One of the greatest fears of couples expecting a child is a miscarriage. It is a natural termination of pregnancy that occurs in the first 20 weeks.
Risk of a miscarriage
We often hear statistics that 1 in 6 pregnancies end in miscarriage. This may sound scary, but often the woman does not even know she is pregnant when the miscarriage occurs. As the weeks progress, the risk of miscarriage decreases. The vast majority of miscarriages occur below 12 weeks. The risk decreases significantly if the fetus is alive and well at eight weeks. After 12 weeks, it is rare to lose the baby, and the cause is often a problem with the cervix.
Knowing this, some women may prefer to wait until they've had their first doctor’s appointment before shouting the news from the rooftops. It's really a personal decision. It's up to you to see what works best for you.
What causes a miscarriage?
In most cases, it will be a chromosomal anomaly of the embryo. Since the embryo is not viable, the body expels it. It can also be a blighted ovum, or an empty sac containing no visible embryo. The body also rejects it. As mentioned earlier, it can also be a problem with the cervix.
Symptoms of a miscarriage
- Vaginal bleeding
- The sudden disappearance of pregnancy symptoms (such as less nausea or breast pain)
- Heavy menstruation
- Abdominal pain similar to contractions
When should you consult a doctor?
If you experience heavy bleeding (more than one sanitary napkin per hour), severe abdominal pain and/or loss of consciousness, go to the emergency room.
Talk to a healthcare professional if you are not experiencing these symptoms but are still concerned. They will be able to reassure you or refer you if necessary.
Most women who have had a miscarriage will have a normal pregnancy afterwards. If you are unfortunate enough to experience repeated miscarriages, a consultation with your doctor is necessary to determine the cause, if possible.
What will the doctor do?
Although there is no treatment to stop a miscarriage, it is necessary to consult a healthcare professional when one is suspected. If the embryo is expelled, it is because it had an abnormality and was not viable. A miscarriage is, therefore, inevitable.
If your blood type is Rh-negative and your partner's is Rh-positive, the doctor will probably recommend an immunoglobulin injection to avoid blood incompatibility with the embryo in a future pregnancy.
Some medications may help with the expulsion of the uterine’s contents. The doctor may also prescribe medication for nausea and pain. A follow-up ultrasound will be necessary to validate complete expulsion.
After more than ten weeks, the doctor will likely perform a curettage. This is a short medical procedure to remove uterine contents altogether.
It is also possible to let nature take its course. However, it is necessary to do regular follow-ups until the miscarriage is completed.
The miscarriage will result in bleeding that is similar to menstruation. However, the bleeding may be heavier and last longer than a period. If the bleeding lasts more than ten days, it is important to seek medical attention.
If the expulsion is complete, a miscarriage usually does not lead to complications.
A miscarriage does not compromise future fertility. On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, repeated miscarriages may indicate an underlying fertility problem.
Can a miscarriage be avoided?
Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid a miscarriage. However, healthy lifestyle habits (e.g. healthy eating, not smoking, exercise) can reduce the risk.
It’s ok to mourn a miscarriage
A miscarriage is a painful experience. It is essential to understand and feel the loss. It is grief in its own right. You should not hesitate to talk about it and ask for help if you need it.
Since miscarriages often occur early in the pregnancy, dads often feel helpless in the face of their partner's feelings. We must not forget them in this ordeal; they are also in pain.
Like any other grief, the anguish will take varying amounts of time. You may experience different stages of mourning. Take heart and be gentle with yourself.