Miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is when you lose pregnancy before 20 weeks. Nearly 80% of miscarriages happen during the first three months of pregnancy.
Most miscarriages are uncontrollable and occur when the fetus stops growing.
Early miscarriages are common, and one in five women have a miscarriage for no apparent reason.
Signs of miscarriage include,
- Bleeding (mild to severe)
- Severe abdominal pain
- Severe cramps
- Breast tenderness
However, most women with bleeding in the first trimester have successful pregnancies.
Consult your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
Causes of Miscarriage
Problems in the genes cause about 50% of all miscarriages. The risk of defective genes increases with age (>35 years).
The exact causes of miscarriage remain unclear. Probable causes include:
- Chronic illnesses (diabetes, hypertension)
- Infections (malaria, AIDS)
- Hormone problems
- Uterine abnormalities (fibroids or cysts)
- Certain medications
Always confirm with your doctor whether a drug is safe to use during pregnancy before taking any medications.
How is a Miscarriage Diagnosed?
- Your doctor will perform an ultrasound test to check for a fetal heartbeat or the presence of a yolk sac (the first visible fetal structure).
- You may also have a blood test to measure the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone. A low hCG level confirms miscarriage.
- A pelvic examination to check if your cervix (lower end of the uterus) has opened.
What Tests Should You Have After Repeated Miscarriages?
Blood tests or genetic tests are necessary if you have 2-3 miscarriages in a row.
- Genetic tests: To check for chromosome abnormalities
- Blood tests: To check for hormonal imbalances
It is essential to know the cause to prevent repeated miscarriages.
Most people with repeat miscarriages can have a healthy pregnancy.
- No treatment is necessary in case of miscarriage
- Rarely, surgery or medications might be needed
Is it Possible to Prevent Miscarriage?
Miscarriage cannot be prevented but you can reduce the risk with these tips:
- Healthy diet
- Folic acid supplements
- Weight control
- Avoid smoking and drinking
If you have any medical conditions, talk to your doctor to create a treatment plan that keeps your baby healthy.
Myths and Facts of Miscarriage
- Myth: Miscarriage is the mother’s fault.
Fact: Most early miscarriages are because of gene defects and is completely out of control.
- Myth: Multiple miscarriages mean you are infertile.
Fact: With each miscarriage, the risk of gene defects decreases, thereby increasing your chance of pregnancy.
Things To Avoid During Pregnancy That May Cause Miscarriage
There are certain things that are thought to increase the risk of miscarriage during pregnancy. While not all miscarriages are preventable and some occur for unknown reasons, avoiding these potential risk factors may help reduce the risk of miscarriage:
- Illicit drugs (cocaine and heroin)
- Certain medications
- Infections (toxoplasmosis, rubella, and cytomegalovirus)
- Environmental toxins (lead, mercury, and pesticides)
- Excessive caffeine
- Certain foods
It is important to talk to your doctor about any concerns you have during pregnancy and to follow their guidance on how to have a healthy and safe pregnancy.
What Does NOT Cause Miscarriage?
There are misconceptions that these routine activities can cause miscarriages.
- Exercise (high-intensity activities like jogging and cycling)
- Sexual intercourse
- Working (except for chemical or radiation exposure)
- Spicy foods
- Air travel