Miscarriage is defined as a loss of pregnancy during the first 20 weeks. Unfortunately it is a common experience. To overcome the emotional stress and fears associated with this term, it is a huge step forward to be familiar with causes , symptoms and be able to evaluate the situation objectively. Medical term for miscarriage is “spontaneous abortion”, but you will normally come across them only in medical articles.
How common is miscarriage?
Up to 20 % of recognized pregnancies end with miscarriage. The actual number is likely up to 40-50 % , because miscarriage also occurs when female is in a very early stage of pregnancy and is not yet aware of her condition. Miscarriage is less likely to occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy and 80 % of all losses occur within the first 3 months.
When should we call a doctor?
First of all, feel comfortable to reach your doctor anytime you feel the need to do so. Parents are able to find any kind of information on internet. While it is a very good practice for informing and educating ourselves, it will do no good after noticing any kind of discomfort or symptom. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms during pregnancy, we highly recommend to call/visit a doctor and ask for advice or medical tests and treatment if needed. Common symptoms include:
- Bleeding or spotting
Some females experience light vaginal bleeding or spotting during the early stage of pregnancy. Half of them result with normal pregnancy. Be concerned about bleeding that goes from light to heavy.
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Lower back pain
- Clotted fluid passing from vagina
What causes miscarriage?
Reasons behind miscarriage vary and sometimes can not be identified at all. Common causes include :
- Chromosomal abnormality
The most common reason behind the miscarriage during the first trimester (3 months) is chromosomal abnormality. This means that fetus is not developing normally and has extra or missing chromosomes. Most often, problems are the result of damaged egg or sperm cell,the errors that take place by the time when embryo divides and grows.
- Medical condition of a mother (thyroid disease, uncontrolled diabetes)
- Uterus problems
- Hormone problems
- Implantation failure
The attachment process of the fertilized egg to the uterine lining did not happen properly.
- Wrong lifestyle (alcohol or drug consumption, smoking, eating poorly)
It is a common behaviour to convince our pregnant friends and relatives that they should not be as active as before. However there are several activities that are believed to be harmful by mistake and have nothing to do with miscarriage. Exercising, including jogging and swimming are not harmful for a baby. Working in a healthy atmosphere (no radiation and chemicals) is also totally acceptable.
What increases the chance of miscarriage?
Risk factors include:
The chances of miscarriage rise after the age of 35(20% chance). The number rises even significantly after the age of 40(up to 40%) and reaches as much as 80% by the age of 45.
- Previous miscarriages
Females who have already experienced miscarriages 2 or more times in a row, are more likely to be in risk again. Usually, miscarriage occurs one time only and a lot of females who miscarry, have healthy pregnancies on their next attempts.
While drinking a glass of wine on a very special occasion has not proved to be risky, alcohol intake on regular basis can lead to miscarriage. Smoking and the use of drugs should be eliminated. Caffeine intake should also be as low as possible.
Pregnant females should not be exposed to radiation or harmful chemicals.
- Chronic diseases
Overweight as well as underweight females might be at risk of miscarriage. Future mothers should try to keep their weight in healthy limits.
Consult your doctor before taking any kind of medicine. Some of them are proved to be increasing the chances of miscarriage.
Based on blood and tissue tests, pelvic exam and ultrasound, doctor will check the course of pregnancy. If there is a threat, doctor may advise to have a good rest until the symptoms are gone.
If the medical procedures determined that the embryo died or was never formed, there are several options : female can wait for an expulsion of placenta and pregnancy tissue to happen naturally. If female wants to speed the process up, it is possible to turn to vaginal or oral medication. Another option is a small surgical procedure,during which the surgeon removes the tissue from the inside of the uterus.
Physical recovery may take from several hours to several days and it is possible to get pregnant on the first menstrual cycle after the miscarriage. However, taking into account past experience, it is better to consult with the doctor before trying to conceive. It is essential to be ready – both mentally and physically for the next pregnancy. Attitude can always contribute to the outcome and it is of the greatest importance to never give up on the way to fulfill our dream of parenthood!