How Common Are Miscarriages After 12 Weeks?
Many people wait until they are 12 weeks along into a pregnancy before announcing their happy news to the world, but just how “safe” is it to announce a pregnancy after 12 weeks?
The famous chef Gordon Ramsay's wife Tana, who is 41, recently had a loss at five months along, prompting bigger conversations about later pregnancy losses.
Commenters shared how they were grateful that the Ramsays had shared their journey because late pregnancy loss is a difficult topic to discuss. “That’s a devastating experience,” wrote one mother. “I went through something similar when I was four months into my first pregnancy, and while the pain dulls, it never goes away completely.”
So just how common is it to lose a baby after that 12-week mark? Here's what you need to know about pregnancy loss after the first trimester.
It's called a stillbirth after 20 weeks. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a pregnancy loss after 20 weeks is actually called a stillbirth instead of a miscarriage. A loss is still defined as a miscarriage up until 20 weeks.
They are more common than you might think. The ACOG reports that there are approximately 25,000 stillbirths every year. In 2004, the overall stillbirth rate in the US was 6.2 per 1,000 births.
Late stillbirths are on the decline. As scary as late stillbirths are, it's somewhat reassuring to know that late stillbirths have actually declined over the past few decades, hopefully due to advanced medical technology and interventions.
They can happen for no reason. Unfortunately, just like unexplained illnesses and deaths can happen outside of the womb, they can happen in the womb. As an OB nurse, I knew of several women who lost babies due to unpreventable tragedies in-utero.
But sometimes, there is a reason. In other cases, especially if a woman has more than one later loss, there may be a medical reason at birth. Some women have undetected blood clotting disorders, for example, or a physical challenge with their uterus that only becomes apparent once the fetus is a bigger size.
There are risk factors. The risk factors for stillbirths include obesity, a non-Hispanic black race (this is attributed to certain medical conditions that African-Americans are more prone to, such as hypertension), advanced maternal age, and smoking.
There are resources. Late pregnancy loss is one of the most difficult experiences a woman or couple can have and finding resources that can help is so important. Everyone will grieve differently, but having someone that knows what loss is like can help you move forward through your own grief journey. If you do experience a loss, resources such as Healing Hearts or First Candle can help.
Do you know of anyone who experienced a stillbirth?