Viable v/s Non-Viable Pregnancy – What are They and Top Causes

6 min read

Written by Ambili Kartha

Ambili Kartha

viable v/s non-viable pregnancy

Pregnancy is a miraculous and life-altering process, full of excitement and anticipation for the birth of a healthy child. But not every pregnancy goes as planned; problems might cause an otherwise healthy pregnancy to end in a miscarriage. Do you want to know more about viable v/s non-viable pregnancy?

People and couples going through such difficulties must know the difference between a viable and non-viable pregnancy. This page delves into the definitions, causes, and treatment options for healthy and unhealthy pregnancies. In doing so, we hope to equip folks struggling with pregnancy difficulties with the knowledge and assistance they need. 

In This Article

What is Viable Pregnancy?

In the context of pregnancy, the term “viable pregnancy” refers to a pregnancy in which the growing fetus can survive outside the womb. After the 24th week of gestation, when the fetus has reached a level of development with a fair chance of survival if it is born early, medical practitioners will generally consider a pregnancy viable. The age of the fetal lungs, the development of the organs, and the fetus’s health all play a role in whether or not a pregnancy will be successful.

When Does the Body Determine the Viability of a Pregnancy?

woman thinking

An essential step in providing care for an unborn child is establishing whether or not the pregnancy is viable. Ultrasound imaging and various other diagnostic procedures are the typical means by which medical professionals evaluate the likelihood of a pregnancy’s success.

To determine whether or not a fetus will be viable, the gestational age of the fetus is a critical consideration. Once a fetus reaches the 24th week of development, its odds of surviving outside the womb improve considerably.

[Read : TIFFA Scan in Pregnancy]

What is Non-Viable Pregnancy?

A pregnancy is considered non-viable if it is highly unlikely that the fetus will survive to term. Many people and couples face the tragic reality of this diagnosis. Genetic disorders, fetal structural deformities, and issues with the mother’s health can all lead to pregnancies that may not last to term. That is why it is critical to learn more about viable v/s non-viable pregnancy.

Pregnancies that are not viable may end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the necessity for medical intervention to terminate the pregnancy. Although each case of a non-viable pregnancy is different, healthcare providers must provide comfort, empathy, and reasonable management choices to their patients.

What Factors Cause a Non-Viable Pregnancy?

woman holding abdomen in pain

Many different factors might lead to pregnancy not being viable. The following are some of the more frequent causes

1. Abnormalities in the Genetic Code 

Abnormalities in the genetic code, such as those involving chromosomes, can hinder the fetus from developing typically. It is possible for these abnormalities to emerge of their own accord or to be passed down from one or both parents.

2. Structural Abnormalities

Pregnancies that are not viable may be the result of structural problems in the developing fetus, such as severe heart malformations or anomalies in the neural tube. Doctors and healthcare practitioners can discover these anomalies through standard prenatal screenings or diagnostic procedures.

3. Complications For the Mother’s Health

Specific illnesses affecting the mother’s health might put the unborn child in serious danger. These include factors such as preeclampsia, diabetes that is not under control, or infections. In such circumstances, the pregnancy may be rendered insupportable due to the risk of injury to the mother’s or the unborn child’s health.

Factors Determining Non-Viable Pregnancy

Even though the factors mentioned above play a large part in predicting whether or not a pregnancy will be viable, other elements can have an impact as well, including the following

1. The Age of Gestation

The gestational age at which problems appear can affect whether a pregnancy will succeed. In general, the earlier the pregnancy difficulties arise, the greater the danger of having a pregnancy that does not survive.

2. Degree of Observed Abnormalities

The severity of any genetic or structural abnormalities present in the fetus can impact whether or not the pregnancy will be viable. There is a risk that severe abnormalities will prevent the fetus from developing typically or surviving after birth.

3. Health of the Mother

The mother’s state of health and how well she is doing, in general, can affect the likelihood that a pregnancy will be successful. Complications with the mother’s health can provide an environment detrimental to the fetus’s growth and survival.

Are There Any Management Options For a Non-Viable Pregnancy?

pregnant woman and doctor

When doctors or the body determine that a pregnancy will not result in a viable child, it can be an emotionally tiring time for the expecting couple. In situations like these, medical professionals would typically recommend a few different approaches to patient care based on the specifics of the situation, including the following:

1. Expectant Management

The body sometimes miscarries a pregnancy when it realizes it cannot continue. Providers in these fields may advise “expectant management” in such instances. This strategy entails keeping a close eye on the pregnancy and offering the expecting couple emotional support during the miscarriage process. 

Expectations, possible miscarriage symptoms, and when to seek medical assistance will all be discussed with the patient by the healthcare team. Pregnancy loss can be handled more gently with expectant management, giving people time to grieve and recover emotionally.

[Read : Miscarriage Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention]

2. Medical Intervention

In certain circumstances, managing a pregnancy that is not viable may require the assistance of medical professionals. Inducing a miscarriage or removing a pregnancy one cannot carry to term may require certain medications or surgical techniques. The particular method that one must use depends on various criteria, including the gestational age, the health of the mother, and individual preferences.

3. Medical Treatment

One can expel a non-viable pregnancy from the body with medication that a doctor may prescribe. Doctors frequently utilize this treatment for early pregnancies that cannot survive. Usually, it occurs with the supervision of a healthcare expert or doctor.

4. Procedures Involving Surgery

Doctors may advise you to have a surgical procedure known as dilatation and curettage (D&C) performed. It entails employing suction or curettage to remove the pregnancy that is no longer viable after dilating the cervix. The dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure is another surgical option. This procedure is carried out later in the pregnancy and involves the removal of the non-viable pregnancy by using suction and several surgical instruments.

5. Provide Support Emotionally

It is essential to emphasize the importance of providing emotional support in managing non-viable pregnancies. Counseling services and other resources should be made available by healthcare providers to help people and couples deal with the emotional fallout of a pregnancy that will not last to term.

Expectant parents must know about viable v/s non-viable pregnancy. Non-viable pregnancies can be difficult and upsetting, while viable pregnancies bring the hope of a healthy, developing fetus. People can get the help they need during these trying times if they know what to do when they experience a non-viable pregnancy and what causes it. Always remember that your healthcare provider is there for you, no matter the outcome of your pregnancy, to offer advice, support, and compassion.


1. What Period is Non-Viable Pregnancy?

Conceptions that are predestined to be unsuccessful can terminate at any point. Nevertheless, the probability of unfeasibility rises in the initial phases, notably during the initial three months. Seek guidance and an accurate diagnosis from a physician or another healthcare practitioner.

2. Can I Get Pregnant After a Non-Viable Pregnancy?

Certainly, in case of unsuccessful first pregnancy, it is possible to conceive again. The success of a couple in conceiving depends on two factors: personal health and fertility. It is advisable to consult a medical practitioner if you have any doubts or concerns regarding attempting to conceive again.

Read Also: Getting Pregnant After a Miscarriage

Ambili Kartha,B. Sc Zoology (St Xavier’s college for women)

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