Miscarriage: Risks, Signs and Prevention
A miscarriage cannot be prevented in most cases. A miscarriage is a pregnancy that ends unexpectedly in the early weeks or months. This is also called a spontaneous abortion.
The factors that lead to most miscarriages are unavoidable. These issues include chromosomal abnormalities and foetus development problems.
While you cannot prevent a miscarriage, you can take steps to have a healthier pregnancy. This may lower the risk of a miscarriage by reducing the risk of possible causes of the premature end of the pregnancy.
The symptoms of a miscarriage vary, depending on your stage of pregnancy. In some cases, it happens so quickly that you may not even know you’re pregnant before you miscarry.
Here are some of the symptoms of a miscarriage:
- heavy spotting
- Vaginal bleeding
- discharge of tissue or fluid from your vagina
- severe abdominal pain or cramping
- mild to severe back pain
Call your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms during your pregnancy. It’s also possible to have these symptoms without experiencing a miscarriage. But your doctor will want to conduct tests to make sure that everything is fine.
Miscarriage or period?
Many times, a miscarriage can happen before you even know that you’re pregnant. Additionally, as with your menstrual period, some of the symptoms of a miscarriage involve bleeding and cramping.
So how can you tell if you’re having a period or a miscarriage?
When trying to distinguish between a period and a miscarriage, there are several factors to consider:
- Symptoms: Severe or worsening back or abdominal pain as well as passing fluids and large clots could indicate a miscarriage.
- Time: A miscarriage very early in pregnancy can be mistaken for a period. However, this is less likely after eight weeks into a pregnancy.
- Duration of symptoms: The symptoms of a miscarriage typically get worse and last longer than a period.
If you’re experiencing heavy bleeding or believe that you’re having a miscarriage, you should contact your doctor.
There are many different types of miscarriage. Depending on your symptoms and the stage of your pregnancy, your doctor will diagnose your condition as one of the following:
- Complete miscarriage: All pregnancy tissues have been expelled from your body.
- Incomplete miscarriage: You’ve passed some tissue or placental material, but some still remains in your body.
- Missed miscarriage: The embryo dies without your knowledge, and you don’t deliver it.
- Threatened miscarriage: Bleeding and cramps point to a possible upcoming miscarriage.
- Inevitable miscarriage: The presence of bleeding, cramping, and cervical dilation indicates that a miscarriage is inevitable.
- Septic miscarriage: An infection has occurred within your uterus.
What Are The Factors That Increase The Risk Of Miscarriage?
Various factors increase the risk of miscarriage, including:
- Women older than age 35 have a higher risk of miscarriage than do younger women. At age 35, you have about a 20 percent risk. At age 40, the risk is about 40 percent. And at age 45, it’s about 80 percent.
- Previous miscarriages.Women who have had two or more consecutive miscarriages are at higher risk of miscarriage.
- Chronic conditions.Women who have a chronic condition, such as uncontrolled diabetes, have a higher risk of miscarriage.
- Uterine or cervical problems.Certain uterine abnormalities or weak cervical tissues (incompetent cervix) might increase the risk of miscarriage.
- Smoking, alcohol and illicit drugs.Women who smoke during pregnancy have a greater risk of miscarriage than do nonsmokers. Heavy alcohol use and illicit drug use also increase the risk of miscarriage.
- Being underweight or being overweight has been linked with an increased risk of miscarriage.
- Invasive prenatal tests.Some invasive prenatal genetic tests, such as chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis, carry a slight risk of miscarriage.
Tips for a healthy pregnancy
Miscarriage cannot be prevented in most cases. However, you can improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy and possibly reduce your risk for miscarriage with these tips.
Take folic acid
Research suggests that taking 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily might reduce the risk of birth defects that can lead to miscarriage.
Start taking this B vitamin every day before you intend to get pregnant. Continue taking it during pregnancy for the greatest benefits.
Follow a healthy lifestyle
Avoid unhealthy risk factors, such as:
- second-hand smoke
- alcohol consumption
- drug use
You should also limit your caffeine intake to 300 milligrams (mg) or less per day.
In addition to avoiding risks, you may also be able to improve your pregnancy health by:
- getting regular exercise
- getting adequate sleep
- eating a healthy, well-balanced diet during all three trimesters
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overwight, obese, or underweight may increase your risk for complications during pregnancies. This includes miscarriage.
Take precautions against infections
Wash your hands frequently. This can help you avoid illnesses like the flu and pneumonia, which are easily spread.
Make sure your immunizations are all up to date, too. Talk with your doctor about any other immunizations you might need during pregnancy, including the flu shot.
Manage chronic conditions
If you have a health issue, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or an autoimmune disease, work with your doctor to properly treat or manage it. This can help prevent miscarriages when you become pregnant.
Practice safe sex
Some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can lead to complications during pregnancy. Get tested before you try to get pregnant. If you’re already pregnant, get tested as soon as possible.
During pregnancy, use barrier methods properly in every sexual encounter, including oral or anal sex, to reduce your risk for STD.
Misconceptions about miscarriage
There are several misconceptions related to the miscarriage reasons in early pregnancy and the risk factors of miscarriage.
The emotional state of women during pregnancy:
The emotional state of women during pregnancy including being depressed or stressed is not linked to the increased risk of having a miscarriage.
Having a fright or shock during pregnancy:
If you suffer from a fright or shock during pregnancy, it may also not increase your risk of having a miscarriage.
Exercising during pregnancy:
Exercising during pregnancy does not increase your risk of miscarriage. This includes doing high-intensity exercises such as cycling and jogging. But you should definitely discuss the kind and amount of exercise you may do during pregnancy with your physician or obstetrician.
Straining or lifting during pregnancy:
Lifting and straining do not really increase your risk of miscarriage.
Working during your pregnancy:
You don’t have to stop working, even if your work involves standing or sitting for a long time as working during pregnancy is not connected to the likelihood of having a miscarriage. However, you should make sure that you have no exposure to harmful radiation or chemicals at work. Discuss with your physician if you have concerns about any risks related to work.
Having sexual intercourse during pregnancy:
Having sex is not among the reasons for miscarriage. So, you may enjoy sex with your partner during pregnancy for as long as you feel comfortable.
Air travel during pregnancy:
Air travel is not harmful to pregnancy and is considered safe; therefore, pregnant women are allowed to travel by air until the 36th week of pregnancy by most commercial airlines.
Eating Hot and Spicy food: Eating hot and spicy food may neither cause a miscarriage nor increases your risk of having it.
Your body’s recovery will depend on how far along your pregnancy was before the miscarriage. After a miscarriage, you might experience symptoms such as spotting and abdominal discomfort.
While pregnancy hormones might last in the blood for a couple months after a miscarriage, you should start having normal periods again in four to six weeks. Avoid having sex or using tampons for at least two weeks after having a miscarriage.
Support after a miscarriage
It’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions after a miscarriage. You may also experience symptoms such as trouble sleeping, low energy, and frequent crying.
Take your time to grieve for your loss, and ask for support when you need it.
If you and your partner are finding it difficult to cope with the loss of a miscarriage, you may go to a counselor for counseling sessions.
Also read: Coping with Miscarriage