t know that. I wanted to say that many women experience additional symptoms after a miscarriage. I have a friend who continued to bleed even after she miscarried and was given a prescription for Methergine in order to stop the bleeding.

She also told me that a doctor can tell if you are in danger of having a miscarriage because of the HCG levels in the bloodstream. This is the pregnancy hormone that has to be within a certain range to denote a healthy pregnancy.

A spotting miscarriage is the most common way that a women knows she is having a miscarriage. The symptoms also include strong stomach cramps and lower back pain as well. There may also be additional vaginal fluid because the membranes may have been striped. It is a really sad feeling to have a miscarriage and anyone experiencing one should seek a support group so that you don’t experience the grief alone.

Crispety

@Sunshine31 -Wow, I am so sorry for your sister. That is so sad. I wanted to say that your sister should not blame herself because unfortunately things like this do happen and I am sure that she will be an even better mother as a result of this miscarriage.

A lot of people begin trying after a miscarriage, so I am glad that she did not give up hope and had a baby. I also wanted to add that miscarriage symptoms also develop as a result of some medications. It is really important to let your doctor know all of the medications that you are on because some women have reported miscarriages for taking certain prescription drugs.

I read that the prescription drugs are listed in various letter categories to let the pregnant women know how harmful the drug is on the fetus. The categories range from A to X with X being the most dangerous of all prescription drugs. Your doctor should be able to tell you if it is okay to continue to use your prescription drugs while you are pregnant. It is better to be safe than sorry.

sunshine31

I think that it must be so heartbreaking to have a miscarriage after hearing the heartbeat because you have so much hope regarding the birth of the baby and don’t expect to have a miscarriage.

My sister had a miscarriage in her first trimester and it was devastating because it was her first time being pregnant. She was working as a manager of a retail store and began lifting heavy boxes. I think that this was the reason for her miscarriage.

It was really hard for her because she felt a lot of guilt and often second guessed her actions by blaming herself for the miscarriage. She was out of work for like a week because of her grief. She was able to have a baby a few years later and was overjoyed as you can imagine.

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    • A woman may have less than a 10% chance of having a miscarriage after seeing her baby's heartbeat.
      By: Monkey Business
      A woman may have less than a 10% chance of having a miscarriage after seeing her baby's heartbeat.
    • Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can cause miscarriages.
      By: Elnur
      Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can cause miscarriages.
    • Some women are re-vaccinated for measles in order to prevent miscarriages.
      By: Attila Németh
      Some women are re-vaccinated for measles in order to prevent miscarriages.
    • Miscarriage after seeing the developing baby's heartbeat is generally uncommon.
      By: olesiabilkei
      Miscarriage after seeing the developing baby's heartbeat is generally uncommon.
    • While miscarriage after seeing a heartbeat is not common, it is still possible.
      By: Monkey Business
      While miscarriage after seeing a heartbeat is not common, it is still possible.