Miscarriage Statistics Week-By-Week: When Does Miscarriage Risk Drop?

Miscarriage is always a concern for women who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant. According to recent miscarriage statistics, up to 30% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, and up to 75% of conceptions fail to implant. That’s a startling – and frightening – statistic. To make matters worse, many women miscarry before they even realize they’re pregnant. The good news is that the risk of losing the baby decreases as the pregnancy progresses.

Let’s analyze miscarriage risk by week, so you know what to expect.

Miscarriage Risks and Signs By Week

Miscarriage Risk at Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

When you search for week-by-week miscarriage statistics, you may see some sites claiming that the risk of a miscarriage at 1-3 weeks is 75%. That can be terrifying to see as an expecting mother or a woman trying to get pregnant. But this number is misleading.

During weeks 1-3, you’re not actually pregnant yet. Using the 28-day cycle model, week 2 is when ovulation would occur. It’s estimated that implantation fails with one in three eggs, so there’s a higher probability for very early pregnancy loss (chemical pregnancy).

But if the egg implants itself, your risk of having a miscarriage decreases significantly.

Miscarriage Risk at Week 4: 22-75%

The risk of miscarriage is the highest in the early stages of pregnancy. Between 22% and 75% of all healthy women will miscarry between three and four weeks.

The risk of miscarriage at 3 weeks and 4 weeks is so great because implantation may fail. The sperm may fertilize the egg, but if the egg fails to implant itself into the uterus, the pregnancy will end in miscarriage.

While this statistic is concerning, it’s nothing to be concerned about if you’ve already confirmed your pregnancy. At this stage, the egg is already implanted, and the pregnancy is much more likely to go to full-term.

Signs of miscarriage at 3-4 weeks

  • Lower back pain
  • Moderate to severe cramping
  • Spotting that leads to moderate/heavy bleeding
  • Passage of clots
  • Bleeding for an extended period of time (up to 10 days)

It’s important to note that if you’re experiencing these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you had a miscarriage. Some women experience a threatened miscarriage (i.e. the above symptoms) and continue on with their pregnancy. For this reason, it’s important to see a doctor to ensure that you have, indeed, miscarried. If not, progesterone treatments may be administered to reduce the risk of miscarriage later on.

Miscarriage Risk at Week 5: 10%

As you can see, the risk of miscarrying is reduced greatly after the first 3-4 weeks. By week 5, the chances of losing a pregnancy drops to just 10%.

At five weeks, you’re one week past your missed period. At this point, the embryo is just the size of a sesame seed, and made up of three layers: the endoderm, ectoderm and mesoderm. Shortly, these three layers will form all of the baby’s organs. You’re probably experiencing some of the symptoms that go along with early pregnancy, including fatigue, nausea, frequent urination and sore breasts.

The risk of miscarriage is lower than during the first four weeks of pregnancy, so you can breathe a sigh of relief.

To help prevent a miscarriage, make sure that you’re taking good care of yourself and following your doctor’s recommendations. You should also be taking a prenatal vitamin to support a healthy pregnancy.

If you experience any uncomfortable or concerning symptoms, consult with your doctor as soon as possible. Although the risks of miscarriage are lower, your pregnancy is still in a fragile state.

Signs of miscarriage at 5 weeks

  • Moderate to heavy bleeding
  • Heavy cramping
  • Passing of blood clots
  • Heaviness in the abdominal area
  • Cessation of pregnancy symptoms

Even after you’ve miscarried, a home pregnancy test may still register as positive. This is because the hCG levels in your body may still be high. Levels will decrease over the next few days or weeks as the body heals and recovers from the event.

Miscarriage Risk at Week 6, Week 7: 5%

By week 6-7, your baby is starting to develop rapidly. If your pregnancy has progressed this far, the risk of having a miscarriage drops even lower to 5%.

The signs and symptoms of miscarriage at 7 weeks are very similar to the signs of miscarriage at 6 weeks.

Signs of Miscarriage at 6-7 weeks

  • Moderate to heavy bleeding
  • Lower back pain and cramping that may be very severe
  • Passage of clots
  • Extended bleeding for 7-10 days
  • Heaviness in the abdominal area
  • Cessation of pregnancy symptoms

If you suspect that you might have miscarried at the 6-7 week mark, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible to confirm the miscarriage and ensure that the uterus expelled all of the fetal tissue.

