What is a miscarriage?

Having a miscarriage can be devastating and emotionally draining, for both the mother and father. What should have been a wondrous moment for an expectant mother can turn into one of the most frightening and lonely experiences of their lives, but there is now a wealth of information and help available for mothers who have suffered such a traumatic event.

The term miscarriage is used to describe a lost pregnancy during the first 23 weeks; most miscarriages occur within the first 12 weeks and there may be many different reasons for why a woman miscarries. Having a miscarriage does not mean that you will not be able to get pregnant again, but due to the emotional stress of losing a baby through miscarriage it is probably best to wait before trying again.

A miscarriage can differ for mothers, for some being more painful than with others who may experience only a dull ache. Some may experience bleeding where as some expectant mothers will not experience any of the common symptoms and be oblivious to the fact that they were pregnant in the first place. In such cases it is only when you have a routine scan that the miscarriage is discovered, and it can still at this stage have a traumatic effect on the woman.

How common are miscarriages?

Miscarriages are much more common than people think, though it is even now an area that is not given as much thought and attention as it deserves. It is estimated that around 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage but the numbers may be even higher as many miscarriages occur before a woman even knows she is pregnant. By using this guide to miscarriage you may be able to prevent a miscarriage from occurring by paying attention to the common symptoms and by not partaking in risky behaviours in terms of your health.

Research has cited links between random variations in the chromosomes of the baby, which form its genetic make-up, and miscarriages. If the genetic make-up is too many or too little then a miscarriage may be the end result, no matter whether or not the mother abides by a healthy routine.

When it comes to a miscarriage it is more the emotional strain of the loss that is most serious, though of course it is a devastating event when a baby is lost. The formerly expectant parents can become lonely and resentful toward one another, trying to place blame upon each other and therefore building a bridge between them. However, if a couple is able to make it through the grief of their loss then the relationship can be all the stronger for it and in many cases the next pregnancy can be a success. In fact, having three or more miscarriages one after the other is prevalent in only 1 per cent of couples.

The types of miscarriage

  • Inevitable miscarriage – A miscarriage that is definitely occurring and where there is still some pregnancy tissue remains in the womb
  • Threatened miscarriage – Bleeding during early pregnancy where the cervix opening to the womb is firmly closed. If the baby is found to have a heart beat through a ultrasound scan then the pregnancy can continue
  • Complete miscarriage – This is where there is no doubt that there has been a miscarriage. The womb will now be empty
  • Delayed miscarriage – The baby has died but the pregnancy tissue did not disperse immediately. This is when there is usually a brownish colour discharge from the vagina

The following guide offers crucial information about miscarriage, covering the following areas:

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