Miscarriage is often defined as a spontaneous loss of the fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy, and happens usually from naturally occurring events other than a medical or surgical abortion. Most pregnancy losses occur before the 12th week of pregnancy. According to Mayo Clinic, about 15 to 20 percent of known pregnancies result in miscarriages, and there may be times when a woman has a miscarriage without knowing that she is pregnant. Research has also shown that chemically or artificially induced pregnancies (such as in-vitro fertilization) have a higher rate of miscarriage than natural pregnancies.
Since miscarriages are not medically or surgically induced, what can cause them? There are several factors that contribute to and can increase the risk of a miscarriage:
Sometimes, the cause of a miscarriage cannot be determined and remains unknown. There are women who may be genetically predisposed to recurring pregnancy loss, so it may be helpful to trace the family tree from both parents' sides to see if that is a hereditary trait.
Most of the time, miscarriage is a process instead of a single event. There are several types of miscarriage your healthcare provider may refer to, each with its own set of signs:
Signs and symptoms of a miscarriage may include:
If you are pregnant and are experiencing these symptoms, be sure to call your healthcare provider or obstetrics doctor immediately.
While there is little that can be done about genetically-related miscarriages, there are still steps a woman can take to minimize all other potential risks for pregnancy loss. Here are some suggestions:
During the pregnancy, be sure to:
When a woman experiences a miscarriage, the main goal of the healthcare provider is to prevent infections, stop bleeding, and expel all tissues to ensure the mother's health. Depending on the type and stage of miscarriage, there are different types of treatment, ranging from simply taking medication to surgery. It is important to monitor and manage the pregnancy loss as directed by the doctor after confirmation.
After a miscarriage, emotional and psychological healing may take more time than physical healing. Do not be afraid to reach out to your loved ones or a hotline for support, and heal at your own pace. If you are feeling symptoms of depression or extreme psychological distress, be sure to contact your doctor for further steps of management. When you are ready to get pregnant again, consult a fertility specialist or your healthcare provider to even better prepare against miscarriage in the future.