Miscarriage Risk at Week 8: 3%

At week 8, you may be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat, which significantly reduces the risk of miscarriage. According to the Miscarriage Association of the UK, the presence of a heartbeat increases the chances of continuing the pregnancy by nearly 98%. The risk continues dropping with each passing week.

At this point, it’s still important to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to support a healthy pregnancy. Follow your doctor’s recommendations on diet, activity level and medications. While the risk of miscarrying is very low, it’s still important to remain vigilant and provide your baby with a healthy, nurturing environment.

Signs of miscarriage at 8 weeks

  • Severe cramping and pain in the lower back
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Passing of clots or what appears to be the embryonic sac
  • Fatigue
  • Cessation of pregnancy symptoms

If you experience any of the above symptoms, see your doctor right away. You may be experiencing a miscarriage or another serious medical condition.

Miscarriage Risk at Week 9: 3%

By 9 weeks, your baby is about one inch long, or the size of a grape. All of the baby’s essential body parts have formed, the heart has finished dividing into four chambers, and valves are starting to form. You may be feeling the full force of morning sickness and your emotions may be running high at this point.

As you inch closer to the 14th week mark (the start of the second trimester), your risk of miscarriage continues to drop.

Signs of Miscarriage at 9 Weeks

  • Cramping and pain in the lower back that may be severe
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Passing of clots or what appears to be the embryonic sac
  • Fatigue
  • Cessation of pregnancy symptoms

Miscarriage Risk at Week 10: 2-3%

The chances of miscarriage are very low at the 10 week mark, but that does not mean complications cannot arise. Only 2-3% of pregnancies end in miscarriage at the 10 week mark, so the odds of continuing your pregnancy are in your favor.

Signs of Miscarriage at 10 Weeks

  • Cramping and lower back pain
  • Heavy bleeding that may start as spotting
  • Passing of clots or what appears to be the embryonic sac
  • Fatigue
  • Cessation of pregnancy symptoms

It becomes even more important and urgent that you visit your doctor if you experience the above symptoms during week 10 of your pregnancy. Symptoms may become even more uncomfortable or severe at this point. Check with your doctor to confirm the miscarriage and ensure that all of the tissue has passed.

Miscarriage Risk at Week 11, Week 12: 2-3%

The chances of miscarrying at 11-12 weeks are reduced even further. At this point, you should be more concerned about supporting your pregnancy and dealing with those uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms you’re experiencing.

Why Do Miscarriages Happen?

If you take a look at miscarriage rates by week, you’ll notice one trend: the risk of miscarriage reduces greatly with each passing week. That’s good news for women who are worried about losing a pregnancy. While miscarriages can and do happen, the odds are in your favor that your pregnancy will continue on to full-term and birth.

That being said, you may be curious why miscarriages happen – especially if you have had one in the past. First, it’s important to remember that just because you experienced a miscarriage in the past, that does not mean you will not go on to have a healthy pregnancy in the future. For most women, a miscarriage happens once and is never experienced again.

There are a few reasons why miscarriages happen.

Chromosome Abnormalities

Chromosome abnormalities account for the majority of miscarriages (at least 60%). Chromosomes are the microscopic structures inside of our cells that carry our genes. We each have 23 pairs of chromosomes, and we get one set from each of our parents. Sometimes, when the egg and sperm meet, one of them is faulty. When this happens, the chromosomes may not be able to line up properly.

When chromosomal abnormalities occur, the pregnancy ends in miscarriage. If multiple miscarriages occur, couples may learn that they have chromosomal abnormalities that prevent pregnancy, but do not affect them.

Other common causes of miscarriage include:

  • Abnormalities in the uterus or cervix
  • Untreated illnesses, included diabetes and thyroid conditions
  • Immunologic disorders
  • Bacterial infection
  • Lifestyle factors, including excessive caffeine intake, alcohol abuse and smoking

5 Common Symptoms of Miscarriage

1. Spotting

  • Spotting is little spots of blood that you will find on your underwear or when you wipe yourself following urinating and it is fairly commonplace in the early stages of pregnancy and most times doesn’t mean anything other than the body adjusting to the new inhabitant. However, it can mean that the baby is in the process of miscarriage and can be one of the early miscarriage symptoms. It is best to wait a day or two to see whether the spotting is pregnancy related or an actual miscarriage. Spotting can be following or include cramps and lower back pain.

