Even though miscarriages are quite common, when it happens to you personally it can be a very traumatic experience both emotionally and physically. There are a large number of women with at least one miscarriage while trying to conceive a baby. If you are suffering or have suffered from a miscarriage, you can educate yourself more on the reasons why fetal heartbeat stops. 

It is important to understand when miscarriage occurs, it is most likely nothing you did and you are not at fault. Nature has a way of taking care of things when there is something not right with your baby.

Why Fetal Heartbeat Stops

It is possible that you see a heartbeat on first ultrasound and then in a later ultrasound the heart may stop working. This can even occur around the 10 week mark. Most of the time, the reason why fetal heartbeat stops is never found unless there is a history of reoccurrence. When baby passes away inside the uterus but the cervix remains closed, it is known as a “missed miscarriage”. With this no bleeding starts and the fetus remains. It is also known as a “silent miscarriage.” When this happens, almost nothing wrong is found until weeks after the baby has passed away. There is no more fetal or uterine growth and mom may notice that she no longer has pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, fatigue or sore breasts. It is possible to still have some pregnancy symptoms if the placental continues to function. 

Over time, spotting may begin with the deterioration of the placenta and fetus. The doctor may discover on ultrasound that the fetus is smaller than it should be and does not have a heartbeat or the mother may begin to have bright red bleeding and cramping. If there is no visible heartbeat, a miscarriage is about to occur.

For example: On ultrasound, if the mother is 14 weeks pregnant and the baby passed at 12 weeks, the baby will appear to be about 10 weeks in size. This is because the baby will start to shrink with progression of the pregnancy and the doctor can tell about when the baby passed away.

What's Next?

When a miscarriage occurs at less than 12 weeks gestation, the doctor will offer 3 different methods of treatment:

  • Natural miscarriage
  • Medication to induce labor
  • D&C

If your pregnancy has progressed passed 12 weeks, you can do the following treatments:

  • Medication to induce labor
  • D&C
  • D&E

Do not lose hope: When you hear that your pregnancy may be ending, you may have a very hard time finding acceptance of the loss. It is important to take the time you need to emotionally and physically heal. More often than not the fact that you were able to conceive is very good news that you will be able to become pregnant again and with proper care will almost always be able to carry a pregnancy to term in the future!

Experiences of Other Moms

Case 1: Heartbeat stopped at 19 weeks

“I hadn’t felt my baby move for a while so I went to the doctor to see what was wrong. Turns out my baby’s heartbeat stopped and she had her cord wrapped around her neck cutting off her blood supply. Even though we knew how it happened, it didn’t make it any easier. This was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. I wish you lots of love and send you hugs.”

Case 2: Blood Clotting Disorder

“I was having a perfectly normal pregnancy and my baby was normal. I lost him at around 15 weeks and the doctor diagnosed me with a blood clotting disorder due to blood clots in my placental tissue. After he passed away, I was pregnant for more than a month after he died. My mother told me that she lost a baby at 20 weeks, but then she had me so it is possible to conceive and carry a baby to term after a miscarriage.”

Case 3: Nature’s Way

“I had to come to the realization that my miscarriage was just nature’s way of taking care of something that went wrong with the pregnancy. It wasn’t easy. Miscarriage happens a lot within the beginning 3 months of pregnancy and this is when my baby was forming. When I lost my baby, the most important thing for me was for people to just listen to my feelings and not tell me to think about “next time” or “trying again.” That is a horrible feeling because I was mourning the loss of my baby in the present time and they can’t be replaced with another.”

Possible Causes of Missed Miscarriage

Moms who experience a “missed miscarriage” are always questioning, “Why?” It is important to understand that regardless of the situation at hand, this can happen to anyone at any time. The complex process of conception needs everything to happen in perfect timing and unison for a healthy pregnancy to continue. The egg must be fertilized with sperm, have 23 chromosomes from father and 23 chromosomes from mother, travel down the tubes, go through rapid cell division and then implant into the wall of the uterus. If even one little thing goes awry, the pregnancy may not be able to continue.

One possible cause is that there is no embryo at all. An empty pregnancy sac is known as a blighted ovum. It may even begin to go through cell division and then stop altogether. This is usually found upon first ultrasound where the technician discovers and empty sac or no fetal heartbeat.

Lastly, you may have an infection that affected your pregnancy, including toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, herpes and rubella. This is why it is so important to have a full physical and check-up before you plan to get pregnant. Blood tests can diagnose these infections known as the TORCH panel. They can be treated so that you can have a healthy pregnancy.