Experiencing a miscarriage can be one of the most difficult times in a woman’s life. When a woman is aware that she is having a miscarriage, then the hopes and anticipations that she has developed for the growing fetus inside her, is shattered. Many miscarriages occur for unknown reasons, which can also be difficult for a mother in mourning to accept. It can be difficult to understand why a miscarriage occurs, and also how to move on with your life, if you do experience a miscarriage. Throughout this article, you will find information regarding miscarriages, and the causes, symptoms, and recovery methods of dealing with a miscarriage.
-What is a Miscarriage?
A miscarriage is defined as the “natural death of a fetus before it is able to survive independently from its’ mother”. A miscarriage is also referred to as a pregnancy loss or a spontaneous abortion. Miscarriages are a natural process and are not preventable from anything that the mother can do. Approximately 85% of women who experience a miscarriage can, and will, experience a subsequent healthy pregnancy and birth of a child.
Miscarriages usually occur within the first trimester of pregnancy, but can occur later in pregnancy, as well. An early miscarriage is categorized as a miscarriage that occurs before 12 weeks of pregnancy, while late miscarriages occur up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. A miscarriage is something that occurs in the first two trimesters of a pregnancy. If there is an occurrence in the third trimester, then it is considered a stillbirth, instead of a miscarriage. Approximately 10-20% of all documented pregnancies will end in a miscarriage, and approximately 80% of all miscarriages fall into the early miscarriage categorization.
-What Causes a Miscarriage?
The majority of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities. In fact, statistics show that about 50% of miscarriages are due to chromosomal issues. Problems with the placenta or implantation of the embryo are also common causes of a miscarriage. Sometimes, a woman may have a uterus that has an unusual shape, or she may have fibroids in her uterus, and this can cause a miscarriage, also.
Other risks factors that may contribute to a miscarriage include; a patient who has had a previous miscarriage, advanced age of the mother, diabetes or obesity factors, drug/alcohol use during pregnancy, untreated thyroid disease, trauma, or rare infections of the patient. Often, a woman doesn’t even know she is pregnant yet, when a miscarriage occurs.
Working, and staying active, are not causes of a miscarriage. Sexual intercourse and exercise are also not risk factors of a miscarriage.
-What Are the Symptoms of a Miscarriage?
There are many signs, or symptoms, that can be signals of a miscarriage; however, some of these symptoms may occur during pregnancy and are unrelated to a miscarriage. Vaginal bleeding is one of the main symptoms to watch out for, any time throughout your pregnancy, but especially if you suspect a miscarriage may be occurring. Bleeding can be anything from a very light spotting, or bleeding, to a heavy, almost uncontrollable bleeding. It can also be either a bright, red blood or a dark, brownish discharge from the vagina. Other symptoms may include; abdominal cramping or pain, lower back pain, and expulsion of clots or tissue from your vagina.
A pregnant woman should always check with her healthcare provider if any of these symptoms occur throughout the entire pregnancy. Do not hesitate for any reason, because your safety is most important. Contact your healthcare provider at the first signs of anything out of the ordinary, such as the previously listed symptoms, because the sooner that you can be evaluated, the better the outcome may be for you.
-What Are the Different Types of Miscarriages?
There are several different types of miscarriages, and they are categorized based on the cause of a miscarriage and the stage of pregnancy that the miscarriage occurred. Below is a list of different types of miscarriages and a short description of each type.
-Complete miscarriage: A complete miscarriage is one where all of the pregnancy tissue is completely expelled from the uterus. Symptoms of a complete miscarriage include very heavy vaginal bleeding, extreme abdominal pain, and expulsion of all of the pregnancy tissue. A complete miscarriage can be determined from an ultrasound performed on the patient. Following a complete miscarriage, additional treatment, besides basic recovery, is not required.
-Incomplete miscarriage: An incomplete miscarriage occurs when some, but not all, of the pregnancy tissue is expelled from a woman’s body. The patient will experience heavy vaginal bleeding, along with strong abdominal cramping. The patient’s cervix will dilate during an incomplete miscarriage, and often treatment will be required in order to complete the expulsion of the pregnancy tissue, which may include medication or a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure.
-Missed miscarriage: A missed miscarriage, also known as a silent miscarriage, occurs very early in pregnancy, and is often not diagnosed until a routine check-up when a healthcare provider can not locate the fetus’ heartbeat. The pregnant patient often doesn’t even realize that a miscarriage has occurred, because her body still exhibits signs of pregnancy, and little or no symptoms may occur of the miscarriage. If her body doesn’t naturally expel the pregnancy tissue, then a D&C will most likely ensue for the patient.
