The medical definition for miscarriage is a pregnancy that ends within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. However, a medical definition in no way relays the emotions and questions that arise when a woman experiences a miscarriage.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, an estimated 10 to 25 percent of pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Sometimes further treatments are needed to ensure that a woman won’t experience future miscarriages.
Examples may include medications to ensure the body releases any remaining fetal tissue or a dilation and curettage (D & C) that will remove any remaining fetal parts as well as reduce any bleeding associated with miscarriage.
Different types of miscarriages exist. An example is ectopic pregnancy, where a fertilized egg doesn’t implant in the uterus, but instead implants into the fallopian tube or another location. Another is a blighted ovum or embryonic pregnancy where a fertilized egg implants into the uterus, but the fertilized egg doesn’t grow and develop.
One of the most devastating types is recurrent miscarriage, where a woman has three or more miscarriages in the first trimester. An estimated 1 percent of couples will experience recurrent miscarriage.
While miscarriage may be common and have many different causes, it can be a sad and sometimes painful experience. At the time, a woman may have a lot of questions for her doctor that she is afraid or uncertain to ask. Here are the 15 most common miscarriage questions a woman may be too afraid to ask related to miscarriage.
15 Will It Happen Again?
This question is one women may fear to ask because they don’t want to know the answer. However, for most women, one miscarriage incident doesn’t mean that she will have another miscarriage. According to the American Pregnancy Association, an estimated 85 percent of women who have a miscarriage will have a subsequent successful pregnancy.
While each woman may have different health considerations related to her chances of conceiving, there are some instances when she may want to consult a doctor before she tries to get pregnant again so she can minimize the risks for miscarriage.
If a woman is older than age 35, has had more than two miscarriages, has a chronic condition such as diabetes, or has experienced fertility concerns in the past, she may want to consult a fertility specialist. This specialist can conduct testing (if needed) to determine a couple’s fertility chances as well as identify ways to maximize fertility.
14 When Can I Try To Get Pregnant Again?
When this attempt at conception isn’t effective, many women wonder when they can start trying again. The answer can depend on a woman’s overall health and reason for miscarriage (if she knows it), but there are some considerations to make first.
When a woman has a miscarriage, many doctors will advise waiting a few months before trying to conceive again. During this time, a woman can focus on the steps that could help her body be more likely to support a healthy pregnancy.
Examples could include losing weight, adopting a healthier diet, reducing stress in her life, and/or ensuring her hormones are as balanced as possible. Waiting a few months also gives her time for the uterine lining to repair itself.
However, for some couples, waiting two to three months may not be enough. Sometimes doctors will recommend a couple wait until they’re sure they’ve processed the emotions that can come with pregnancy loss before trying again. This can take six months, a year, or sometimes longer.
13 Did Being Intimate Cause The Miscarriage?
A lot of rumors exist regarding intimacy during pregnancy. From causing early labor to miscarriage, doing the deed can be a taboo subject that expectant mothers may be afraid to ask their doctors about. However, for most women, being intimate while pregnant doesn’t increase the risk for a miscarriage.
Some exceptions almost always exist, and a woman should talk to her doctor and ideally her doctor talk to her about them. For example, if a woman has had a previous preterm birth, incompetent cervix, or dilated cervix, these may be reasons to refrain from intimacy at least until a doctor can get more medical information to determine if it’s safe for the couple to proceed.
One of the chief concerns surrounding intimacy during pregnancy is the contractions a woman experiences during orgasm. However, these contractions shouldn’t usually cause harm to the baby. A baby is cushioned and protected against all sorts of occurrences as well as having a cervical mucus plug that protects the baby from the outside world.
12 Did My Bad Habits Cause The Miscarriage?
It’s true that a baby needs a healthy environment to develop. That’s why doctors emphasize healthy choices and healthy living to facilitate a healthy pregnancy. Examples of habits that could contribute to a miscarriage are smoking and illegal drug use.
A mother nourishes her baby through an organ known as the placenta that grows only in pregnancy. A mother’s blood and the nutrients and oxygen in it are then transmitted to the baby. Adults have developed livers, kidneys, hearts, and lungs that are better-equipped to handle substances like nicotine that are toxic.
However, developing babies unfortunately aren’t. For example, a baby’s body can’t eliminate cocaine from its system as quickly as an adult’s can. The substance remains in the baby’s system, causing damage. Using a drug like this early in pregnancy increases a woman’s miscarriage risk.
