A miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous loss of a fetus before it is viable (20th week). In the medical sector, miscarriage is termed, “spontaneous abortion”.
A report has it that, as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, most often before a woman even knows she is pregnant. About 15-25% of pregnancies will end in a miscarriage after the pregnancies have been recognized.
More than 80% of miscarriages occur within the first three months of pregnancy and are less likely to occur after 20 weeks gestation. Miscarriages that occur after this time are termed late miscarriages.
A miscarriage can be an incredibly devastating event, and there are countless reasons for the miscarriage to occur (many of them are beyond your control).
Miscarriage can have long-lasting emotional repercussions, including depression, anger, fear, and guilt. However, one of the most difficult aspects of a miscarriage is simply the complete lack of knowledge surrounding the reason or reasons why it happened.
The main sign of miscarriage is spotting of blood on the vagina or bleeding, which can vary from slight brownish discharge to heavy bleeding.
You may also experience cramping and pain in the abdomen, mild to severe back pain and fluid discharge from the vagina.
Other signs may include:
- tissue or clotted discharge from the vagina
- feeling faint or light-headed weight loss
You should contact your doctor or antenatal clinic immediately, if you are pregnant and experience any of these symptoms.
Common Causes of Miscarriage
While many couples who suffer miscarriage blame themselves, the truth is that there are few causes of miscarriage that are entirely preventable, because, most miscarriages happen when the unborn baby has fatal genetic problems.
Usually, these problems are unrelated to the mother, but doctors usually advise optimizing your health before you conceive to give your pregnancy the best survival chance.
Generally, it is advised that women considering pregnancy see their doctor to review chronic conditions and medications. They should also begin prenatal vitamins 2 to 3 months prior to trying to conceive, and ensure that all their vaccines are up-to-date.
Such women should review their diet and ensure they limit or eliminate alcohol and caffeine in their diets. Those of them who smoke or use recreational drugs are advised to quit. Even after all that, you still may not be able to prevent miscarriage from happening to you.
Common Causes of Miscarriage include:
- Chromosomal abnormalities: the most common reason that a miscarriage occurs is some a problem with either the egg or sperm’s chromosomes during embryo formation.
- Thyroid disorders: thyroid disorders can lead to problems with infertility or cause recurrent miscarriages. In cases where a woman’s thyroid function is low, her body will try to compensate by producing hormones that can actually suppress ovulation. On the other hand, a thyroid that is producing too many hormones can interfere with estrogen’s functions, and make the uterus unfavorable for implantation or lead to abnormal uterine bleeding.
- Diabetes: you need to work with your primary care physician or endocrinologist to optimize your sugar control, because, uncontrolled insulin-dependent diabetes in the first trimester can lead to increased miscarriage rates and also a markedly increased risk of birth defects.
- Cervical Insufficiency: a miscarriage sometimes occurs because there is a weakness of the cervix (incompetent cervix), which cannot hold the pregnancy. An incompetent cervix can be treated with a circling stitch in the cervix.
- Ectopic pregnancy: an ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg settles and grows outside the inner lining of the uterus, instead of inside, and if left untreated, the risk of losing the baby is increased, and they can be fatal because of internal bleeding.
- Being overweight or underweight: Obesity is known to increase the risk of miscarriages. On the other hand, women with a low body mass index before conception are also at a heightened risk of miscarriage. A research study reported that underweight women were 72 percent more likely to suffer a miscarriage during their first 3 months of pregnancy, compared with those whose weight was healthy.
Other causes of miscarriage include:
- Hormone problems
- Medical conditions in the mother e.g diabetes or thyroid disease
- Immune system responses
- Uterine abnormalities
- Physical problems in the mother
A woman has a higher risk of miscarriage if she:
- Is over age 35
- Has had previous miscarriages
- Has certain diseases or health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, coeliac disease, kidney disease, lupus, thyroid gland problems, HIV, malaria, rubella, chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea
Types of Miscarriages
There are types or variety of terms that doctors use when discussing miscarriage:
- Some bleeding in early pregnancy
- lower backache
- Cervix stays closed
- The pregnancy continues.
Inevitable Or Incomplete Miscarriage:
- Abdominal or back pain,
- an open cervix
- Miscarriage is considered inevitable.
- The embryo flushes out of the uterus.
- Bleeding and pain which quickly goes away.
- Dead embryo,
- No other symptoms, such as bleeding or pain.
- Three or more miscarriages during the first trimester.
Usually, a miscarriage cannot be prevented and often occurs because something is abnormal with the pregnancy, but if a specific problem is identified with testing, then treatment options may be available.
However, a few simple lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of miscarriage:
- Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and using banned substances during pregnancy.
- Eat a healthful diet, and maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy.
- Avoid certain infections, such as rubella, malaria, syphilis etc…