13 Milestones for Your Pregnancy After Miscarriage

When you're expecting again after a miscarriage, it's normal to feel a bit anxious—or even extremely anxious, especially if you have had multiple miscarriages. It might help you calm your nerves to imagine a pregnancy countdown, where each important milestone leads you one step closer to your healthy baby.

Some of these milestones will have more psychological than medical significance. With certain milestone moments, your odds of miscarriage will actually drop once you've passed that point in pregnancy.


4 Weeks: A Positive Pregnancy Test

Pregnancy test result
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A positive home pregnancy test is the first important milestone of a new pregnancy. You may not feel like celebrating after your past experience, but a positive pregnancy test is your ticket back on the roller coaster—and there's a good chance that you're in for a happier ending this time. Make an appointment with your doctor and get ready to begin prenatal care.


4 to 6 Weeks: Doubling hCG Levels

If you took a pregnancy test as soon as you missed your period (or before) and you are able to see your doctor right away, they may decide to check your human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone levels to see if they are doubling. In the first few weeks of pregnancy, levels of hCG (also known as the pregnancy hormone) that double every two days are an excellent indicator of whether the pregnancy appears viable.


6 to 7 Weeks: Seeing a Heartbeat

Once you're about six or seven weeks along, transvaginal ultrasound should show the baby's heartbeat. (Note that inaccurate dating of the pregnancy—which is quite common—can affect when the heartbeat becomes visible.)


8 to 12 Weeks: Hearing a Heartbeat

Detecting the heartbeat on ultrasound is one milestone, but by the twelfth week, you should be able to hear your baby's heartbeat on a handheld Doppler as well. Around that time, your doctor will likely begin checking for this at your prenatal visits. But there's a lot of variation in when the heartbeat will be audible. Some may hear it as early as 8 weeks, while others not until 12 weeks.

If your doctor checks and doesn't find it when you're just 9 or 10 weeks, it may just be too early. If you plan to rent a Doppler for home use, consider waiting until your doctor has found the heartbeat during a prenatal checkup so you know whether it should be audible yet. (Discuss any plans to rent a Doppler machine with your doctor—and be aware that using one at home will not be as reliable as when used by professionals.)


Passing the Week of Your Previous Loss

Many couples find it a little easier to relax once the new pregnancy has progressed beyond the point when the previous one ended, feeling there is less risk at that point that history will repeat itself. With some luck, everything will be smooth sailing from there.


12 Weeks: Completing the First Trimester

About 10% of all confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage. However, the vast majority of these occur in the first trimester. So, if everything is looking good at the end of your first three months of pregnancy, chances are good that you'll be holding your baby in six months.

If your previous pregnancy loss occurred after the first trimester, you may still be feeling anxious. Finishing the first trimester is nevertheless a good sign and an important step in the direction of having a healthy baby.


10 to 20 Weeks: Normal Prenatal Screening Results

You may or may not choose to have standard prenatal screening tests, such as the nuchal translucency scan, the triple screen test, or amniocentesis. If you do have any or all of these tests, normal results are a good sign for what's to come.


20 Weeks: A Normal Mid-Pregnancy Ultrasound

Most care providers perform a routine ultrasound at around 20 weeks (halfway through the pregnancy). Many parents look forward to finding out their baby's gender at this time, but the ultrasound provides other important information as well.

This screening confirms that the baby's organs have formed normally and that there are no clear signs of congenital health problems. In the event that problems are detected, parents can get an idea of how serious they might be and whether there is cause for concern or if further diagnostic testing is needed.


18 to 22 Weeks: Feeling the Baby Move

In a first pregnancy (or first pregnancy that has progressed normally), moms usually begin to feel movement sometime between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy. Feeling the baby kick is exciting and gives the anxious pregnant mom an extra confirmation that everything seems to be progressing normally.

Movements may be sporadic in the early weeks, but near the beginning of the third trimester, your care provider will probably suggest you begin tracking the baby's movement with some form of kick counts. Monitoring your baby's daily kicks can be reassuring and help you feel connected to your growing baby.


23 to 24 Weeks: Reaching Viability

The point of viability is the threshold at which there would be a reasonable chance for survival outside the womb if your baby was born prematurely. Most practitioners would put the point of viability at 23 or 24 weeks. Such an early birth is something to be avoided, if at all possible, as even if the baby survives, there is a significant risk of serious, life-long complications for the baby when born this prematurely.

Passing the point of viability may help some couples feel a little more secure in knowing there would be a chance of survival in a premature birth, if it came to that.


28 Weeks: Finishing the Second Trimester

By 28 weeks, the start of the third trimester, you're well beyond the point of viability. If your pregnancy is progressing normally with no cause for concern, this means there are just three months to go—time to start planning the baby's nursery and buying baby gear, if you haven't already.

If your pregnancy is high risk for preterm delivery, every week is an important milestone from here. Take solace in knowing that the odds of a good outcome increase significantly with each passing day.


37 to 40 Weeks: Full Term

Though you'll probably still be pregnant for at least another week or two, you've now reached the point that your baby would no longer be considered premature if you gave birth today. Even at 37 weeks, your baby probably wouldn't need special care beyond the level needed for an average newborn.

If you suffered a late loss in your previous pregnancy, depending on the circumstances, your doctor may recommend having an induction or a c-section once you've reached 37 weeks.


40 Weeks: Delivery

If you've had multiple miscarriages, a previous late pregnancy loss, or if you've otherwise been feeling especially anxious throughout your pregnancy, the delivery of your healthy baby may be the only pregnancy milestone that matters to you. Seeing your baby appear at the foot of your delivery bed might be the first moment you truly accept in your heart that you're really having a baby.

While you're likely to feel more than ready to meet your baby by 40 weeks, know that healthy pregnancies may extend a week or so past your due date—sometimes even to 42 weeks. Depending on your medical needs and personal preference, your doctor may give you delivery options or recommendations, including waiting for labor to happen on its own or getting induced.

A Word From Verywell

If you're reading this at a point that the idea of ever meeting your baby feels like a distant dream, take heart. Know that once you get there, everything you're going through right now will feel worth it ten times over.

1 Source
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  1. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. About pregnancy loss (before 20 weeks of pregnancy).

By Krissi Danielsson
Krissi Danielsson, MD is a doctor of family medicine and an advocate for those who have experienced miscarriage.