Hesperian Health Guides

Repeated Miscarriage

In this chapter:

For many people, the problem is not getting pregnant but staying pregnant. Miscarriage—when a pregnancy ends early by itself—is common. Any person may have 1 or 2 miscarriages before they carry a pregnancy to birth.

After 3 or more miscarriages in a row, see a health worker. It may be impossible to know why they happened, but one of these problems might be the cause:

  • genetic problems in the egg or sperm that cause unhealthy early development of the baby.
  • conditions that make it difficult or impossible for the womb to support a pregnancy, such as changes in the menstrual cycle, growths in the womb, and differences in womb shape.
  • illnesses like diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can affect your hormones and interfere with pregnancy.
  • toxic chemicals in your water, workplace, or community.
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No one knows why most miscarriages happen. Do not blame yourself

The warning signs of miscarriage are:
  • brown, red, or pink blood from your vagina.
  • pains or cramping, which can be mild to severe.
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What to do:

Once a miscarriage starts, there is nothing that can be done to stop it. It is safe to wait for the pregnancy tissue to pass on its own if you have been pregnant for 13 weeks or less. You may have strong bleeding and cramping for several weeks. Rest as much as possible and use a pain medicine. If bleeding and cramping continue for more than 4 weeks, if bleeding becomes heavy or pain becomes severe, or if you have signs of infection, go to a hospital immediately.

A clinic or hospital may have medicines or procedures to remove the miscarriage. This is safer for people who have been pregnant for more than 13 weeks. These medicines and procedures are the same as those used for abortion with pills or by suction.

IMPORTANT! If you are in the first 3 months of pregnancy and have severe and increasing pain, feel faint, and have bleeding, you could have a pregnancy in the tube. Go to a hospital immediately.
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 in the future.
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.
  • If your miscarriages always happen after you have been pregnant for 3 months, it may be that the opening to your womb is weakened. This can be treated by sewing the cervix closed temporarily. The stitches will be removed before labor begins. Make sure the doctor has experience with this treatment.

This page was updated:13 Nov 2023