2. Abdominal Cramping

  • While also just a symptom of a body preparing itself for the new arrival, mild miscarriage cramps are a sign of miscarriage and often one of the missed miscarriage symptoms. What do miscarriage cramps feel like? Well, very similar to menstrual cramps, affecting the lower back and lower abdominal area. Sometimes you may want to take a muscle relaxant or anti-inflammatory to alleviate the pain, but if you are not sure what is causing it, steer clear of taking any drugs. They may aggravate the situation or if you were not going through a miscarriage, may induce or spur one on.

3. Back Pain

  • Early miscarriage symptoms can be shown by way of back pain, generally the lower back area above the buttocks. Sometimes the entire pelvic region, in and around the hips area, can hurt excessively. As the lower back is closely connected to the abdomen, it will hurt should there be a problem in the uterus. A deep and gentle rub of the lower back can lesson the pain but be sure not to press on the abdomen too harshly. Again, as with all these symptoms, this may not mean that you are going through a miscarriage. It could just mean that you have hurt your back somehow, overstretching, lifting something heavy or your back is sore because of period pains.
  • A light discharge is not uncommon in the beginning stages of pregnancy, or in fact, at anytime in a woman’s life, but a white/pink mucus could mean a problem. It is a combination of blood and mucus from the lining of the uterus, so be sure to have it checked out rather than ignoring it. Sometimes these discharges don’t come with any warning, like an itchy or sore vagina or even any form of pain in the abdominal or uterine area.

5. Tissue or Clot-like Material

  • When the discharge is a thicker, more sinewy material, then you need to worry seriously. A little blood or mucus can be explained but actually tissue or clot-like materialcan be one of the first trimester miscarriage symptoms. The tissue could mean your uterus wall is peeling and the baby has died.

Miscarriage Symptoms in First Trimester

The first trimester is generally when a miscarriage will occur, as this is the most delicate period of your pregnancy. The baby is trying to settle in to its new home and your body is attempting to adjust to the foreign addition and all the other changes that are happening, such as tender breasts, lower back aches and the constant feeling of fatigue.

Many women and couples don’t even tell their closest family and friends about their pregnancy during the first 12 weeks, for fear of losing the baby and having to then tell everyone again what happened. But a pregnancy is a happy occasion and always reason to celebrate. Your close friends and family can be the pillars of strength that you will need should a miscarriage occur.

Let us look at a few typical symptoms of a miscarriage in the first trimester of pregnancy.

1. Mild to Severe Lower Back Pain

  • Obvious signs that you have miscarried in the first trimester would be either mild or severe lower back pain. These can be similar to menstrual cramps but much worse and more intense. You may be tempted to take a drug to release the pain, but it is best not to. Any drugs can have averse affects on the unborn baby and the sensitive goings on internally.

2. Contractions

  • Another sign that falls under natural miscarriage symptoms would be actual true contractions, which can occur anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes apart. You will know them when they start and you need to get to the hospital immediately should this happen. This can also be a result of an incompetent cervix, which we will discuss a little later on in detail.

3. Bleeding

  • A pink, red or brownish type of blood flow, whether mild or hectic, could be miscarriage blood and should be treated with caution. Miscarriage bleeding is where the baby is pulling away from its safe little cocoon and generally signals that you are going through a miscarriage. As period blood can look like this too. Should you experience this in the first 4 to 5 weeks following possible conception, wait a few days to see if it progresses into a normal period cycle or if it is abnormal. If abnormal, it could mean you are just pregnant and the body is adjusting or you have had an early miscarriage.

Late Miscarriage Symptoms

When a miscarriage happens later in the pregnancy, i.e. after 20 to 24 weeks, then we call the signs late miscarriage symptoms. Some do refer to this as a stillbirth but technically that is the term used for death of a baby internally after 24 full weeks of pregnancy. We will cover a little on stillbirths later.

