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Pregnancy loss is a harsh reality faced by many expecting couples. If you have lost your baby, you know how devastating and painful this loss can be. You might wonder if you'll ever have a baby to hold and call your own. But surviving the emotional impact of pregnancy loss is possible. And many women go on to have successful pregnancies.
As many as 10 to 15 percent of confirmed pregnancies are lost. The true percentage of pregnancy losses might even be higher as many take place before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. Most losses occur very early on — before eight weeks. Pregnancy that ends before 20 weeks is called miscarriage. Miscarriage usually happens because of genetic problems in the fetus. Sometimes, problems with the uterus or cervix might play a role in miscarriage. Health problems, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, might also be a factor.
After 20 weeks, losing a pregnancy is called stillbirth. Stillbirth is much less common. Some reasons stillbirth occur include problems with placenta, genetic problems in the fetus, poor fetal growth, and infections. Almost half of the time, the reason for stillbirth is not known.
After the loss, you might be stunned or shocked. You might be asking, "Why me?" You might feel guilty that you did or didn't do something to cause your pregnancy to end. You might feel cheated and angry. Or you might feel extremely sad as you come to terms with the baby that will never be. These emotions are all normal reactions to loss. With time, you will be able to accept the loss and move on. You will never forget your baby. But you will be able to put this chapter behind you and look forward to life ahead. To help get you through this difficult time, try some of these ideas:
Give yourself plenty of time to heal emotionally. It could take a few months or even a year. Once you and your partner are emotionally ready to try again, confirm with your doctor that you are in good physical health and that your body is ready for pregnancy. Following a miscarriage, most healthy women do not need to wait before trying to conceive again. You might worry that pregnancy loss could happen again. But take heart in knowing that most women who have gone through pregnancy loss go on to have healthy babies.
Content last updated: September 27, 2010.