Late Term Miscarriage: Causes, Signs, Chances and Aftermath


How late can you have a miscarriage? The loss of a pregnancy is known as a miscarriage until about the 24 week mark. After this, it is known as a stillbirth. The designation is made because of the baby’s ability to survive outside of the womb.

One percent of all miscarriages are late term miscarriages. As a rare event, late miscarriages are usually caused by things outside of your control. Most of these causes cannot be avoided.

A late miscarriage starts to be diagnosed at 12 weeks. Before that, it is a miscarriage or any of the other various names attributed to the event. Regardless of when it happens, a miscarriage is a terrible loss to the parents.

However, a late miscarriage can be harder since the pregnancy has been carried for so long. All the time you have spent may seem pointless, but there is still hope. Most miscarriages are a one time deal, and will never happen again. If there are underlying issues, those may need to be addressed before a successful pregnancy can happen.

What Causes Late Miscarriage?

Sad woman lying on her mom's shoulder crying

Many things can cause a late miscarriage. From issues with the uterus to genetic problems, many reasons a miscarriage can happen are completely random. The following are the majority of the causes for miscarriage.

1. Problems with uterus

  • The uterus can be tilted or divided in two, causing pregnancy problems
  • There can also be fibroids

2. Cervical problems

  • An incompetent cervix is too weak to hold the pregnancy when it reaches a certain point.

3. Blood condition

4. Hormone condition

  • Thyroid problems or diabetes may not cause any problems if they are treated during the pregnancy.

5. Bacterial infection

  • Listeriosis comes from food poisoning
  • Toxoplasmosis can come from uncooked meat or contact with cat feces
  • Both of these are rare and easy to avoid

6. Viral infection

  • Rubella
  • High fevers

7. CVS test

  • A test is done to find out if your baby has a condition like Down Syndrome. There is a one in 50 chance that this procedure will cause pregnancy loss.

8. Vaginal infection

Causes of miscarriage chart

9. Placental problem

10. Structural problems

  • Spina bifida
  • Congenital heart defects

11. Chromosome problems

  • Down
  • Edwards
  • Turner

12. Genetic problems

  • Abnormal genes are more likely to cause early miscarriage, but it is possible to occur in later term pregnancies.
  • Genetic counseling is available for those who have chromosomal or genetic problems with their pregnancies.

[Read more about Causes]

Signs of Late Miscarriage

Blood caused by miscarriage

The signs of a late miscarriage are somewhat different from those of an earlier miscarriage. There are still bleeding and cramping, but an older pregnancy has its own symptoms. These include:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Labor like cramping
  • Water breaking
  • Slow down or cessation of movement
  • There may also be no signs at all, called a silent miscarriage or late missed miscarriage
  • End of pregnancy symptoms

Chances of Late Miscarriage

Since only one in 100 miscarriages is late term, the likelihood of having one are quite low. However, your chances increase with particular circumstances. These miscarriages are more likely to be caused by placental or cervical problems, exposure to toxins, or the health of the mother. This type of miscarriage occurs in only one in 1,000 of all confirmed pregnancies.

The older you are, the higher your chances of something going wrong. However, this does not necessarily mean that it is hopeless. Successful pregnancies are possible for women over 35; there is just a little more chance for problems.

Other risk factors affect the chance of miscarriage. Not being a healthy weight is one of them. Smoking and alcohol use is a huge one, but that should not be done during pregnancy no matter what.

STD’s and fibroids can also increase the risk factor of miscarriage. Chronic diseases, certain medications, and how long it has been since your last pregnancy also increase the risk. As long as you are healthy and taking care of your body, nothing should go wrong because of something you have done.

The Aftermath of Late Miscarriage

Parents are sending their unborn child away to heaven

It can be difficult to move on after a late term miscarriage. There are ways that you can get closure after your baby is delivered. What happens depends on the circumstances of the miscarriage.

You may want to see your baby afterward, and that is possible. That is a very personal decision that should not be made lightly. A post mortem will probably be done, and you will be able to know the results if you want.

Take all of the time you need to decide if you want to have a post mortem done. The sex and cause of miscarriage will be figured out during a post mortem. The information received from the procedure can help you in the future if you want to try to conceive again.

You have the option only to have the placenta examined, and that can tell you information to help you try again as well. After all the tests are over, you are able to say goodbye to your lost little one. Whether it be a funeral or memorial, it will help you to get closure, no matter how upsetting it is.

The chances of finding an apparent cause are not high. This can be frustrating, but the information that you do have can be a comfort.

Overall, a late miscarriage can be a traumatic experience for the expecting parents. There is usually no clear cause, but there are many things that can be possible culprits. With the tests that are now available, there is a way to investigate the cause, finding what was wrong to help the couple move on.

No matter when this happens during a pregnancy, it is still heartbreaking. Finding a way to cope and having loved ones around you are the best ways to move on. It can be hard, but it is possible to move on to have a healthy pregnancy.

[Read more about Miscarriage]


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