Pregnancy and baby

When pregnancy goes wrong

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

Media last reviewed: 20/03/2014

Next review due: 20/03/2016

Sadly, some women may have to face a miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy or the death of the baby. Use the links below to read about some of the things that may go wrong. If your pregnancy ends in this way, you will need both information and support.

Talk to the people close to you about how you feel, and to your midwife, doctor or health visitor about what's happened and why. Sometimes it is easier to talk to someone outside your family and friends. There are lots of organisations offering information and support, including Bliss, Cruse Bereavement Care and the Miscarriage Association.

Ectopic pregnancy

This is when a fertilised egg implants outside the womb, usually in a fallopian tube. The fertilised egg can’t develop properly and your health may be at serious risk if the pregnancy continues. The egg has to be removed – this can be through an operation or medicines. The warning signs of an ectopic pregnancy can start soon after a missed period, but occasionally there are no noticeable symptoms.

Find out more about ectopic pregnancy, including symptoms and the treatment that’s available.


A miscarriage is when a pregnancy is lost before 24 weeks of pregnancy. It is thought that around one in five confirmed pregnancies ends this way. Many early miscarriages (before 12 weeks) happen because there is something wrong with the baby. A miscarriage can start like a period, with spotting or bleeding. A later miscarriage may be due to an infection, problems in the placenta, or the cervix being weak and opening too early in the pregnancy.

Find out more about miscarriage, including symptoms, treatment options, your care and coping afterwards.

Losing a baby

In some pregnancies, the baby dies before it's born (known as a stillbirth) or soon after (neonatal death). Around 4,000 babies are stillborn in the UK each year, and a similar number die soon after birth. Losing a baby in this way is a huge shock. 

Read more about stillbirth and neonatal death, and where you can get help and support.    

Termination for foetal abnormality

In some pregnancies, tests will detect a serious abnormality in the baby. You will probably be very shocked if you’re told this diagnosis, and will need to take time to think things through. In this situation, some couples decide to terminate the pregnancy.

Read about termination for foetal abnormality, what is involved, and where you can get help and support.

Page last reviewed: 19/03/2015

Next review due: 19/03/2017


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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

angel chick said on 27 November 2013

Im sorry to hear about ur loses, i was 22 and went to see my gp for a pregnancy test, 2 week later i foned for the results, it was negative didn't think anymore of it, a week later i had all the symptoms of a period blood and back ache which was normal to me, but the pain got so bad i was in tears thought a hot bath would help but it got worse, i went to the toilet after my bath and knew something wasn't right, my brother eventually called nhs 24/7 n they got me to go into hospital bout 2hrs later for check up, that's when found out i misscarried at 8 weeks! I cant understand why my own gp didn't know this! Im still devestated tooday. X

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