Late miscarriage

The emotional impact of a late loss

Most miscarriages happen in the first 12 or 13 weeks of pregnancy. It is much less common to miscarry after 13 weeks, so late miscarriage can be even more of a shock, especially when many women feel that they are safely past any danger period.

“When they told me they couldn’t find a heartbeat, I think my heart stopped too. I was full of the joys of being pregnant, only to feel I had been hit by a train head on.”

The physical experience of late miscarriage can also be particularly distressing. Some women miscarry naturally, sometimes without much warning, and this can be quite shocking and frightening. Others have to have their labour induced before they deliver their baby. Either way, you may have to make very difficult and upsetting decisions about seeing and perhaps holding your baby, about allowing a post-mortem and about what happens to the remains of your baby.

“I had to make decisions beyond my wildest dreams. I was making funeral arrangements when all I wanted to do was to hold the babies in my arms and take them home forever.”

In the days after the birth, you may find that your breasts produce milk, which can add to your distress. You may feel physically and emotionally exhausted.

Marking your loss

Many parents find it important to mark their loss in some way. You can find some suggestions in the section called Marking your loss. Sadly, miscarriages before 24 weeks are not officially recorded by the Registrar, but it may be possible to have some form of certification from the hospital. This would note your baby’s name, if you have given one, the date of the miscarriage and perhaps some other details.

Next steps

You may find it helpful to read our leaflet Late miscarriage: second trimester loss, which contains information about late loss and comments from women who have been through this experience.

In a 40 minute broadcast, radio presenter Susanne Courtney talks very openly about her miscarriage at 15 weeks: from the early days and weeks through to her son’s funeral.

You might also want to visit our forum, where you can share your thoughts and feelings with others who have been through a late loss. And in our Reflections section, Lindsay talks about the loss of her son Lucas at 16 weeks.