Understanding a Miscarriage

Posted at 11:22 AM on Feb 7, 2023

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There is no easy way to be told you have miscarried, which will undoubtedly be difficult. A miscarriage can be a traumatic experience, and you should never be afraid to get help. While miscarriages are quite common, it does not make them any easier to go through. Your physician can help – don’t be afraid to talk to them about what you are going through.

Understanding a Miscarriage 

A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of pregnancy before the 20th week. Most miscarriages will occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, meaning many women often don’t even know they are pregnant. 

The term “miscarriage” implies that something went wrong to cause the loss of the pregnancy, but in most cases, this is not true.

Why Do Miscarriages Happen?

Most miscarriages are due to improper development of the fetus. Commonly this is due to problems at the chromosomal level. Problems with chromosomes may include:

  • Abnormal number – Each embryo should have a total of 46 chromosomes: 23 from Mom and 23 from Dad.  Sometimes an different amount does not allow the fetus to grow normally to support life.
  • Blighted ovum - no embryo forms.
  • Intrauterine fetal demise - an embryo forms but stops developing and dies before any symptoms of pregnancy loss occur.
  • Molar and partial molar pregnancy - abnormal placenta growth leads to abnormal fetal or no fetal development.

Sometimes, the mother may have certain health conditions that increase the risk of miscarriage. These include:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Infections
  • Hormonal problems
  • Uterus or cervix problems
  • Thyroid disease

Other factors that may increase your risk of miscarrying include:

  • Age - Women older than age 35.
  • Previous miscarriages - Women who have had two or more consecutive miscarriages.
  • Chronic conditions - like uncontrolled diabetes
  • Uterine or cervical problems
  • Smoking, alcohol, and illicit drugs
  • Weight - Being underweight or being overweight 
  • Assisted Reproductive Technology / IVF

Symptoms of a Miscarriage

  • Heavy bleeding from your vagina
  • Lower abdominal pain that may feel similar to menstrual cramps
  • Symptoms of pregnancy that are now gone, like breast tenderness or nausea
  • Fever
  • Fowl smelling vaginal fluid 

If you think you may be experiencing a miscarriage, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. The symptoms listed above are not always signs of miscarriage and can be experienced during normal pregnancies as well. Additionally, some miscarriages may occur with no symptoms at all. Regular checkups with your physician during pregnancy are essential to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

What Happens After a Miscarriage?

After miscarrying, the fetal tissues will need to pass (like having a heavy period). This can happen naturally or may require medical intervention to remove the tissues if they don’t pass on their own. Your doctor will closely monitor you to determine if additional intervention is needed.

How to Cope With a Miscarriage

There is no easy way to cope, and everyone’s grieving process is different. Many women will experience depression, sadness, anxiety, loss, and emptiness after miscarrying. These symptoms can be short-lived or last for months. You do not have to do this alone. Talk to your doctor today. They can help.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting others, seek help immediately. Call 911 or 988.