Motherhood has always been a cherished word, with many expecting it with bated breath. Yet, there are times when our very happiness is snatched away from us without any warning. The fear of miscarriage has dreaded women for years, making them extra careful during their pregnancy.
Read on as we list down as we give you a comprehensive list of everything you need to know about miscarriage and its signs and symptoms.
What is Miscarriage?
A miscarriage is the loss of a fetus within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. The medical term used for it is spontaneous abortion.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss. Most cases of such cases occur within the first three months of pregnancy.
Studies have also shown that 30 to 50 percent of women lose their fertilized egg even before pregnancy becomes established. The loss of the egg is so early that a woman experiences her period at the expected time without any hiccups.
What are the signs of Miscarriage?
Your body sends out certain warning signals before going through a miscarriage. Awareness about these signals will only make it easier for you to contact your doctor to check is you could be having a miscarriage.
Signs of miscarriage are:
- Mild to severe back pain, which is often worse than normal menstrual cramps
- Weight loss
- White-pink mucus
- True contractions: very painful contractions happening every 5-20 minutes
- Brown or bright red bleeding with or without cramps: While 20 to 30 percent of all pregnancies can experience some bleeding in early pregnancy, 50 percent of those do result in normal pregnancies
- Tissue with clot like material passing from the vagina
- Sudden decrease in signs of pregnancy
What are the causes of Miscarriage?
Miscarriage can happen due to varied reasons and most often it is difficult to find the cause. However, some of the causes of miscarriage include:
- Chromosomal Abnormalities:
During the first trimester, the most common cause of miscarriage is a chromosomal abnormality. This means that the egg or sperm had the wrong count of chromosomes, which held it back from developing normally.
- Age factor:
Having a baby early maybe be an age-old advice, however, it does hold some truth. Older women are more likely to conceive a baby with a chromosomal abnormality and to miscarry as a result. The risk increases exponentially with each child you bear.
- A history of miscarriages:
Women who have suffered two or more miscarriages are more likely than other women to miscarry again.
- Chronic diseases or disorders:
A history of medical conditions often puts a mother at the risk of miscarriage. Some of the conditions that affect pregnancy could be diabetes, certain inherited blood clotting disorders, and autoimmune disorders.
- Uterine or cervical problems:
Certain uterine or cervical problems are known to increase the risk of miscarriage. Severe uterine adhesions (bands of scar tissue), or a weak or abnormally short cervix (known as cervical insufficiency) ups the odds for a miscarriage. Uterine fibroids, on the other hand, may not cause any problem.
- A history of birth defects or genetic problems:
A genetic abnormality within the family, whether your’s or your partner’s, puts you at a higher risk of miscarriage.
Research has shown that certain infections are more prone to cause a miscarriage than others. Some of these infections are Listeria, mumps, rubella, measles, cytomegalovirus, parvovirus, gonorrhea, and HIV among others.
- Smoking, drinking, and using drugs:
The fact that smoking and drinking is bad for you during pregnancy is no new fact. It is something that has been known to us for centuries. Indulging in these activities only increases your chances of miscarriage. Some studies have also shown the relation between high levels of caffeine consumption and an increased risk of miscarriage.
- Medications: Be careful while taking any kind of medication, as many are linked with increased risk of miscarriage. Ask your doctor about the safety of the medications you are taking, even while you’re trying to conceive. This goes for all prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin.
- Environmental toxins: There are many environmental factors that might put you at a risk of miscarriage. Some of these factors might be things like lead, arsenic like chemicals, formaldehyde, benzene, and ethylene oxide; and large doses of radiation or anesthetic gases.
- Paternal factors: While little to nothing is known about the effect of a father’s condition on pregnancy, the probability of miscarriage does rise with the father’s age. Studies have shown that sperms could be damaged by environmental toxins. Fathers who have been exposed to mercury, lead, and industrial chemicals and pesticides, have found themselves at a greater risk of miscarriage.
How to prevent Miscarriage?
Miscarriages occur mostly due to chromosomal abnormalities which are why it is hard to prevent them. However, one vital step you can take is to get as healthy as you can before conceiving to provide a healthy atmosphere for conception to occur.
- Regular exercise is essential
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Be calm and don’t stress yourself
- Keep weight within healthy limits
- Take a daily dose of folic acid
- Do not smoke or drink
- Check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications
- Limit or eliminate caffeine
- Avoid environmental hazards such as radiation, infectious disease, and x-rays
- Avoid contact sports or activities that have risk of injury
Can I get pregnant after a miscarriage?
It is possible to conceive after miscarriage. At least 85% of women who have miscarriages have subsequent normal pregnancies and births. Going through a miscarriage is not equivalent to suffering from a fertility problem. On the other hand, there are women who suffer from repeated miscarriages. Some researchers believe this is related to an autoimmune response.
In case you have had two miscarriages in a row, stop trying to conceive. Use a form of birth control, and ask your healthcare provider to perform diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the miscarriages.
How long should I wait before I can try again?
It is always better to discuss with your doctor before trying again. Some will recommend waiting a certain amount of time (from one menstrual cycle to 3 months) before trying to conceive again. Your doctor might also advise you to go for progesterone treatment. It is a hormone needed for implantation and early support of a pregnancy in the uterus.
How to cope with miscarriage?
Miscarriage is not only a physical hurdle but also an emotional one. While you might be ready to get pregnant again, you may not be emotionally ready yet. Some women find it easier to cope with the situation by immediately turning their attention towards trying for a new pregnancy.
Others, on the other hand, take their time to come to terms with the situation before trying to conceive again. Do what feels right to you and your partner. Call your doctor if you are feeling overwhelmed. They can put in touch with a therapist who can help.
Having a miscarriage is always a difficult time for any mother. The loss of your tiny one almost feels like the loss of a new life. However, it is moments like this that truly tests us. While your loss is great, take the time to examine your feelings, and do what feels right for you and your partner. Don’t push yourself or your partner. Take this time to heal so that next time you can look ahead with a smile on your face and new expectations.