Losing a pregnancy can be heartbreaking. Unfortunately, miscarriages are common, with about 1 in 5 pregnancies ending with a loss — usually in the first trimester.
Legally, a miscarriage is the termination of pregnancy that is less than 28 week gestation period. Most hospitals though classify a miscarriage as a pregnancy that was terminated when the gestation period is less than 24 weeks. Thanks to modern-day medical technology, more babies that were born very prematurely have higher chances of survival. A miscarriage usually happens in the first trimester of pregnancy and the chances of it vary from 10% – 25 %.
What causes miscarriage?
The causes of miscarriage vary with the stage of the pregnancy. However, the most common cause during the first trimester is a chromosomal abnormality. This means that there’s something wrong with the genes of either the egg or the sperm, such that the fertilized egg can’t develop properly.
The signs of miscarriage
There are two main symptoms that indicate you may be experiencing a miscarriage:
Abnormal bleeding or spotting: This can be white-pink mucus and brown or bright red bleeding with or without cramps.
Abdominal pain: Low back pain, which could be mild to severe, crampy or persistent, and often worse than normal menstrual cramps.
If you have any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your doctor right away to evaluate whether you could be having a case of miscarriage.
Miscarriages are very common
You should know that miscarriage is very common in pregnancy and could happen to anyone, healthy or not, young or aged, rich or poor. In fact, it often happens even before a woman is aware that she is pregnant. So, even if you are very careful and give your very best to have a low-stress pregnancy, it can happen. And you need to know that it is not your fault, so don’t blame yourself. Here are some the probabilities:
- Week 3: about 30%
- Week 5: about 20%
- Week 8: about 5%
- Week 10: about 2.5%
- Week 14: about 1%
- Week 16: about 0.5%
- Week 19: about 0.1%
- Week 20: about 0.01%
Note: The above probabilities do not include stillbirth, a different type of loss with different sets of causes and risks. Note that stillbirth actually increases later in pregnancy, around the time of birth.
What to do if you have a miscarriage
If you experience a miscarriage, consult with your doctor to see if you need treatment or have any health complications. In addition, you may want to find mental health support — either online by talking to other mothers who went through the same or by talking to friends or family members who have experienced such a loss before.
A miscarriage can be very difficult, and it may take a few weeks or months to recover physically and emotionally.
In some cultures, a baby lost through a miscarriage will be cremated or celebrated. To cope with the sadness or mental stress, you may want to find out more about such rituals or ask your hospital for a possible ceremony. Honoring the unborn child may make it easier for you to say goodbye.
Many doctors encourage women to wait a few months before trying to convince again to improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy. Generally, it is safe to conceive after two or three normal menstrual periods. However, some women have to wait longer due to health complications. It may take time for the uterus to recover. So, it’s best to wait until the body is ready.
How can I prevent miscarriage?
As you already know, the common causes of miscarriages are chromosomal abnormalities, so there’s nothing much you can do to prevent them. However, you can prepare the best environment for conception by doing these:
- Eat and live healthily
- Try to exercise regularly
- Keep your weight to the healthy limit
- Don’t drink and smoke
- Try to manage your stress level in the way you feel comfortable with
- Take folate
You may consult with your doctor to see if there’s anything else you should or can do.