In just an instant, what some women wait their entire lives for can disappear.
Defined as the loss of a fetus before 20 weeks of pregnancy, miscarriage affects at least 15 to 25 percent of recognized pregnancies, according to WebMD. When factoring in instances where a woman doesn’t yet know she’s pregnant, that number may be as much as 50 percent. This little life that was inside of me had died, and I didn’t know why.
This little life that was inside of me had died, and I didn’t know why.
Miscarriage Causes: Is anyone at fault?
Unfortunately, miscarriages can happen to any woman at any time during her pregnancy. Doctors aren’t always able to determine the reasons why a miscarriage occurs; in fact, they aren’t even sure of all the possible causes for the tragic event. They do know, however, that the most common cause for miscarriage is unpreventable. In the first trimester of pregnancy, miscarriage is not caused by factors under the mother’s control.
In the first trimester of pregnancy, miscarriage is not caused by factors under the mother’s control.
Prevention: Is it possible?
Unfortunately, there’s not much a pregnant woman can do to prevent the vast majority of miscarriages. “In the first trimester of pregnancy, miscarriage is not caused by factors under the mother’s control,” says Kirven. You can, however, take action to avoid the other known miscarriage contributors. “All women who are pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant should not smoke, should eat healthy and exercise, and should take a vitamin containing folic acid to reduce their risk of miscarriage,” shares Kirven. Mothers-to-be should also avoid using illicit substances, manage their stress, and keep their weight within healthy limits.
Feelings of Blame
It’s safe to say that the majority of pregnant women want to carry their babies to full-term. When this doesn’t happen, others are sometimes quick to assign blame for why the pregnancy didn’t work out—including, as we’ve said, the mother herself. According to a survey published in the Obstetrics & Gynecology journal, 41 percent of women (out of 1,084 surveyed) felt they had done something wrong to cause the miscarriage, and 28 percent had felt ashamed. The truth is, there’s not much a woman can do to cause a miscarriage, Sindhu Srinivas, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania told Parents. As mentioned, most are caused by genetic abnormalities. This hasn’t prevented an abundance of myths and rumors regarding the cause of miscarriages from circulating, however. Sex, moderate exercise, and working are some of the most popular myths as to why miscarriage occurs, says Kirven. Getting sick in the first trimester, any previous abortions, and prior pregnancy loss are also rumored to cause miscarriage. Fortunately, it isn’t thought that any of these things will cause a miscarriage. However, it’s always a good idea to check with your obstetrician if you aren’t sure if what you’re doing is safe.
What to Do After the Miscarriage
The physical toll of a miscarriage can be significant: mild-to-severe back pain and cramping are common (a more comprehensive list of symptoms can be found here—though these symptoms don’t always mean miscarriage, you should consult your doctor). Allow yourself to grieve.
Allow yourself to grieve.
Should you try again?
The good news is this: there isn’t any evidence that suggests that having a miscarriage increases your chances of having another. In fact, the Mayo Clinic says that miscarriages are typically single occurrences: only 1 percent of women have more than one. You’ll need to tap into your emotions, however, before you get back on the wagon, says Kirven. “Know that there’s no ‘right’ time to try again,” she says. “Medically, it’s safe to attempt pregnancy as soon as you have a normal period. [But you] may or may not be emotionally ready.” Although the chances of a second miscarriage are slim, there is still that small, terrifying shot that things could go wrong. If you find yourself pregnant again, you may want to take a few steps to possibly lessen the blow should the unimaginable happen for a second time. The American Pregnancy Association recommends avoiding early preparation for the baby’s arrival. That is, consider holding off on purchasing the bulk of the items you’ll need until after your little one is born. You may also want to wait to plan your baby shower until after you have the baby. Preparing yourself for emotions you may not expect is also helpful. Feelings of sorrow from your first loss may reappear after you give birth. You may also feel hesitant to bond with this baby for fear that something will happen. Talk to your medical provider about any concerns you have regarding the pregnancy or birth. It may help you to feel better about your pregnancy and what it is to come. Miscarriage hits everyone in a different way. Ask those around you to remain flexible in the kind of support they give you, as your needs may change each day. And remember that whatever way you choose to handle the miscarriage is the right way for you.