-Threatened miscarriage: A threatened miscarriage is just that; a threat. Not all miscarriages that are categorized as a threatened miscarriage will actually end in a miscarriage. In fact, about 50% of all threatened miscarriages will end in a live birth, but it can be a scary time for the patient in the process. Symptoms of a threatened miscarriage include lower back pain, vaginal bleeding, and abdominal cramps. Typically, if the woman’s cervix has begun to dilate, then a miscarriage is likely to occur. If her cervix remains closed, then a live birth is likely to ensue.
-Ectopic miscarriage: An ectopic miscarriage is one where the fetus has implanted somewhere outside of the woman’s uterus, usually within one of the fallopian tubes. The fallopian tubes are located between the uterus and the ovaries in a woman’s body. Often, surgery is required during an ectopic miscarriage, in order to remove the fertilized egg from wherever it is located. The fetus cannot and will not develop appropriately outside of the woman’s uterus.
-Recurrent miscarriage: A recurrent miscarriage is referred to a miscarriage that follows previous ones, usually three or more. Sometimes a patient may have multiple miscarriages in a row, and this can be very disheartening for her. A woman who experiences recurring miscarriages still has a very good chance of a successful pregnancy; however, she will probably be offered a few tests in order to decide the cause of the previous miscarriages. While tests are being performed, and a diagnosis is not yet determined regarding recurrent miscarriages, the patient should use some type of birth control, in order to avoid a pregnancy in the current state. It is estimated by researchers that 1-2% of miscarriages fall under the recurrent miscarriage categorization. Most of these are due to an autoimmune response, researchers believe.
-Blighted Ovum: A blighted ovum, also known as a anembryonic pregnancy, often occurs before the patient even knows that she is pregnant. In these cases, the fetus does implant on the uterine wall; however, it never begins a development stage. The patient may experience light vaginal bleeding, and some abdominal cramping. Once diagnosed, the patient can either wait for a miscarriage to occur naturally, take medication to speed up the process, or a D&C procedure may be performed. The patient and her healthcare provider can determine what method is best for her particular situation.
-Recovery Methods After a Miscarriage:
Your body will need some time to recover after you experience a miscarriage. The amount of recovery time will depend on how far along the pregnancy was at the time of the miscarriage, as well as the type of miscarriage that was experienced. Pregnancy hormones will likely remain within your body for a couple of months following a miscarriage, and normal menstrual periods should begin about 4-6 weeks after a miscarriage, also. Your healthcare professional will guide you as to when you can begin normal physical activities. It is very important to allow your body, and your mind, adequate time to heal and learn to cope with this loss that you have experienced.
When you have experienced a miscarriage, you may find that your mind is flooded with a variety of raw emotions. You may encounter periods of frequent crying, restlessness, lack of energy, trouble sleeping, or even lose your healthy appetite. These emotions should not be ignored, because they may become harder to deal with if you don’t talk about them. Seeking advice from your healthcare professional, a counselor, a family member, or a friend, may be very beneficial for you. Even though you may find that people don’t understand exactly how you feel, it can be helpful and reassuring to you just to have someone that can listen or help you with household duties and daily activities.
After a woman has experienced a miscarriage, and has gone through the physical and emotional recovery process, then most healthcare providers will give the “green light” regarding another attempt at a pregnancy. Often, though, the provider will recommend a wait-time period of approximately 1-3 menstrual cycles before another attempt is made with conceiving again. Your provider may also recommend a treatment of the hormone, progesterone. Progesterone is useful during the implantation process of the fetus, as well as providing initial support of the uterus in the early stages of pregnancy.
-How to Reduce Your Risk of a Miscarriage:
Although most miscarriages are unpreventable, there are some techniques that you can use in order to limit your risks of experiencing a miscarriage. These tips may also help you if you have already had a miscarriage, but plan to become pregnant again in the future.
-Avoid smoking: Smoking can affect the growth of your baby, and has a negative affect on your body, too.
-Avoid drugs and alcohol while pregnant.
-Eat a healthy variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables.
-Take prenatal vitamins or a multi-vitamin, daily.
-Exercise on a regular schedule.
-Maintain a healthy weight.
-Limit caffeine intake.
-Attend all of your medical appointments, because early detection of a problem can be very beneficial.
-If you experience any bleeding or cramping while pregnant, discuss these issues with your healthcare provider immediately.
As you can see from the above tips, taking care of your body is extremely important. Even though there is always a risk of experiencing a miscarriage, it is a good idea to do the things that you can, in order to minimize your risks as much as possible.
Although experiencing a miscarriage can be devastating for an expecting parent, it is unfortunately an event that is not that uncommon. If it happens to you, or to someone you know, it is important that you learn to cope with it, and allow your body the time to heal and recover from the miscarriage. Above all, it doesn’t benefit you to blame yourself for the miscarriage. Remember that a miscarriage is usually a natural death of a fetus that cannot survive independently from the mother. Every person who experiences a miscarriage will have a different experience, both physically and emotionally. Miscarriages are sad and unfortunate, but they are something that you can recover from and grow from, as you work through the healing process and the grieving process.