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. 

{ MORE: What to Expect with Pregnancy After Miscarriage }

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. 

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Image via Flickr/ Yacine Hichri

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. 

{ MORE: Pregnancy Loss: Does the Ache of Miscarriage Ever Really Go Away? }

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?

What do you think?

How Common Are Miscarriages After 12 Weeks?

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

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3 comments

  1. Profile photo of Kimberly Kimberly says:

    I had a stillbirth at 42 weeks. It is unbelievably difficult and not something you ever get over. It just gets easier with time. You also never forget! He was my first child. I have since been blessed with a wonderful baby boy. We never found out the reason for the loss but there is a chance it was due to a blood pressure issue that may have been undiagnosed. In my second pregnancy I had high blood pressure but much of the time that I was being monitored it would show Ina decent range when I was at home or work though I would get spikes. My doctor took me two weeks early because of this. We also found out that I have a genetic blood clotting factor, but they did not find evidence it was related to the loss.

  2. Profile photo of Samantha Samantha says:

    It’s very terrifying! I am having my 1st baby. I’m 36, considered obese, a smoker who is working on it and that’s all of the risk factors. I’m 13 weeks and I already love this wiggle worm soooo… Much. We are upon rough times but I wouldn’t have it any other way. All we can do is pray. Helpful article.

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