Use of illegal drugs has been associated with pregnancy complications beyond miscarriage, including low birth weight, early labor, fetal death, and placental abruption. If a woman smokes or abuses drugs (legal or illegal), she should tell her doctor when she finds out she’s pregnant. There are support services and even medications that are safer for baby and can reduce miscarriage risk.
11 Could I Have Had A Miscarriage And Not Known It?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, an estimated 75 percent of all miscarriages that occur are chemical pregnancies. This term doesn’t mean that a chemicals have caused the miscarriage, but instead that a woman miscarries around the time of her pregnancy and doesn’t even really know she was ever pregnant.
A fertilized egg will usually implant in the uterus about three weeks after a woman last had her period. However, for some reason or another, a chemical pregnancy can occur. Many times this could be due to a chromosome abnormality where changes to the fertilized egg’s chromosomes mean the pregnancy couldn’t continue.
Other potential factors for a chemical pregnancy include a history of a clotting disorder, mom’s age is greater than 35, or history of a thyroid disorder.
It’s hard to distinguish between a chemical pregnancy and a period. However, heavy bleeding, significant menstrual cramping, and passing tissue can all indicate a potential miscarriage due to a chemical pregnancy. Experiencing spotting and/or light bleeding after a positive pregnancy test doesn’t mean that a woman has had or will have a miscarriage.
10 Why Do I Feel So Sad?
According to Psychology Today, women who have experienced a miscarriage are more likely to experience a major depressive disorder than women who have never been pregnant. Even with a supportive partner and family and armed with the knowledge that miscarriage likely won’t happen again, it’s completely normal to feel sad and even depressed.
While it can be difficult for a woman to admit, sometimes she needs outside and expert help in sorting through the emotions that come with miscarriage. Examples could include supportive counseling, which has been shown to reduce depression, grief, and anger related to miscarriage.
Signs a woman may be need counseling or additional support include when the following symptoms last past several weeks: difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, increased irritability, feelings of hopelessness, and feelings of anxiety and/or panic. These are very treatable symptoms that a woman shouldn’t have to suffer after she experiences a pregnancy loss.
9 Why Did My Body Let Me Down?
Even when a woman has all the facts regarding miscarriage, it’s easy for her to second-guess herself regarding things she could have done differently. She may wonder if she hadn’t gone on that run or worn a pair of pants that were too tight, would things be different.
She may also have a hard time reconciling the fact that her mind very much wanted the baby, yet her body could not carry it through a healthy pregnancy.
Unfortunately, there are some aspects of a woman’s health and pregnancy that are beyond her control. And while it may take time to accept, it’s important to re-iterate that a woman shouldn’t blame herself, that miscarriage is common, and that her body likely will not let her down for a second time should she choose to try and get pregnant again.
8 Was The Miscarriage My Fault?
According to a study published in the journal “Obstetrics and Gynecology” 20 percent of men and women surveyed (mistakenly) believed one of the following could lead to miscarriage: 1. Past diseases and STIs, 2. History of having an abortion, 3. History of using an IUD for birth control, 4.
Getting into an argument with a spouse, or 5. Not wanting the pregnancy could all lead to miscarriage. None of these factors can lead to miscarriage, and it certainly isn’t a woman’s “fault” if she has a miscarriage.
While researchers may not know all the exact triggers that lead to miscarriage, what they do know is that it is largely out of a woman’s control if the fertilized egg cannot successfully grow. Pregnancy and having a baby is a long series of intricate steps on the part of the body and the growing fetus.
7 Was The Miscarriage My Partner’s Fault?
A woman can experience a number of feelings and emotions related to her relationship with her partner after a miscarriage. One common misconception related to partners and miscarriage is that if a partner isn’t as supportive or excited as the mother about the pregnancy, a miscarriage could occur. However, for the most part a miscarriage is related to chromosomal abnormalities.
If a woman has experienced recurrent (more than one) miscarriages when trying to conceive with the same partner, the couple may wish to seek care at a reproductive specialist. It’s possible that a man’s sperm may not be shaped in such a way that they are most effective.
As a result, a woman may be able to conceive, but the abnormal shape and DNA of the sperm may result in miscarriage. It is possible to have sperm quality tested to determine if the recurrent miscarriage could be due to abnormalities in the male sperm.
