A miscarriage is the loss of a baby before 20 weeks of pregnancy, it affects one in five pregnant women and if it occurs during a first pregnancy, it can be particularly devastating. While postnatal depression is something that has been highlighted in the media recently, the difficulties of coping with a miscarriage tend not to receive the same degree of attention.
Types of miscarriage
There are several types of miscarriage – threatened, inevitable, complete, missed or incomplete. Many women may wonder if miscarriage was their fault, however in most cases, it has nothing to do what you have or haven’t done.
Most women also never find out the exact cause, however what we do know is that miscarriages often happens because the baby fails to develop properly. This is usually due to a chromosomal abnormality, but it can also be caused by things like hormonal abnormalities, immune system problems, severe infections causing a high fever, physical problems with a woman’s cervix or womb, or medical conditions like diabetes and thyroid problems.
Other types of non- progressive pregnancies include an ectopic pregnancy. This is when the embryo implants itself outside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. A molar pregnancy results when the pregnancy fails to develop properly from conception, and the placenta overgrows, and an anembryonic pregnancy which occurs when the gestational sac develops, but there is no baby inside.
There is a range of risk factors that can cause a miscarriage, including if you are older, smoke, drink alcohol in the first trimester, drink too much caffeine, or have had several previous miscarriages. If you have had recurrent miscarriages (three or more in a row), we will suggest you undertake testing to find out the specific cause.
Living healthily can lower the risk of a miscarriage, and it’s also a good idea to avoid contact with people who have infectious diseases when you are pregnant. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to prevent or halt many miscarriages.
Ask for help
Coping can be extremely difficult if an early pregnancy does not go as planned, particularly when the hopes and aspirations for a baby don’t eventuate. For this reason, we encourage pregnant women who have experienced a miscarriage to be aware of the potential for mood changes, including the feelings of anxiety or depression. They should also stay in close contact with their GP if they notice any alterations in their sense of wellbeing, and in particular, irregular or interrupted sleep patterns.
If you have experienced a miscarriage, the support of partners, friends and health professionals can be very comforting. Which is why it’s vital you let our team know early so that we can address any issues quickly. It’s also important to understand that having one miscarriage does not put you at any greater risk of it happening again in the future. Most women who have miscarriages can still have a successful pregnancy in the future. Ultrasounds and blood tests early on in your pregnancy can also provide you with reassurance, and most women can go on to experience the unforgettable joy of having a happy, healthy baby.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss this topic further, please get in touch and make an appointment with Dr Terry Sheahan today.