Miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is the natural loss of a fetus or an embryo before the 20th week of pregnancy. It is typically the most common complication of pregnancy during the first trimester (the first three months) of the pregnancy. Therefore, the first trimester of pregnancy requires the most care.
The most common miscarriage symptom is vaginal bleeding. The chances of miscarriages are higher in the first pregnancy. It can be a distressing and devastating experience for the mother and everyone involved. Miscarriages happen when the fetus isn’t developing normally, and clot-like material passes through and out of the vagina leaving the uterus. Many miscarriages in a row is a sign of infertility.
Good prenatal care can occasionally prevent miscarriage. One should avoid alcohol, drugs, radiation and infectious diseases during pregnancy. The miscarriage that occur within the first trimester of pregnancy are known as early miscarriages and the ones that occur after 20 weeks of gestation are called late miscarriages. Late miscarriages are less likely to occur.
Miscarriage causes may include a variety of medical reasons, many of which are not in control of a person. But, if you know the risk factors, causes, and symptoms you can proceed with extra care.
Miscarriage symptoms may be different for each stage of pregnancy. In some cases, miscarriage happens very quickly, even before a woman comes to know about her pregnancy.
Some of the most common miscarriage symptoms include:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Heavy vaginal spotting
- Tissue or fluid discharge from the vagina
- Mild to severe lower back pain
- Weakness or dizziness
Mild spotting or bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy is common and ends up in successful pregnancies. But, if the bleeding is heavy with one or more symptoms stated above, one should call the doctor right away.
Knowing about miscarriage causes may help you take better prenatal care of yourself, thus improving the chances of having an overall healthy and full-term pregnancy.
Here are some most common miscarriage causes are:
- Chromosomal abnormalities: Most of the miscarriages in the first trimester happen because of the chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus. Chromosome hold genes that decide the baby’s unique feature such as hair color and eye color. Wrong number of chromosome hinders with the normal growth of the baby and results in miscarriage.
The risk of chromosomal problems and miscarriage increases as you grow older especially after the age of 35. Chromosome problems cannot be prevented by any means.
- Medical conditions: Miscarriage during the second trimester mostly happen if the mother has some health problems. These health problems may include:
- An infection such as German measles
- Poorly controlled diabetes or high blood pressure
- Thyroid diseases and other autoimmune diseases
- Abnormally shaped uterus, fibroids, or incompetent cervix
- Hormonal changes
- Lifestyle: Various habits of a mom-to-be can also increase the risk of miscarriage. Some habits that can be dangerous in pregnancy are:
- Smoking which includes passive smoking as well
- Use of drugs and alcohol
After confirming the symptoms of miscarriage, the doctors may advise a series of tests, HCG being the most important. Other tests that will be taken into consideration during miscarriage checkup are as follows:
- Pelvic examination: To check if the cervix has begun to dilate.
- Fetal heart scanning
An ultrasound can help in determining the fetal heartbeat and if the amniotic sac is normal and whether the placenta is separating.
A complete blood count (CBC) may be done to determine how much blood has been lost.
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Miscarriage treatment depends upon the type of miscarriage you have had. If it is a complete miscarriage i.e. if there is no tissue left in your body, no treatment is required. But if there is still some tissue left in your body, one can resort to the following options:
- Expectant management: If you have no signs of infection, you will have to wait for the remaining tissue to pass naturally out of your body through and out of the vagina. It may take a few weeks.
- Medical management: It involves taking medicines to expel out the pregnancy tissue and placenta. The medication is either taken orally or inserted in the vagina. This treatment works within 24 hours.
- Surgical management: It involves a minor surgical procedure called suction dilation and curettage (D&C) to remove any remaining tissue
It can be extremely devastating to have a miscarriage. Good prenatal care and few lifestyle changes like eating a healthful diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking and drinking can reduce the risk of miscarriage.