Miscarriage is not a pleasant topic and it is definitely not something that people like to discuss. However, it is a reality and according to research, 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Thus, it is important that we are aware of any signs that could help us identify possible problems and how to deal with miscarriage. Let’s take a closer look at this topic gain more insight into how to support those who have experienced it.
According to experts, normal routine activities such as work, moderate exercise or sex do not contribute towards miscarriage. The most common form of miscarriage in the first trimester is a chance chromosomal or genetic abnormality in the embryo. This means that there was a damaged egg or sperm cell. Other causes of miscarriage include hormonal problems or infections, smoking, drug use, excessive caffeine use, exposure to toxic substances, malnutrition as well as maternal age and maternal trauma.
There are certain factors which increase a woman’s risk for miscarriage. These include:
- Maternal age affects the chance of miscarriage – women younger than 35 have a 15% chance of miscarriage versus women over 35 who have a 20-35% chance and women of 45 and over have a 50% chance.
- A woman who has previously had a miscarriage has a 25% chance of having another one.
- Chronic illnesses such as uncontrolled diabetes, lupus or thyroid disease.
- Listeria, which is a bacterium found in uncooked meat, unpasteurized dairy products and raw eggs.
- Hormonal abnormalities in the mother such as low progesterone levels or uterine fibroids.
There are certain warning signs that all pregnant women should look out for which includes:
- Mild to severe back pain
- Weight loss
- White pink mucus
- Real contractions occurring 15-20 minutes apart
- Brown or bright red bleeding with or without cramps
- Loss of pregnancy symptoms such as nausea or vomiting
- Passing tissue or clot-like material
There are also various different types of miscarriage:
Threatened miscarriage: This may include vaginal bleeding, lower back pain or cramps which could last several days or weeks. The cervix will still be closed. In this case, the pain and bleeding could disappear and you can go on to have a heathy pregnancy and baby or they could get worse and it could result in a miscarriage.
Inevitable or incomplete miscarriage: There will abdominal and back pain as well lower stomach cramps and bleeding with an open cervix. Miscarriage will occur when there is dilation, thinning or stretching of the cervix and rupture of the membranes. The developing foetus will be expelled through the bleeding as the cervix opens.
Complete miscarriage: This occurs when the embryo and all the pregnancy tissue has been emptied out of the uterus. Vaginal bleeding may continue for several days. There may be strong period pain and cramping which occurs when the uterus contracting to empty.
Missed miscarriage: This occurs when a woman experiences a miscarriage without knowing it. This means that the embryo was not expelled from the uterus. Women who have experienced this type of miscarriage might have a brownish discharge and some of the pregnancy symptoms would have faded and there would be no foetal heart tones found on an ultrasound.
During or after a miscarriage, the most important thing is to ensure that there is no haemorrhaging and infection. Usually, when miscarriage occurs in the earlier stages of pregnancy, the body is able to expel most of the foetal tissue itself thus limiting the amount of medical procedures needed. If not, the most common procedure that is performed is called a dilation and curettage. This is when a thin instrument is inserted into the uterus to remove any tissue from inside the uterus.
One should always be as healthy as possible before trying to conceive, this will give yourself and your baby the best chance at a normal healthy pregnancy. Here are some tips to follow:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthy foods daily
- Take vitamins daily, especially folic acid
- Always try and keep stress at a minimum
- Stay at a healthy weight
- Don’t smoke
Once you have fallen pregnant, you want keep yourself and your baby as safe and healthy as possible so try to avoid the following:
- Areas where people smoke
- Alcohol consumption
- Caffeine consumption
- Environments where radiation or X-rays are present
- Activities that can cause injury such as contact sports
Most importantly, if you know of anyone who has experienced a miscarriage, there are many things you can do to support them during the difficult time. It is important to listen to them and let them share their feelings with you even if you say nothing in return. Send them a text message to let them know you are thinking of them, give them hug so they can feel your love and support. You can also take them for a fun activity to try and distract them or you can give them time alone for themselves. It is important to try and see what the particular person needs at that time and then show them that you can provide them with both physical and emotional support.
If you, yourself have experienced a miscarriage, please know that you are not alone, and that you will get through it with the love and support of your family and friends and hopefully one day you will experience the joy of a healthy baby.