Perinatal Loss & Miscarriage

Perinatal loss and miscarriage occur when development stops and a fetus is unable to develop normally during pregnancy. Several factors may cause perinatal loss and, in some cases, the cause may be unknown.

If you or someone you love has experienced perinatal loss or miscarriage, it can be a difficult experience, especially if you or your loved one was excited about the possibility of having a baby. Our providers and staff can offer support during this sorrowful time.

Types of Perinatal Loss

Perinatal loss can be separated into two categories, depending on when the loss occurs: miscarriage and stillbirth.


When vaginal bleeding occurs early in pregnancy, it doesn’t always mean you are having a miscarriage. Check with your clinician.

  • A miscarriage occurs before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most occur at or before week 12, and in some cases, women experience a miscarriage before realizing they are pregnant.
  • Miscarriage becomes less likely after the baby’s heartbeat is detected.
  • Symptoms of a miscarriage may include abdominal cramping or pain, vaginal bleeding, and passing clots or tissue from the vagina.
  • In some cases, women may require medical therapy to remove tissue from the uterus; a few may require surgery. Many women will not need treatment for a miscarriage.
  • Most women who suffer miscarriage often go on to have healthy pregnancies.


  • A stillbirth occurs at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy, up until delivery.
  • The most common symptom that a stillbirth may occur is when a woman can no longer feel her baby kick or move. Other symptoms include vaginal bleeding, cramping or pain.
  • If stillbirth occurs before delivery, a provider may induce labor or perform a Cesarean section.
  • Like miscarriage, many women who experience stillbirth can still have healthy pregnancies at another time.

Risk for Perinatal Loss

While the causes for most cases of perinatal loss or miscarriage are unknown, some women have a higher risk of experiencing perinatal loss. Risk factors include:

  • Being age 35 or older
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Previous miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Smoking
  • Some health concerns, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome

Our clinicians can identify and manage risk factors in patients who may experience perinatal loss and help them successfully carry their babies to term.

Receiving Care for Perinatal Loss

Grieving the loss of a baby before and at birth can be a complicated and difficult time for mothers and families. Our clinicians and staff at UK HealthCare, both in our clinic and inpatient settings, provide compassionate and comprehensive care during this time. We offer chaplains and bereavement counselors for mothers and families coping with loss.

We also provide follow-up information that links patients with services available locally and online. Our hospital holds a Walk to Remember and Memorial service annually for those patients experiencing miscarriage or perinatal loss.