Miscarriages are unfortunately common and affect every one out of four pregnancies. Miscarriages can be incredibly difficult to cope with and they often leave women and their families with many questions. We’ll be discussing miscarriages so that you can better understand what causes them and what to do if you think you are experiencing a miscarriage.
The National Library of Medicine defines a miscarriage as the sudden loss of pregnancy before the 20th week. Many women miscarry before knowing they are pregnant and mistake their bleeding and cramping for heavy menstruation. Miscarriage is more common during the first few months of pregnancy because a lot is happening quickly. Cells are rapidly dividing, the female body is quickly preparing, and everything must go perfectly for the pregnancy to proceed smoothly.
Chromosomal problems like an irregular number of chromosomes in the egg(s) and/or sperm are one of the most common causes of miscarriage. If the number of chromosomes in the fertilized egg is higher or lower than 46 (the standard number), the fetus cannot develop properly.
Anyone can be affected by miscarriage but there are a few risk factors to consider. If you are currently pregnant and have one or more of the following risk factors, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss this. Risk factors include:
- Previous history of miscarriage
- Older maternal age
- Drinking, smoking, and drug use
- Obesity, diabetes, and other medical issues
Physical symptoms to be aware of include:
- Spotting or bleeding
- Back or abdominal pain
- Severe cramping
These symptoms are not a guarantee that you are miscarrying. In fact, most women with these symptoms will not miscarry. If you experience any of these symptoms early in your pregnancy, we encourage you to call your doctor and schedule an appointment to have them evaluated.
The first thing to do is call your OB-GYN or visit an emergency room if you need to be examined outside your doctor’s normal hours. Your doctor will discuss the symptoms you are experiencing and will likely schedule an appointment where an ultrasound and/or physical examination will be performed. If a miscarriage is detected, management options will be reviewed.
Miscarriage is more than just a pregnancy loss and, in the days following your miscarriage, it’s normal to experience feelings of grief even if your fetus was too little to have a heartbeat. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family for help, support, and advice. A therapist can also help you process feelings of grief and other complicated emotions. It’s important to remember that everyone grieves differently so give yourself the time and space you need to process your loss.
If you have concerns about your pregnancy or have questions about conceiving, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with our team of maternal-fetal specialists. We care about your overall health, physically and mentally, and are here to offer you support and guidance during this difficult time.
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!