Miscarriage is a term used for loss of foetus in a pregnant women. It is commonly called as abortion in layman’s language. Medically speaking, miscarriage is a loss of pregnancy within the first 24 weeks of conception. Spontaneous abortion (SAB) is another word used by the doctors. Most of the miscarriages occur before the 12th week of pregnancy.
Many times the loss of foetus occurs even before the women is aware of the pregnancy. Miscarriage is quite a traumatic experience for any woman. It has a profound effect on the emotional well-being of the expectant mother.
Once a woman misses her periods and her urinary pregnancy test is positive, only one out of 6 pregnancy will miscarry. The risk of miscarriage decreases as the pregnancy progresses.
Types of miscarriage
Miscarriage may be termed as early miscarriage or late miscarriage depending on the corresponding week of pregnancy loss.
Other than these, miscarriages are of several types:
- Threatened miscarriage– In this there is bleeding from vagina other than spotting accompanied by pain in the abdomen
- Missed miscarriage – Also known as delayed or silent miscarriage. This type of miscarriage is when the baby has died in the womb or has not developed. There might be a positive pregnancy test in this type of miscarriage.
- Complete miscarriage– In this there is complete expulsion of foetus and placental tissue from the womb.
- Ectopic miscarriage– Here miscarriage occurs in pregnancy which happens outside the womb (in any other part of female reproductive tract especially in the fallopian tubes)
- Incomplete miscarriage– Here there is expulsion of some of the products of conception. The bleeding in incomplete miscarriage is heavier and is accompanied by abdominal pain.
- Recurrent miscarriage– It is also known as recurrent pregnancy loss and is defined as more than two to three consecutive pregnancy loss before 24 weeks of gestation.
- Blighted ovum-This is a condition in which the ultrasound examination shows an empty pregnancy sac with no foetus inside.This is because the fertilized egg hasn’t developed but the sac keeps growing.
Causes of miscarriages
Most of the miscarriages occur due to some abnormalities in the developing baby. Sometimes the exact cause of miscarriage is not known. Some of the causes that are identified by the doctors are:
- If the mother has some pre-existing disease such as diabetes or thyroid problem
- Hormonal changes in mother
- Weak cervix which is not able to hold the pregnancy
- Maternal or foetal infections that might harm the developing baby
- Abnormalities in the uterine cavity
- Stress and trauma
- Unsuccessful implantation of the foetus in the uterus
- Smoking, drug abuse and liquor consumption have been linked to miscarriage
- Some medications increase the risk such as misoprostol, retinoids, methotrexate, NSAIDs, etc.
Women who are at a higher risk of suffering from miscarriage are:
- Age: women above the age of 35 years are more susceptible to miscarriages.
- Obesity: women who are overweight suffer miscarriage more than those who are not.
- Previous episodes of miscarriage: women who have already suffered a miscarriage are more likely to experience a miscarriage again.
Sex during pregnancy and light physical exercise do not lead to miscarriage.
Miscarriages give out signals that should be treated as warning sign of the pregnancy is not normal:
- Vaginal bleeding which may become heavier
- Decrease symptoms of being pregnant
- A severe backache along with cramps
- Blood clots passing through the vagina
- Fever and weakness
- Giddiness and disorientation
In case you are experiencing any of the miscarriage symptoms, do not hesitate to go to the hospital immediately. Your doctor is the best person to identify the problem.
At the hospital
Your doctor will do an ultrasound test to check out the baby’s condition. If the pregnancy is very early, a transvaginal scan will be done.
Sometimes, the doctor may ask you to come again for further tests and ultrasound. This is done as it might be too early to confirm a miscarriage.
On confirmation of miscarriage
If you have suffered a miscarriage very early in your pregnancy, your body will expel the remains of the foetus itself. In case, it has occurred in late pregnancy and your miscarriage is confirmed, the doctors will have to remove surgically the foetal remains.
The surgical procedure is known as dilation and curettage (D&C). You will be given medications to control bleeding, reduce the risk of infection and help you with pain.