The risk of miscarriage is highest during the first trimester. However, by 12 weeks most women are in the clear.
Miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. While no mother ever expects to suffer the loss of a child, an estimated 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage with more than 80 percent of these losses occurring before 12 weeks.
If you’re in your 12th week of pregnancy, you may be wondering what your chances of having a miscarriage currently are. Good news! Your risk of miscarriage is low. By the end of week 12, the risk of miscarriage is below 2.5 percent, according to Easy Baby Life. Your risk is even lower if a live embryo has already been seen on an ultrasound.
What the Experts Say
At 12 weeks of pregnancy, there are a lot of things happening. Your baby is as big as a plum and you’ve nearly completed your first trimester. As your hormones begin to stabilize, you are less likely to experience those pesky pregnancy symptoms.
By 12 weeks, many couples are also ready to share the good news with friends and family. Of course, concerns about miscarriage may still be in the back of your mind. Here’s what some experts have to say about miscarriage in the first trimester.
“Most miscarriages occur during the first trimester (the first 12 weeks), primarily before 10 weeks (because, amazingly, all of the fetal organs have already formed by then). So if something is going to go wrong, it usually goes wrong fairly early.”
– Jean M. Twenge, The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant
“Your personal characteristics and behaviors alter your miscarriage risk. The most important risk factor, as is well known, is the woman’s age: Miscarriage rates climb as women age, especially after the late 30s.”
– Amy Kiefer, Lies, Damned Lies, and Miscarriage Statistics
“Most miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the pregnancy resulting from an error during fertilization, and there’s nothing you can do to avoid this. Having experienced one miscarriage doesn’t mean you’re at increased risk of it happening the next time around. However, if you have experienced two or more consecutive miscarriages in the first trimester or one second trimester miscarriage, you are at a higher risk and should be evaluated for an underlying cause.”
– Ashley Roman, MD, What You Need to Know About Miscarriage Risks
“Sometimes the 12 week ultrasound reveals an ectopic pregnancy, no heartbeat, and no abnormalities or deformities. Ectopic pregnancies require termination. If the baby is alive with serious problems, you will be asked to consider if you want to continue with the pregnancy. A no heart beat reveal, usually in combination with an undeveloped fetus, indicates that the baby is no longer alive.”
– Stephanie Frias, 15 Things to Know About the 12th Week Rule and Miscarriage
“The best time to have a scan is from about 7 weeks’ gestation when it should be possible to see the baby’s heartbeat in a normal pregnancy. But it can be hard to detect a heartbeat in early pregnancy and in those cases it can be hard to know whether the baby has died or not developed at all, or whether it is simply smaller than expected but still developing.”
– Miscarriage Association, Ultrasound Scans
What to Expect at 12 Weeks
By the time you reach 12 weeks of pregnancy, your baby has more than doubled in size. Although your little one is not much more than two inches in length, you may already be starting to show.
At 12 weeks, all of your baby’s body parts are present and the intestines have moved into their proper place in the abdomen. This is also the week when your unborn baby develops the Moro or ‘startle’ reflex.
Causes of Miscarriage
Miscarriage can be an emotionally devastating event that is often caused by things that are out of your control. At least 60 percent of miscarriages are caused by mismatched chromosomes, according to Bryan Cowan, MD of the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
In other instances, miscarriages can be caused by infections, hormone problems, thyroid disease, uncontrolled diabetes, exposure to toxic chemicals or radiation, lupus, or the use of alcohol, cigarettes, or illegal drugs.
Miscarriage Risk Factors
Certain factors can make it more likely for a woman to experience a miscarriage. Smoking is believed to increase the chances of not carrying a baby to term by 30 to 50 percent, according to Huggies.
Age is also a common risk factor. Teens and older women are more likely to miscarry due to chromosomal defects. Certain diseases and disorders may also contribute to miscarriage, such as certain autoimmune and inherited blood clot disorders.
Concerns about miscarriage are natural in early pregnancy. However, you don’t need to worry. Pregnancy risks are generally low, especially in women who are otherwise healthy. Instead of focusing on things you don’t have control over, focus on things you can change, such as your diet. Also talk to your doctor about what you can do to maintain a healthy and happy pregnancy.