Miscarriage can occur as often as 1 in 4 pregnancies and is most common during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
It is a very distressing for the mother but also the father.
The onset of pain (cramping period type pain), accompanied by bleeding may be the signs of a miscarriage.
- Miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion of the embryo or fetus before 24 weeks of pregnancy.
- Miscarriage can be a natural poor quality pregnancy that did not successfully complete its development.
- A miscarriage allows the body to eliminate an unsustainable embryo.
- Over 10% of pregnancies diagnosed end in a miscarriage during the first trimester.
- 50% of fertilised eggs fail in their development before the beginning of delayed menstruation.
- The majority of miscarriages occur in early pregnancy, before 13 weeks.
Miscarriages are two times more frequent at the age of 40 than at 20.
The causes of miscarriage
There are many causes. Among these, there are:
- Chromosomal abnormalities that can cause early miscarriages: more than 80% of miscarriages are caused by a chromosomal abnormality.
- A later miscarriage after 13 weeks of pregnancy is often linked to a uterine malformation
- Infections, like toxoplasmosis and listeriosis for example.
- Blood clotting disorders
- Gestational diabetes
- Coffee: the daily consumption of two cups of coffee during pregnancy would increase the risk of miscarriage, according to a U.S. study published in January 2008 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology; consumption of two cups of coffee during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage during the first five months of pregnancy.
- Recreational drugs
- Amniocentesis risk of about 0.5 to 1%
- Intensive sport in the early pregnancy: a study among British women who do more than 7 hours of sport per week were 3.5 times more likely to make a miscarriage than those who did not exercise.
A miscarriage does not always affect the success of a subsequent pregnancy.
How long does it take to conceive after a miscarriage?
It is generally advisable to wait 2 to 3 cycles before trying to conceive again. But some women do become pregnant soon after a miscarriage.
Many experts advise grieving properly over the loss of your baby before considering having another baby. It can be physically and emotionally draining, so allowing time to recover is important.
The effects of a miscarriage
- A spontaneous and complete miscarriage, is where the fetus and products of conception have been expelled naturally. This is confirmed by ultra sound and no medical procedure is required.
- An incomplete miscarriage is where products of conception remain in the uterus (womb) and medical intervention is required.
Medical intervention is usually for;
- Suction and curettage performed under general anaesthesia
- In a late miscarriage, a short stay in hospital may be required because of risks of bleeding.
- Any pain and bleeding that persists after miscarriage.
It is advisable to wait several cycles before considering another pregnancy.
Bathing in the sea or a swimming pool, or taking a bath should be avoided for 4 days to reduce the risk of infection.
Investigation into Miscarriage
- As miscarriage is so common it is rarely necessary to investigate until after 3 or more consecutive miscarriages.
- Assessment and investigation can include medical history, ultrasound, blood tests and possibly a hysteroscopy (examination of the uterus under anaesthetic).
In certain situations for example if a woman is aged over 38 years and if the miscarriage occurs late in pregnancy, investigations may be done much sooner.
The cause of recurrent miscarriage is not always found.
The psychological impact of miscarriage
Miscarriage is usually a very sudden, unexpected and distressing event. Women and their partners often have feelings of loss, anger, grief, depression and being cheated out of the opportunity of becoming a parent. Relationships can sometimes suffer therefore it is important to share with your partner your feelings.
- Allowing your self-confidence and self-esteem to return is essential before considering another pregnancy.
- Counseling is very beneficial after experiencing miscarriage loss. It gives you the opportunity to talk about your feelings and emotions and allows you time to grieve for your loss and come to terms with it more quickly.
Stress, anxiety and bottling up feelings can have an affect on conceiving again so it is important to deal with any grief you have as sometimes feelings can resurface up to 10 years later after the miscarriage.
- Unresolved issues can impact on the enjoyment and smooth running of future pregnancies and even affect the psychological development of the next baby.
- It is essential to discuss your miscarriage with any current children you have, as them seeing you sad, upset and distressed may be distressing for them too and cause temporary difficulties with sleeping, restlessness and sadness for them.
What to do
- Allow time to grieve. Seek help and support from other women who have experienced a miscarriage (see links below) and from Counselors, your GP and family.
- Acknowledge your loss; some women give their baby a name, plant a tree, light a candle, write a poem or enter the baby's name in a book of remembrance.
- When the time is right think about trying for another baby.
- The support of your partner, family and friends is important it helping you come to term with your loss..
Pregnant women who have previously miscarried may struggle to enjoy future pregnancies and be in fear of the date at which the previous miscarriage occurred.
For more information