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Information On Miscarriage and Spontaneous Abortions

Miscarriage and Spontaneous Abortion refer to the same experience:  a pregnancy which terminates itself, with no deliberate assistance  by either the mother or doctor, within 20 weeks of the beginning of gestation.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that this is the most common cause of pregnancy loss. 

Of all miscarriages, chemical pregnancies are estimated to account for around 50 to 75 percent of miscarriages.  A chemical pregnancy refers to an incident in which, just after implantation, the pregnancy is lost. This causes bleeding about the time of the woman's expected period.  In many cases of chemical pregnancies, the woman does not even realize she had conceived.

Most women who miscarry do so within the first 13 weeks of becoming pregnant.  With so many different causes of types of miscarriages, it's hard for some people to keep track of this subject. For these women, we offer this short information sheet.  However, remember that for the most complete information on this subject, especially as it applies to you, consult with your own health care provider.

What Causes a Miscarriage?
There are numerous causes of miscarriage--most of which are not easily identifiable.  The most common one during the first trimester is an abnormality in the baby's chromes.  These abnormalities usually are usually a result of a faulty sperm cell or egg, or perhaps the result of a zygote's faulty timing in dividing itself. 

Some other reasons for a miscarriage can include: the mother's own health problems, hormonal problems, infections, smoking or drug use by the mother, malnutrition, too much caffeine, excessive exposure to toxic substances or radion, improper egg implantation into the lining of the uterus, the mother's age, and a host of other issues.  You should also know that issues such as sex, moderate exercise, and working have not been proven to cause miscarriage.

If the mother is healthy, her chance of having a miscarriage is estimated to be somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.  For those in less-desirable physical condition, the odds could go as high as 25 percent.  Some factors that might affect the chances of having a miscarriage:

  • The older the mother, the better the chance for miscarriage; women age 35 to 45 have a 20 to 35 percent chance, while those over 45 could have as high as a 50 percent chance of miscarrying.
  • A woman who previously miscarries has about a 25 percent chance of miscarrying again (which, it should be noted, is only a slightly higher risk than for someone who has not miscarried in the past).

These are the warning signs that should cause you to report to a doctor that you fear a possible miscarriage:  back pain that is worse than menstrual cramps; unexplained weight loss; pinkish-white mucous; true contractions every five to 20 minutes; bright red or brown bleeding either with or without cramps; unexplained decrease in usual signs of pregnancy; unknown tissue passing from vaginal area.

Types of Miscarriage

There are several different types of miscarriage (which you could also think of as stages of miscarriage).

  • First is threatened miscarriage.  This is where you're experiencing a certain amount of bleeding from the uterus, along with lower backaches. Also, the cervix seems to be remaining closed.
  • Next is incomplete / inevitable miscarriage.  This is marked by pain in the abdomen or back, along with bleeding and an open cervix.  If there is an effacement in the cervix or membrane rupture, miscarriage is inevitable.
  • Finally is complete miscarriage. This happens when the embryo has completely emptied from the uterus.  At this point, bleeding subsides quickly, along with pain and cramps.  A doctor will normally confirm a completed miscarriage via an ultrasound or surgical curettage.
  • There is also a phenomenon known as a missed miscarriage. This is when there has been the death of the embryo without the uterus being expelled--and consequently, the mother is not even aware of the miscarriage.  Some signs are an unexplained loss of the signs of being pregnant as well as no heart tones discovered via an ultrasound.
  • When a woman has three or more first-trimester miscarriages in a row, this is known as recurrent miscarriage.
  • An anembryonic pregnancy is when an egg has implanted itself into the wall of the uterus, but there is never any development of the fetus.
  • Ectopic pregnancy refers to a phenomenon win which an egg will implant itself somewhere other than in the uterus (usually it's the fallopian tube).
  • Molar pregnancy refers to a genetic error in the fertilization process. This causes the growth of a "mole" inside the tissue--with rarely any developing embryo.

Miscarriage Treatment & Prevention

While most miscarriages are out of the mother's control, there are a few things she can do to at least cut down the chances of miscarrying. These include regular exercise, a healthy diet, managing stress, keeping her weight within a healthy limit, not smoking or drinking, taking a daily dose of folic acid, keeping the abdomen safe from the threat of impact, limiting the amount of caffeine, and avoiding physical activities that could potentially injure you (and the baby in the process).

If you do miscarry, the major concern is to prevent infection and hemorrhaging.  As soon as you detect symptoms of possible miscarriage, call your doctor immediately.  Then in the days and weeks following, be willing to discuss this with family and friends for their support. And if needed, don't be afraid to seek out a support group.

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