Te tahe me te materoto Miscarriage

Miscarriage is a pregnancy that ends on its own before 20 weeks. It is most likely to happen between 12 to 14 weeks. Miscarriage is relatively common — it happens in up to 1 in 5 pregnancies. Most people who have had a miscarriage will go on to have a successful pregnancy.

Having 3 miscarriages in a row with the same partner is classified as recurrent miscarriages. This happens in about 1 in 100 couples trying to get pregnant. Recurrent miscarriages can be very distressing and emotionally exhausting. 

If you have had 3 miscarriages in a row, see your healthcare provider.

They will arrange tests to look into what is causing the miscarriages. The tests will look for:

  • hormonal problems
  • autoimmune problems (when your immune system starts attacking your own body)
  • genetic problems
  • blood clotting problems
  • problems with the structure of your womb (uterus).

Depending on the results, your healthcare provider may refer you to specialist services for follow-up.

Sometimes, even with all these tests, doctors cannot find what is causing the miscarriages.

Depending on the cause, there are some treatments available. These include taking low-dose aspirin for blood clotting problems or a procedure to help problems with the womb (uterus).

Even if you have had recurrent miscarriages, you may still be able to have a successful pregnancy.

Signs of a miscarriage

Some spotting or light vaginal bleeding is common in the first 3 months of pregnancy. It does not usually mean you are having a miscarriage. You can wait to see your midwife or healthcare provider for up to 48 hours if you have spotting or light bleeding (needing a liner but not a pad). 

Signs that could indicate a miscarriage include:

  • vaginal bleeding, which varies from light spotting to heavy bleeding
  • fluid, blood clots, or tissue passing from your vagina
  • tummy (abdominal) pain, or cramping
  • lower back pain
  • fever and chills (this may indicate an infection).

Contact your midwife, lead maternity carer, or doctor immediately, or go to the emergency department if you:

  • feel dizzy or light-headed
  • are passing large clots, or soaking one or more pads in an hour
  • have tummy pain that does not get better with pain relievers or heat packs
  • feel cold, shivery or unwell, or you think you have a high temperature.

Diagnosing a miscarriage

If you have any signs of a miscarriage, see your midwife or doctor. They will usually arrange an ultrasound scan to check on your pregnancy.

Treating a miscarriage

The type of treatment you need will depend on:

  • how far along your pregnancy was
  • whether you can pass all the pregnancy tissue
  • if you have any complications.

If your body passes all the pregnancy tissue naturally, you may not need any treatment.

If this does not happen or you have complications, you may need tablets or minor surgery to remove the pregnancy tissue.

After a miscarriage

It is important to have a check-up with your midwife, doctor or lead maternity carer 2 to 3 weeks after your miscarriage to make sure that everything is OK.


After a miscarriage it is possible to get an infection in your womb, which will be treated with antibiotics.

You may have an infection if you:

  • feel cold, shivery, or unwell
  • have smelly vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • have a high temperature.

Make sure you see your midwife, doctor or lead maternity carer straight away if you have any of these symptoms.

You can do several things to help prevent an infection.

  • Only use sanitary pads until your next period. Do not use tampons.
  • Do not use a spa or public swimming pool for 10 days. Avoid having a bath, but it is fine to have a shower.
  • Do not put anything in your vagina until bleeding has stopped completely. This includes having sex.

Emotional impact

A miscarriage can have a profound emotional impact on you, and also your partner, friends and family. 

It is normal to feel grief at the loss of a baby, even if early in a pregnancy. You may feel this way immediately after the miscarriage, or it may take several weeks to develop.

Other common feelings include anger, guilt and anxiety. 

It is important to seek help and support from whānau (family), friends, or a healthcare provider. 

Getting help after a miscarriage

Losing a pēpi can be extremely upsetting, but there are places to go for support and information.

Sands New Zealand

A support service for people who have lost a pēpi. You can contact your nearest group through the Sands website.

Sands New Zealand (external link)

Miscarriage Support

Support and information those who grieve for the loss of their babies.

Miscarriage Support (external link)

Videos about miscarriage

Misconceptions is a 10-part web series about miscarriage, including personal stories. 

Misconceptions — YouTube (external link)

Clinical review

This content was written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. It has been adapted for Health Information and Services.

Clinical advisers — HealthInfo (external link)

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