6 Does This Mean I’m In Bad Health
Experiencing a miscarriage can cause a woman to question if her health can support a growing baby. There are some medical conditions that can increase a woman’s miscarriage risk, according to WebMD. These include chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
History of or current infections of German measles or cytomegalovirus can also increase miscarriage risk as can thyroid disease, lupus, and autoimmune disorders. If a woman has these or other similar conditions, she should talk to her doctor about any changes she could potentially make that may improve her chances of carrying a baby to term.
Healthy habits are not only beneficial to a woman overall, they may also boost her chances for a healthy pregnancy. Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight are all steps that can help a woman feel better and potentially increase her chances of conception and successfully carrying a baby to term.
5 Am I Too Old To Get Pregnant?
According to “The New York Times,” the average age of first-time mothers in 2014 was 26.3. In 1970, this was 21.4. Women are waiting longer and longer to conceive and start their families. And while some may need the assistance of fertility medications and in vitro fertilization, more stories are emerging of women getting pregnant well into their fourth decade of life.
According to the Mayo Clinic, age is a factor in miscarriage. For example, women age 35 to 39 have a 20 percent risk for miscarriage while women at age 40 to 44 have a 40 percent risk. At age 45, women have an 80 percent risk for miscarriage. Advancing age affects the quality of eggs that are fertilized, which impacts a woman’s ability to carry a pregnancy to term.
4 How Do I Know The Baby Is Out?
Sometimes a woman will find out she is going to miscarry before it actually occurs. A doctor may not see the fetus’ heart beating or hormone tests may indicate the pregnancy isn’t progressing. At this time, miscarrying can take a few weeks, resulting in cramping and bleeding as the body attempts to remove the embryo that did not grow.
A woman may notice some discharge that appear gray in color along with blood clots.
However, some women don’t wish to wait this time for the effects of miscarriage to occur. Doctors can prescribe medications that encourage uterine contractions that will result in the body expelling the tissue more quickly. Another option is a procedure known as dilation and curettage.
This is reserved for women who are having a lot of pain and/or bleeding related to miscarriage. A doctor may want to perform a follow-up ultrasound to ensure all portions of the fetal tissue have passed. While this can be difficult to go through, it is important to ensure all the tissue is gone so the uterus can heal for a potential future pregnancy.
3 Was The Baby A “Real” Baby?
In their desire to make a woman “feel better,” well-meaning friends and family may tell a woman the baby wasn’t yet a real baby. This can be a callous oversimplification of what a baby means to a woman and often her partner.
While science, the government, and medical experts may debate the developing fetus, what is most important is a woman’s personal definition of a baby. To many mothers who miscarry, the growing ball of cells was a little one in whom they had created many hopes and dreams for. They have a deep connection and desire for that baby.
This makes the baby just as real as anything else in the world. And the feelings of loss that come with it are very real. No matter what time a woman lost the baby, it is perfectly normal to feel a connection and sense of sadness over the loss of the baby.
2 What If I Don’t Want To Try For Another Baby
A woman can be very surprised as to how much hope a small embryo can bring to her and her partner’s life. Losing a baby can bring feelings such as “I don’t want a baby, I wanted that baby.” It can also call into question if a woman is willing to put herself through the potential stress and sorrow of attempting to conceive again, only to miscarry.
It doesn’t mean that a woman wasn’t meant to be a mother if she has a miscarriage. And it doesn’t mean a woman has to be a mother if she decides she doesn’t want to try again. The choice is individual. However, before making the decision for good, a woman may wish to seek grief counseling and/or fertility counseling.
1 Where Do I Go From Here?
Mentally preparing one’s self to go through the process of trying to conceive again can be an extreme undertaking for someone who has had a miscarriage. One of the most important steps can be taking the time to fully grieve and recover from the loss.
Seeking out a support group, talking to a counselor, or talking to a friend can all be helpful steps in starting the healing process. Sometimes a mom may want to take some time before talking to others about the miscarriage, and that’s okay too. Women may also benefit from doing something to memorialize the baby, such as planting a tree or favorite flower in honor of the baby.
It’s important after a miscarriage for a woman to know that she doesn’t have to have all the answers right away. She can give herself time to heal and start the conversations and considerations about trying to conceive again when she’s ready.
Sources: American Pregnancy, Psychology Today, WebMD, New York Times, Mayo Clinic