What is a miscarriage?
A miscarriage is an unwanted termination of pregnancy which occurs before the developing baby is old enough to survive on its own. Most miscarriages occur within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy when the growing baby is still very vulnerable. However, they can still occur as late as the 22nd week.
More miscarriages occur than studies show because many people with early miscarriage never knew they were pregnant in the first place.
The reason for most miscarriages are not known, but it is thought that they are a way nature sorts out babies who have problems developing properly, maybe due to genetic errors during cell division. There are however, factors that make it more likely for a woman to miscarry. They include:
• Older age in either partner.
• Abnormalities in the womb; such as a short or weak cervix, or large fibroids.
• Certain long-term diseases, such as thyroid problems.
• Two or more previous miscarriages.
• Smoking or using illegal drugs while pregnant
Ps: Having sex and exercising don’t increase the risk of miscarriage.
Miscarriage may be described as missed, incomplete, or complete.
• A missed miscarriage means that the pregnancy has ended but the tissues remain in the womb.
• An incomplete miscarriage means that some, but not all, of the tissues have left the body.
• A complete miscarriage means that all the tissues have passed from the body.
What are the symptoms?
• Bleeding or spotting: This does not always lead to miscarriage.
• Abdominal cramps: The pain may be like period pain, or it can be more severe. Very severe cramps may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo grows outside the womb), and needs emergency treatment.
• Low back pain.
• Fluid or tissue passing from your vagina.
These symptoms only suggest a miscarriage, so it will need to be confirmed at the hospital by performing a pelvic examination, blood tests and an ultrasound.
What treatments work?
There’s usually little that can be done to prevent or stop a miscarriage.
Many women who miscarry early in their pregnancy will have a complete miscarriage by the time they see their doctor or soon after. These women do not need further treatment. But if a miscarriage is not complete, there are three treatment options:
• Letting the miscarriage finish naturally.
• Drug treatment: This helps the cervix to open, allowing the tissues to pass out. Misoprostol is often used to do this.
• Minor surgery: The tissues are removed through a surgical procedure.
What will happen to me?
Some women bleed for several weeks after a miscarriage. As well as the trauma and sadness, the body is dealing with changes in hormone levels, which can affect the emotions.
A woman’s body quickly recovers from a miscarriage, and some people start trying to get pregnant again soon after. There is no medical reason to delay trying again if you want to. Most women who have one miscarriage go on to have a successful pregnancy next time around.
Counselling can help deal with the emotional impact of a miscarriage. Talking to a counsellor, and having the support of family and friends, can help a lot.