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What is a miscarriage?

A miscarriage or we can say a spontaneous abortion. A miscarriage is defined as the loss of the fetus before weeks of pregnancy. It usually happens during the first trimester (the first three months of pregnancy).

There are various medical reasons for miscarriages, many of these are not in control of the person. But knowing the risk factors, causes, and signs you can understand the event and get the treatment and support you may need.

Signs of miscarriage

The symptoms and signs of miscarriage may vary, it depends on the stage of pregnancy. In some cases, the miscarriage happens so quickly that you may not even know that you were pregnant before the miscarriage.

The signs and symptoms of miscarriage may include:

  • Heavy spotting
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Tissue (fluid) discharge from the vagina
  • Severe abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mild to severe back pain

Causes of miscarriage

There are some things that may increase the risk of miscarriage, generally, it isn’t a result of something that you did or didn’t do. In case you are having difficulty in maintaining a pregnancy, your doctor mat check for the causes of miscarriage.

During pregnancy, the developing fetus gets the nutrients and the hormones from your body that help the fetus to grow. When the fetus doesn’t grow properly, it will miscarry in the first trimester. The factors that can cause a miscarriage are different and includes:

Genetic and chromosomal issue:

The chromosome contains the genes and in a developing fetus, one set of chromosomes is contributed by the mother and another by the father.

There are some examples of chromosomal abnormalities include:

–              Intrauterine Fetal demise – The embryo forms but stops growing before you see or feel the symptoms of pregnancy loss.

–              Blighted ovum – In this case, no embryo is formed at all.

–              Molar pregnancy – No fetal development occurs because both of the sets of chromosomes come from the father.

–              Partial molar pregnancy – The mother’s chromosomes remain, but there are two sets of chromosomes provided by the father.

There are some errors that can also occur randomly when the cells of the embryo divide or there is a damaged ovum or sperm. The miscarriage can also be a result of problems related to the placenta.

Underlying conditions and lifestyle habits

In the development of the fetus, there are various underlying health conditions and lifestyle habits are involved. Maintaining your normal and healthy lifestyle doesn’t cause miscarriage, however, exercise and sexual intercourse also do not cause miscarriage. Working also doesn’t affect the fetus either, unless you are exposed to ionizing radiation and harmful chemicals.

Conditions that interfere the fetal development include:

  • Malnutrition or poor diet
  • Fever during pregnancy
  • Drugs and alcohol intake
  • Advanced maternal age
  • Untreated thyroid disease
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Infections
  • Trauma
  • Obesity
  • Cervix problems
  • Abnormally shaped uterus
  • Food poisoning
  • Severe high blood pressure
  • Certain medications

Always take advice from your doctor before seeking any medications during your pregnancy.

Miscarriage or periods

Most of the time a miscarriage can happen before you even know that you are pregnant. Additionally, as with your menstrual cycle, some of the symptoms of a miscarriage include abdominal cramping and bleeding.

So, the question arises how will you know that you are having a period or miscarriage.

When you are trying to distinguish between a miscarriage and a period, there are several factors that need to be considered:

Symptoms – Severe abdominal and back pain, as well as passing fluids and large clots, may indicate a miscarriage.

Time – Miscarriage happens in very early pregnancy can be mistaken for a period. However, this is unlikely after eight weeks into a pregnancy.

Duration of symptoms – The symptoms of a miscarriage last longer than periods and typically get worsen than your periods.

Miscarriage rate by week

Most of the miscarriages happen within the first trimester (12 weeks) of the pregnancy. The higher risk of a miscarriage occurs in the early stages of the pregnancy.

Miscarriage risks

There are natural and unpreventable reasons for most miscarriages. However, certain risks factors can increase the chances of miscarriage, which include:

  • Body trauma
  • Exposure to ionizing radiation and harmful chemicals
  • Drug use
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Excessive caffeine consumption
  • Smoking
  • Two or more consecutive miscarriages
  • Being overweight and underweight
  • Chronic diabetes and other uncontrolled conditions
  • Problems with cervix or uterus

Being older can also affect the risk of miscarriage. Women over 35 years old are at a higher risk of miscarriage than younger women.

Having only one miscarriage rarely affects the other pregnancies and it also doesn’t increase the risk for having other miscarriages. In fact, most women will go on carrying a full-term pregnancy. Repeated miscarriages rarely occur.

Types of miscarriage

There are many types of miscarriages, depending on the symptoms and the stage of the pregnancy, your doctor will diagnose your condition as one of the following:

Complete miscarriage – All of the tissues formed in the pregnancy have been removed from your body.

Incomplete miscarriage – Some of the tissue or placental material have been passed out of the body, but some still remain inside of your body.

Missed miscarriage – The death of the embryo without your knowledge.

Threatened miscarriage – Cramps or bleeding due to a possible upcoming miscarriage.

Inevitable miscarriage – The signs of bleeding, cramping, and cervical dilation indicate that the miscarriage is inevitable.

Septic miscarriage – When an infection occurred within the uterus.

Miscarriage Prevention

All miscarriages are not preventable. However, you might take some steps to help maintain a healthy pregnancy. These steps include:

  • Get regular prenatal care throughout the pregnancy.
  • Avoid smoking, alcohol, and drugs during pregnancy.
  • Maintain a healthy weight pre and during pregnancy.
  • Stay away from infections.
  • Take a limited amount of caffeine i.e. not more than 200mg per day.
  • Take prenatal supplements such as vitamins, iron, etc.
  • Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables and maintain a healthy well-balanced diet.

Miscarriage treatment

The treatment given to you may depend on the type of miscarriage that you’ve had. If there is no pregnancy tissue remains in your body (complete miscarriage), then no treatment is required.

If there are any remained products present inside the body, there are some different treatment options:

  • Expectant management is to wait for the remaining tissue to pass out of your body naturally.
  • Medical management involves taking medications to help you pass the remaining tissue.
  • Surgical management involves the removal of remaining tissue surgically.

Physical recovery

The recovery of your body depends on the duration of the pregnancy before the miscarriage. After a miscarriage, you may experience symptoms such as abdominal discomfort and spotting.

While pregnancy hormones may last in the blood for a couple of months after a miscarriage, after four to six your normal periods should be started. Avoid having intercourse and using tampons for at least two weeks after having a miscarriage.

Support after a miscarriage

It is normal to have a wide range of emotions after a miscarriage. You might also experience symptoms such as frequent crying, low energy, and trouble sleeping. Ask for the support you need and take your time to overcome the loss.      

Getting pregnant again

After a miscarriage, it’s a good idea to wait until you both are both physically and emotionally ready before trying to conceive again. You can ask your doctor for help and guidance for planning your next pregnancy.

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