Hesperian Health Guides

Losing a Pregnancy (Miscarriage)

For many couples, the problem is not getting pregnant but staying pregnant. Losing 1 or even 2 pregnancies is common. It can be the body’s way of ending a pregnancy that is too weak to survive.

But if you have lost 3 or more pregnancies, there may be another problem, such as:

  • unhealthy eggs or sperm.
  • a problem with the shape of the womb.
  • growths (fibroids) in the womb.
  • the wrong balance of hormones in your body.
  • infection in the womb or vagina.
  • an illness, such as malaria.
  • toxic chemicals in your water, your community, or where you work.

Miscarriage often happens no matter how careful you are. Do not blame yourself.

The warning signs of miscarriage are:
  • small amounts of brown, red, or pink blood from your vagina.
  • pains or cramping, no matter how small.
More Information
What to do when signs start:

Once a miscarriage starts there is usually not much that can be done to stop it. If you are bleeding slightly, without pain:

  • lie down and rest for 2 or 3 days.
  • do not have sex.

If bleeding continues or becomes heavy, or if you are more than 4 months pregnant, go to a hospital and tell them you are pregnant.

IMPORTANT! If you are in the first 3 months of pregnancy and you have severe pain, feel faint, and have some bleeding, you could have a pregnancy in the tube. Go to a hospital immediately. Be sure to tell them you are pregnant.
a man standing with his hand on the shoulder of a seated woman; both look sad
Losing a pregnancy is common. If it happens to you, it does not mean you cannot have a healthy pregnancy the next time.
Before you try to get pregnant again:
  • Follow the guidelines about treating health problems and practicing good health habits. It is especially important to avoid caffeine, to stop smoking or chewing tobacco, and to stop drinking alcohol or using drugs. These things can all help cause miscarriage.
  • If your miscarriages always happen after you have been pregnant for 3 months, it may be that the opening to your womb is weak. This can sometimes be treated by having a doctor put a small tie around the cervix to keep it closed. Make sure that the doctor has experience giving this treatment. When it is time to give birth, the tie has to be removed.
If you do become pregnant:
  • try not to lift heavy things.
  • try not to have sex for the first 6 to 8 weeks of your pregnancy.
  • rest when you can.

This page was updated:17 Apr 2019