What is a miscarriage?
A miscarriage is the sudden loss of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy. When a pregnancy loss occurs during the second half of pregnancy, it is called a preterm delivery, but most miscarriages happen during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Miscarriages take place in about 10-25% of all known pregnancies, but it is estimated that up to 50% of all fertilized eggs are lost before the woman even knows she is pregnant.
What causes a miscarriage?
During the first eight weeks of pregnancy, the most common cause of miscarriage is an abnormality in the baby's chromosomes. Most often, however, the cause of a pregnancy loss is unknown. Having a miscarriage does not mean that there is anything wrong with a woman’s health. Fortunately, 90% of women who have had a miscarriage are able to have a normal pregnancy and healthy baby afterwards.
What are signs of a miscarriage?
If any of the following symptoms occur, the woman should contact her healthcare provider or a medical facility right away. Having any of these symptoms does NOT mean a miscarriage will definitely occur.
- Mild to severe back pain.
- Weight loss.
- White-pink mucous discharge from the vagina.
- Painful contractions happening every 5-20 minutes.
- Bright red or brown bleeding with or without cramps.
- Passing of clot-like material vaginally (collect this material and bring it to the healthcare provider for examination).
- Sudden decrease in pregnancy signs.
Is there treatment for miscarriage?
The purpose of treatment during or after a miscarriage is to prevent hemorrhage (very heavy bleeding) and/or infection. When the loss happens early in the pregnancy, a woman’s body will most likely expel all fetal tissue and she will not need any further medical procedures. If her body does not pass all the tissue, the most common procedure to stop bleeding and prevent infection is a dilation and curettage, also known as a D&C. Drugs may be prescribed to help control bleeding after the D&C is performed. Bleeding should be monitored closely once she is at home; if she notices an increase in bleeding or the onset of chills or fever, she should call her physician immediately.
How can a woman recover emotionally from a miscarriage?
Miscarriage can affect anyone, and women and their partners are often left with unanswered questions about why the miscarriage happened, their emotional reaction, and about trying to conceive again. Her healthcare provider is the best person to explain about miscarriage and trying to conceive again and may be helpful with the emotional impact. For many there is a sense of loss and a time of grieving that loss. It is important that those who have experienced a miscarriage communicate openly with family, friends and healthcare providers during this time and allow them to help her recover physically and emotionally.