5 Things You Need to Know About Miscarriage
Miscarriage of a pregnancy is incredibly scary, sad and difficult. Not only are you facing the loss of the baby for whom you may have longed and planned, but you are also likely feeling overwhelmed by many questions. In honor of October’s National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, we offer these 5 Things You Need to Know About Miscarriage. We hope that it will help you answer some of those hard questions and help you know how to move forward.
5 Things You Need to Know About Miscarriage
1. What is a Miscarriage and How Common is it?
A miscarriage is the unplanned loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks of gestation. It’s often also referred to as a spontaneous abortion by medical professionals. As many as 10-15% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage. Most of those losses happen within the first 8 weeks of the pregnancy.
2. What Causes a Miscarriage?
Miscarriage occurs for a wide range of reasons and sometimes for no known reason at all. In more than half of cases, miscarriage in the first trimester is caused by a genetic or chromosomal abnormality of the fetus that makes growth and development unsustainable. Other possible causes of pregnancy loss can include health issues of the mother or exposure to chemicals or toxins. Common maternal health issues that are known to cause miscarriage include:
- chronic diseases (diabetes, thyroid diseases, poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, etc.)
- autoimmune disorders
- physical problems of the cervix, uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes
- exposure to environmental toxins
- prenatal exposure to drugs, alcohol and other substances
3. What are My Chances of Getting Pregnant After Miscarriage?
Fortunately, most miscarriages are singular events that do not tend to repeat themselves in a woman’s fertility journey. However, there are about 1% of women who experience repeated miscarriages. Once a woman has lost three successive pregnancies, her doctor should suggest testing to determine the possible causes of the recurrent miscarriages and treatment options. At that point, a full health history of both parents can be conducted.
Keep in mind that even with repeated miscarriages, you might never find a specific cause. The good news is that most women are very likely to get pregnant and deliver a baby even after a few miscarriages. In fact, almost two out of three women who have experienced recurrent miscarriages will go on to give birth without additional special medical treatment.
4. How Do I Move Forward and Cope with This Loss?
It’s very important to allow yourself plenty of time to grieve the loss of this baby. Take time to care for yourself and your partner before you try to move forward. Your emotions might be all over the place, including shock, anger, fear, and sadness. Those are all normal reactions to this loss. Be honest with yourself and with close friends and family.
There is no time-table that is “right” for moving through this. You might feel like you are “feeling your way” through the difficulty of grief.
Some of these suggestions might help you process the loss in healthy ways:
- Surround yourself with loved ones and friends for support. Try to share your feelings. Be willing to ask for help when you need it.
- Make sure to talk honestly with to your partner about your loss. Remember that everyone copes with grief and loss differently, so give each other room to express that.
- Make it a priority to take care of yourself. Eat healthily, stay active, and get enough sleep to help your body and emotions heal. Do the things that feel healing to you.
- Join a support group, whether in-person or online. It is quite healing to remember that you are not alone. Sharing your story with folks who understand this particular kind of loss is also healing. Creating a Family has a very active and welcoming support group on Facebook.
- Do something in remembrance of your baby.
- If your grief doesn’t soften or ease with time or is preventing you from re-entering your life, please seek help from a grief counselor.
5. How Soon Can I Try Again to Get Pregnant?
Once you feel confident that you are physically and emotionally ready, there is usually no reason to wait very long to try again to conceive if you are a typically healthy woman. Your doctor might recommend that you go through one or even two healthy menstrual cycles before trying. He might even recommend a full exam that will assure both of you that you are physically ready for pregnancy. That’s a good idea and can also be a good opportunity to talk about your possible fears or concerns about future pregnancies and maternity care.
You Are Not Alone
As you talk with other women and share your story of miscarriage, you will likely hear the common threads of loss and sorrow. But you will also learn that you are not alone and that early loss of a pregnancy is more common than you thought. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in this loss and that many women move on to have happy, healthy pregnancies with beautiful babies at the end.
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