13 Milestones for Your Pregnancy After Miscarriage

A Pregnancy Countdown for Anxious Parents

When you're expecting again after a miscarriage, it's normal to feel a bit anxious. You may even feel a lot anxious, especially if you have had multiple miscarriages. Perhaps it might help you calm your nerves to imagine a sort of a pregnancy countdown, where each important milestone leads you one step closer to your healthy baby. Some milestones may have more psychological than medical importance, but with others, your odds of miscarriage actually drop once you've surpassed that point in pregnancy.

A Positive Pregnancy Test

Naturally, a positive home pregnancy test is the first important milestone of a new pregnancy. You may not feel like celebrating just yet after your past experience, but a positive pregnancy test is your ticket back on the roller coaster -- and there's a good chance that you're in for a happier ending this time even, if you feel nervous in the beginning. Make an appointment with your doctor and get ready to begin prenatal care.

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News That Your hCG Levels Are Doubling

If you tested as soon as you missed your period (or before) and you see your doctor right away, your doctor may decide to check your hCG levels to see if they are doubling. In the first few weeks of pregnancy, hCG levels that double every two days are the best indicator of whether the pregnancy appears viable.

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A Heartbeat on the Ultrasound

Once you're about six or seven weeks along, a transvaginal ultrasound should show the baby's heartbeat. (Note that inaccurate dating of the pregnancy can affect when the heartbeat should become visible.)

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Hearing a Heartbeat Via Doppler

Detecting the heartbeat on an ultrasound is one milestone, but by the twelfth week, you should be able to hear your baby's heartbeat on a handheld Doppler. Around that time, your doctor will likely begin checking for it at your prenatal visits. But there's a lot of variation in when the heartbeat will be audible. Some may heart it as early as 8 weeks, while others not until 12 weeks.

If your doctor checks and doesn't find it when you're just 9 or 10 weeks, it may just be too early. If you plan to rent a Doppler for home use, consider waiting until your doctor has found the heartbeat during a prenatal checkup so you know whether it should be audible yet. (Your doctor should sign off on your plans to rent the Doppler anyway.)

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Passing the Week in Which You Miscarried Last Time

Many couples find it a little easier to relax once the new pregnancy has progressed beyond the point when the previous one ended, feeling there is less risk now that history will repeat itself. With some luck, everything will be smooth sailing from here.

Completing the First Trimester

About 80% of all miscarriages occur in the first trimester. So, if everything is looking good at the end of your first three months of pregnancy, chances are good that you'll be holding your baby in six months. If your previous pregnancy loss occurred after the first trimester, you may still be feeling anxious, but finishing the first trimester is nevertheless a good sign and an important step in the direction of having a healthy baby.

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Normal Prenatal Screening Results

You may or may not choose to have standard prenatal screening tests, such as the nuchal translucency scan, the triple screen test, or amniocentesis. If you do have any or all of these tests, normal results are a good sign for what's to come.

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A Normal Mid-pregnancy Ultrasound

Most care providers perform a routine ultrasound around 20 weeks (halfway through the pregnancy). Many parents look forward to finding out the baby's gender at this time, but the ultrasound provides more important information -- it confirms that the baby's organs have formed normally and that there are no clear signs of congenital health problems. In the event that problems are detected, parents can get an idea of how serious they might be and whether there is cause for concern or further diagnostic testing.

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Feeling the Baby Move

In a first pregnancy (or first pregnancy that has progressed normally), moms usually begin to feel movement sometime between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy. Feeling the baby kick is exciting and gives the anxious pregnant mom an extra confirmation that everything seems to be progressing normally. Movement may be sporadic in the early weeks, but near the beginning of the third trimester, your care provider will probably suggest you begin tracking the baby's movement with some form of kick counts.

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Point of Viability

The point of viability is the point at which there would be a chance for survival outside the womb, though far from 100%, if circumstances led to your baby being born premature. Most practitioners would put the point of viability at 23 or 24 weeks. Such an early birth is something to be avoided if at all possible, but some couples feel a little more secure knowing there would be a chance if it came to that -- especially moms considered to have a high-risk pregnancy.

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Finishing the Second Trimester

By 28 weeks, the start of the third trimester, you're well beyond the point of viability. If your pregnancy is progressing normally with no cause for concern, this means there's just three months to go -- time to start planning the baby's nursery and buying baby gear if you haven't already. If your pregnancy is high risk for preterm delivery, every week is an important milestone from here. The odds of a good outcome increase with each passing day.

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37 Weeks

Though you'll probably still be pregnant for at least another week or two, you've now reached the point that your baby wouldn't be considered premature if you gave birth today. Your baby probably wouldn't need special care beyond the level of an average newborn. If you suffered a late loss in your previous pregnancy, depending on the circumstances, your doctor may be talking about induction or a C-section once you've reached 37 weeks.

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If you've had multiple miscarriages, a previous late pregnancy loss, or if you've otherwise been feeling especially anxious throughout your pregnancy, delivery of your healthy baby may be the only pregnancy milestone that matters to you. Seeing your baby appear at the foot of your delivery bed might be the first moment you truly accept in your heart that you're really having a baby. If you're reading this at a point that such a moment feels like a distant dream, take heart. Know that once you get there, everything you're going right now will feel worth it ten times over.

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