Chemical Pregnancies and Early Miscarriage

4 min read
Chemical Pregnancies and Early Miscarriage

You have the tell-tale signs you are pregnant. Your period is late and your nipples are tender. To confirm your suspicions, you head to the chemist and purchase a pregnancy test. You rush home, anxious for the results, pee on the stick and wait. It’s positive.

After telling your partner and perhaps a select few close friends and family, you make an appointment with your GP to make your pregnancy official. You immediately start making plans for your new addition when suddenly and unexpectedly, you suffer a miscarriage. You’re blindsided.

Chemical Pregnancy and Early Miscarriage

What is a Chemical Pregnancy?

A chemical pregnancy is used to describe when a woman miscarries an immature fertilised egg in very early pregnancy. They have returned a positive pregnancy result however their period has arrived on time and a follow-up test comes back negative. Essentially this occurs because the fertilised egg did not develop any further past the initial chemical stage and into an embryo.

Chemical pregnancies occur before a heartbeat is able to be detected, at around 8 weeks.

Chemical Pregnancy and Early Miscarriage

What Happens When you Miscarry

A miscarriage is a term used to describe a spontaneous abortion up to 20 weeks pregnant. Depending on how far the pregnancy has progressed, the physical differences experienced between miscarrying in the first trimester (up to 12 weeks) will vary greatly from a miscarriage in the second trimester (up to 20 weeks). 80% of confirmed miscarriages occur in the first 12 weeks.

Most women who don’t even realise they were pregnant, just think their period is a bit late.  If you do know you were pregnant, you will possibly experience a bleed that closely resembles that of your monthlies.  You could also experience cramping and spotting.

Friendly Female Doctor's Hands Holding Patient's Hand

Why Did I Miscarry?

Many women will immediately think about what they could have done to prevent the miscarriage and what they could have done differently. A feeling of guilt, among many other emotions, is very common.

It is important to understand that miscarriages are rarely caused by what you did or didn’t do; or what you should or shouldn’t have done. Everyday activities like sexual intercourse do not cause miscarriages. Research has also proven stress does not cause miscarriages. Miscarriages occur because there are developmental problems with either the placenta or the foetus.

Types of Miscarriage

There are various forms of miscarriages depending on the outcome. Here are some of the most common types of miscarriage.

  • Complete Miscarriage: This happens when the uterus and its entire contents are spontaneously aborted. Normally medical treatment is not required but it recommended to confirm with a doctor that the miscarriage is complete
  • Incomplete Miscarriage: This occurs when a miscarriage does not pass all of the pregnancy contents. A dilation and curettage (D&C) is often required to remove any remaining pregnancy tissue.
  • Missed miscarriage: This is used to describe when the baby dies but remains in the uterus. There is normally very little indication of miscarriage and is often detected at routine ultrasounds and examinations. Some women may have some brown vaginal discharge or their pregnancy symptoms may have ceased.

If you are pregnant and suspect you have suffered from a miscarriage, please seek medical treatment immediately.

Supporting You and Your Partner

After a miscarriage, it is normal for parents to have feelings of grief and loss. Each parent will have different emotions at different times, and it is important to recognise this. There is no right or wrong way to feel nor is there an acceptable timeline for dealing with the loss of a baby.

Fathers often feel helpless and may even feel left out of the grieving process. This is because men generally do not open up about their emotions and more often than not, the support from friends and family tends to focus on the mother.

Professional counselling may be an option for couples as long as they respect that they will each have different feelings about the loss. Some couples have found remembering their baby in a special way such as naming them or making a memorial has helped them with the grieving process.

Keep the communication channels open with your partner and together, find ways to help support each other through your grief over the loss of your baby.


If you become concerned about your or anyone else’s health please seek immediate medical attention or go to our health hotlines and website post for further resources 

SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information.  All information provided is correct at time of publication. 


About Author

Kelly Ninyette

Kelly Ninyette, a long time public servant, is currently on maternity leave. Kelly is a blogger, a FIFO wife and a SAHM to her 15 year old step daught...Read Moreer and one year old son. When she is not changing nappies or trying to avoid questions about algebra homework, she can be found in the kitchen cooking up a storm, at her craft desk crafting away or hiding away in the bedroom typing an article or reading a book. Read Less

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