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When pregnancy goes wrong

Sadly, sometimes pregnancy can go wrong. You may have a miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy, birth trauma 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 The Lullaby Trust, Bliss, Miscarriage Association and The Birth Trauma Association.

Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants outside the womb, usually in a fallopian tube. The pregnancy is not viable as the fertilised egg can't develop properly. Also, your health may be at serious risk if the pregnancy continues.

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.


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 anomaly

In some pregnancies, screening tests may find a serious health condition 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 anomaly, what is involved, and where you can get help and support.

Birth trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Sometimes labour or birth can be traumatic and cause PTSD. This may be because of a painful birth or unplanned or emergency treatment.

You may be angry that your birth did not go how you expected and it may make you anxious about having another baby in future.

It’s important to get help for PTSD. For more information visit Mind: birth trauma and postnatal PTSD.

Page last reviewed: 30 April 2024
Next review due: 30 April 2027