Your pregnancy and baby guide

When pregnancy goes wrong

Sadly, sometimes pregnancy can go wrong. Women may have to face a miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy or the death of the baby.

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 must be removed – this can be through an operation or using 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, treatments, and help and support afterwards.

Miscarriage

A miscarriage is when a pregnancy is lost before 24 weeks. They are very common.

Many early miscarriages (before 12 weeks) happen because there is something wrong with the baby. 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.

A miscarriage can start like a period, with spotting or bleeding.

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 (stillbirth) or soon after (neonatal death). Losing a baby in this way is a huge shock.

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

Termination for foetal abnormality

In some pregnancies, screening tests may detect a serious abnormality in the baby. You will probably be very shocked when you are first told 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: 16/03/2018
Next review due: 16/03/2021