All the normal signs like bleeding, cramping, lower back pain and discharge can occur but a few more common signs that are significant to a late miscarriage are these:

1. No Feelings of Being Pregnant

  • Now, when you are pregnant, you feel pregnant. It is not a feeling you can equate to, if you have never been pregnant before, but you just know it. Be it a maternal, natural sixth sense of sorts or just because you were told what to expect, your body will know when it is pregnant. Well, most times you do. But with all things in this nature, sometimes they are not obvious. So what does feeling pregnant actually feel like, if you didn’t already know? Your breasts feel tender, larger and generally heavier; your ankles may be swollen as will some other parts of your body like the toes, the knee caps and the elbows; you are tired more frequently and find you need to lay down or have a nap, generally in the afternoon; you feel you need to eat smaller meals more often as opposed to 3 large meals a day; and general moving around becomes more labored and uncomfortable.  If these little signs go away then it may be that you have had a miscarriage. If you never experienced these symptoms of pregnancy at all, then you will need to look out for other signs that a possible miscarriage has occurred.

2. No Movement

  • The baby generally starts to move around any time between 16 and 25 weeks of pregnancy. Should you either never feel the baby move and you are far into this period or it stops moving all together, then there may be a chance you have had a late miscarriage. Some babies are more active than others, but as a mother, you will pick up when something doesn’t feel right inside. Always go with your gut instinct.

Incomplete Miscarriage Symptoms

Incomplete or inevitable miscarriages are when the cervix dilates prematurely or effaces. Effacement means the cervix is preparing for delivery of the baby and the baby will drop closer to the cervix, which will become softer and thinner. There may be a rupture and miscarriage pain that will arise as well as miscarriage bleeding. This means you are going through an incomplete miscarriage. This means your doctor needs to assist you in completing the miscarriage or you will be left with remains of the baby and supporting tissue inside of you which can fester and infect your body with dire results.

After Miscarriage Symptoms

Sometimes haemorrhaging may occur after miscarriage and needs to be closely watched and treated. A great deal of blood can be lost this way and can be dangerous for the mother. In the older times, many a mother died from after miscarriage symptoms, mostly the loss of huge amounts of blood. Nowadays, we are able to curb this situation and remedy it quickly.

When you have an early miscarriage, i.e. within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, your body will generally expel all the fetal tissue on its own; however, if it is later than 20 weeks you may need to have a D&C (dilation and curettage) whereby the doctor removes the leftovers, as it were.

Where excessive bleeding follows you can have drugs prescribed to lessen this bleeding. If the bleeding persists still after medication, and you end up with a fever or the chills, then you need to get back to the doctor or hospital. You may have contracted an infection. Infections should never be left unattended. A bad infection can lead to permanent damage to the uterus and cervix, inhibiting you from either becoming pregnant again or carrying a baby full term.

Miscarriage or Period?

As mentioned above, sometimes a miscarriage can be mistaken as a period or vice versa. But it is worth a mention on its own. When you are trying to get pregnant, you are very sensitive to all the changes your body goes through as well as when that four weeks starts to loom when you would normally get your period. So when you see that spotting of blood at around that time, your heart will sink and you will think your period has started and you are not pregnant this time round. However, it could also mean you did become pregnant and have miscarried the baby. This is a very common occurrence and most women, in fact, never even know they miscarried, hence why our stats are not that accurate.

Having said all that, sometimes a little bleeding doesn’t mean either and it is best to wait a few days to see if the bleeding either stops or carries on. A period should last around 5 – 7 days, so waiting that long to see whether it was in fact a period or a miscarriage is fine.   However, if you are having severe abdominal pains or lower back spasms and cramps that you normally wouldn’t have during a period then you should go seek medical attention.

Can a Miscarriage Be Prevented?

In most cases miscarriages cannot be prevented. If chromosomal abnormalities are the cause of the miscarriage, there would have been nothing that either of you could have done to prevent the loss. It simply was not meant to be.

If lifestyle choices or untreated illness was the cause of the pregnancy loss, making appropriate changes can improve your chances of carrying your next baby to full-term.

The reduced chances of miscarriage by week should bring you comfort in knowing that if you’re far enough along to hear the baby’s heartbeat, there’s an excellent chance that your pregnancy will continue.