Chances of Problem Pregnancy After a Miscarriage

While the odds are low, certain factors can increase risk

pregnant woman standing in doctor's office waiting room
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If you've had a miscarriage, your chances of having problems with your next pregnancy are relatively slim. It is more likely than not that your miscarriage was a one-time event and that future pregnancy will be perfectly normal and full term. In fact, only around one to two percent of women will experience multiple miscarriages. All in all, those are pretty good odds.

Still, it's fair to have lingering doubts and to want to understand the factors that can either increase or decrease your likelihood of a normal pregnancy.

The Facts About Miscarriage

On average, around 15 to 20 percent of known pregnancies result in miscarriage. Of these, 85 percent of will happen during the first trimester. Most studies today suggest that the incidence may be far higher given that miscarriages often go unreported or happen without a woman even knowing she was pregnant.

The good news is at least nearly one in nine women who have had a miscarriage will go on to have a successful pregnancy. And, even if you've experienced loss two or three times, you still have between a 67 percent and 69 percent chance of carrying a pregnancy to term.

All told, recurrent pregnancy loss only occurs around one percent of women. Of these, 50 to 75 percent will have no recognizable cause.

Risk Factors for Miscarriage

If you have had one first-trimester miscarriage without a known cause, you don't face any higher risk for complications in your next pregnancy compared to other women in your age group.

However, there are a number of factors that do place you at higher risk, some of which you can change and others you can't. Among them:

  • Being older than 35, with the risk nearly tripling from 16 to 33 percent by the time you reach 40
  • Smoking tobacco or being exposed to secondhand smoke
  • Drinking alcohol, with five drinks per week nearly quadrupling miscarriage risk

How to Decrease Miscarriage Risk

If you have fears about experiencing a second miscarriage, you may be best served to focus on the risk factors you can readily change. Most of them are "good habits" anyway, some of which you can even pass to your spouse and future child.

Here are the most obvious steps you should take:

  • Quit smoking (do not simply taper down or switch to low-nicotine, low-tar brands)
  • Avoid alcohol, which can hurt your child even if the pregnancy is successful
  • Work with a perinatal nutrition expert get down to a healthy weight
  • speak with your clinician about starting prenatal vitamins
  • Exercise regularly appropriate to your stage of pregnancy, but do not overexercise or engage in extreme physical sports or activities
  • Work with your doctor if you have trouble controlling your diabetes
  • Stay engaged in care and keep all of your appointments with your OB/GYN specialist

A Word From Verywell

Deciding when to try again is a personal choice and one that depends on where you are in the coping process. While some couples will want to wait a while, others prefer to start as soon as possible.

Neither is wrong; just be certain that you and your partner have come fully to terms with your loss before trying again. Couples don't necessarily experience grief in the same way, and it may take one more time to heal than the other (men included).

Sources:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "Repeated Miscarriage." Washington, D.C.; published online May 2016.

Bhattacharya, S. Townend, J.; Shetty, A.; et al. "Does miscarriage in an initial pregnancy lead to adverse obstetric and perinatal outcomes in the next continuing pregnancy?" BJOG. 2008; 115(13);1623-1629.

Edlow, A.; Srinivas, S.; and Elovitz, M. " Second-trimester loss and subsequent pregnancy outcomes: What is the real risk?" Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007; 197(6):581.e1-6.

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