Pregnancy is a beautiful experience but it does come with its potential issues—miscarriage being the most common complication. If you’re pregnant, the likelihood of having a miscarriage is about 10% to 20%.
The more you know about miscarriages, the better you’ll be able to manage the occasional unusual pregnancy symptom or get the proper care if you are having a miscarriage.
Today, we’ll outline the top 10 things you should know about miscarriages.
1. Miscarriages Aren’t The Mom’s Fault
With very few exceptions, there’s nearly nothing you or your doctor can do to affect whether or not you will have a miscarriage.
Most miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities, which occur at the time of fertilization and cannot be predicted or changed afterwards. Unfortunately, there is little doctors can do to stop a first-trimester miscarriage that’s already in progress. There’s rarely a way to predict or prevent them. They just happen.
If you’ve had multiple miscarriages, your doctor may be able to prevent future events with treatment for specific preventable miscarriage causes.
2. Statistically, your next pregnancy is very likely to be healthy
Great news! Many, many women who’ve had a miscarriage go on to have one or more children; the likelihood of having multiple miscarriages is relatively low.
In fact, only about 5% of women will have at least 2 consecutive miscarriages while only 1% experience 3 or more. If you’ve had 2 losses or more you should talk to your doctor or an infertility specialist to see if you should be tested for conditions that cause recurrent miscarriages. Doctors typically don’t look for an underlying reason for miscarriage until you’ve had two or more losses.
3. Miscarriage Usually Happens Early in Pregnancy
The definition of miscarriage is a pregnancy lost before 20 weeks. Almost all miscarriages occur before the 12-week mark, and most occur even before detection of the heartbeat which is why expecting parents are often told to wait until the second trimester to start spreading the news. A pregnancy lost after 20 weeks is referred to as stillbirth.
4. Miscarriage Symptoms Vary
Depending on your stage of pregnancy, miscarriage symptoms can vary. In some cases, a loss happens so quickly that you may not even know you’re pregnant before you miscarry.
Here are some common symptoms of a miscarriage:
* Mild to severe back pain
* Vaginal spotting or bleeding
* Vaginal discharge of tissue or fluid
* Severe abdominal pain or cramping
It’s possible to have these symptoms without experiencing a miscarriage so if you know you’re pregnant, call your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms. They’ll conduct tests to make sure that everything is fine.
5. You May Not Know You Miscarried
Sometimes a baby dies without any outward signs of miscarriage; this is called a missed miscarriage.
With a missed miscarriage, the pregnancy loss is often discovered incidentally during a routine ultrasound or when the heartbeat cannot be found on a handheld doppler by the start of the second trimester.
Once a missed miscarriage is diagnosed, your doctor can help determine next steps. For instance, you may decide to have a natural miscarriage, which means waiting for the symptoms to begin and the fetal tissue to pass on its own. Your doctor may offer a medication, which induces contractions so the tissue passes earlier. Or you might opt for a medical intervention like a dilation and curettage procedure.
6. Your Weight Can Increase Miscarriage Rate
Being outside the normal weight range can increase your likelihood of having a miscarriage. While being too thin or undernourished may increase the miscarriage rate, poorly controlled diabetes and obesity can also increase your risk. Excess fatty tissue leads to higher levels of oestrogen and testosterone in the body and may also lead to insulin resistance, thyroid disorders, or hypertension.
7. Grieving After A Miscarriage is Normal
Even if you miscarry early on in your pregnancy, feelings of loss are common. Some women have significant depression or anxiety and fathers can grieve, too.
The grief felt is real. Some well-intentioned friends and family may try to minimize the significance of a loss with a “Don’t worry, you can try again,” not realizing that the loss of a baby, no matter when it occurs during a pregnancy, can be devastating.
Still, if you’ve suffered a miscarriage, it’s important to remember that you have the right to grieve as much—or as little—as you need to. Do this in any way that helps you to heal and eventually move on.
Turn to your partner for support—remember they’re also mourning a loss and may show that grief in a different way. Sharing your feelings openly with each other, rather than trying to protect each other, can help you both heal. We recommend seeking counseling and spiritual support in the weeks and months following a miscarriage and giving yourself the time and space to fully grieve your loss.
Just remember, you should also start to feel gradually better as time passes. If you don’t, or if you have continued trouble coping with everyday life or if you continue to feel very anxious, continue with professional counseling and lean on your community.
8. You May Not Need To Go To The Emergency Room
Unfortunately, your doctor usually can’t do anything to help prevent you from miscarrying in the first trimester of a pregnancy. It is possible you may not be able to get a confirmed diagnosis that you’ve miscarried during a single doctor’s visit. A doctor can test for a miscarriage by testing for the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your blood. Usually, the hCG level will double approximately every two to three days in the first trimester. Failure to do so may indicate a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy has occurred. You may not necessarily need emergency medical care if you are worried you’re miscarried. You can call your doctor for recommendations.
However, if you have any of the following symptoms, you should go to an emergency room:
Extremely heavy bleeding (soaking a menstrual pad in under an hour)
Severe abdominal pain
Suspicion that you may have an ectopic pregnancy
9. A Miscarriage Can Take Several Days
A first-trimester miscarriage usually does not happen all at once. By the time the physical symptoms of miscarriage appear, the baby usually has already passed away, sometimes more than a week before.
Miscarriage may manifest as bleeding that starts as light spotting and then progress to a heavier flow with clots after a few days. You may have some level of bleeding for up to two weeks, although it should not remain heavy for that entire time.
The precise timing of how long a miscarriage lasts is fairly unique for each woman, but you're most likely to start and finish bleeding within two weeks of the diagnosis.
10. Fertility After Miscarriage Varies
Unfortunately, it is not possible to accurately predict when you will be fertile again. Some women resume ovulating in as little as two weeks after a miscarriage, whereas others may find themselves waiting up to three months before normal menstrual cycles resume. If you don’t want to get pregnant again right away, it's a good idea to use protection until you’re ready.
If you’d like someone to talk to about your new pregnancy and how to manage it well, schedule an appointment to see a medical provider at The Source. We have a full staff of medical professionals ready with the information and care you need.
If you have experienced a miscarriage and need support, we offer free professional counseling and spiritual support.
Click the image below to book an appointment with your nearest Source clinic today.