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Understanding Miscarriage

Understanding Miscarriage

Miscarriage is distressing and extremely upsetting. Understanding what is happening can help. The experts at Miscariage Support help us understand

4 min read

 Pregnancy –  Expert Article by


Understanding Miscarriage

We don’t really talk about miscarriage much do we?

There are high social expectations and strong cultural beliefs about it being ‘our right’ to choose when to have a baby. We also expect the pregnancy will end in a healthy, normal, live birth.

With the advancement of scanning technology, pregnancies can be confirmed earlier. This means women can see their baby and bonding occurs earlier too. When a miscarriage happens unexpectedly, it can be a shocking end to the dreams and expectations of the woman and her partner.

What Is Miscarriage

What is miscarriage?

Miscarriage in New Zealand is defined as a pregnancy that ends spontaneously before 20 weeks. The baby is not usually being born alive and weighs under 400g. Just knowing 70% of fertilized eggs die before they are 6 days old can help in understanding miscarriage.

As we learn about conception and the critical stages of a baby’s development (e.g. A 3 week old embryo has formed the cells that control the beat of the heart) and how much else can go wrong, we can further appreciate what a little miracle a baby really is.

Miscarriage Affects 1 Every 4 Women

Miscarriage affects one in every four women

The highest risk period is between 4 and 6 weeks. Once 8 or 9 weeks are reached and the baby’s heart beat is seen on a scan there is only a 4% to 5% chance of miscarriage, depending on the speed of the heart-beat. It should be 120 to 160 times per minute. (BMP) The risk then drops to between 5% and 8% and continues to drop as the pregnancy proceeds.

99% of foetal deaths occur in the first 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy (1st trimester), although the actual miscarriage may not happen for some weeks after the baby dies.

The chance of losing a first pregnancy is greater than later ones. 70% of miscarriages are unexplained.

What Happens During Miscarriage

What happens during miscarriage?

The symptoms you experience will depend on the cause of the miscarriage and how advanced the pregnancy is/was so may take hours, days or even weeks to complete.

Usually, the foetus, placenta and blood from the uterus leave the body through the vagina (see ‘the miscarriage process’).  You may discover during a routine scan that there is no heartbeat, or even an empty foetal sac. Usually, by the time bleeding begins your baby has already died. The exception is around the 6 weeks mark when only a small amount of blood is lost, then there is an 80% your baby will be fine (see ‘threatening miscarriage’).

We Are Here For You

Find the support you need on our facebook group

Our website offers plenty of information to those affected by miscarriage, plus their family and friends.

We understand that it is the strength of the bond with your baby, rather than the length of pregnancy, which can determine your grief.

Please make use of the resources on the site, join our private Facebook group for support, or see answers to the many questions you may have.

Expert Profile: Miscarriage Support

Providing information and empathy for women affected by miscarriage

This comprehensive site has plenty of information on miscarriage and it’s emotional aftermath for woman affected by miscarriage and their supports. You can visit the site here.

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