Miscarriage can be a tough topic to think about, especially if you are pregnant or have had a previous loss. But if this is something you have previously experienced or are going through, you may find this article helpful.
Depending on individual circumstances, miscarriage can come as a huge blow and a great loss. Lots of mums also feel lonely during this time and blame themselves. Mama, I want you to know it’s not your fault.
Answers and explanations can help but they aren’t always available and that can be very hard to accept or move on – if you don’t have an answer, please avoid blaming yourself. Below are some facts on what we do know about miscarriage. Always speak to your midwife or doctor if you have any concerns or think you may be having a miscarriage.
- 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage
- Most miscarriages occur in the first trimester (before 12 weeks of pregnancy)
- 1% to 5% of miscarriages occur in the second trimester (between weeks 13 and 19)
- Around 11 in 1,000 pregnancies are ectopic. See my article on ectopic pregnancies here
- 23 million miscarriages occur worldwide every year
- In the UK, around 1 in 100 women experience ‘recurrent miscarriage’ (3 or more in a row)
Note: Depending on the cause or medical history, it’s really important to get recurring miscarriages investigated fully as there are medications and treatments that may help.
"Answers and explanations can help but they aren’t always available and that can be very hard to accept or move on."
Signs and symptoms of miscarriage
- Vaginal bleeding/loss of fluid or clots from the vagina
- Cramping pain in the lower abdomen – similar to intense period pain
- No longer feeling the symptoms of pregnancy, although this can happen with a healthy progressing pregnancy and is not always a sign of miscarriage
- ‘Missed miscarriage’ is when women have not experienced symptoms but there is an absence of baby’s heartbeat ata routine ultrasound scan
- Sometimes there are no answers and the reason for miscarriage is not always known
- Abnormal fetal development or genetic factors
- Anatomical – such as cervical or uterine complications
Depending on the type of miscarriage you may be recommended to opt for natural management – medical or surgical. It really depends on how many weeks pregnant you are, what’s happening and what you would prefer. Speak to your midwife or doctor about your individual circumstances.
Dealing with loss
Going through a miscarriage can be extremely difficult. Kate Ferdinand bravely shared her own experience publicly recently. If you feel able to talk about your loss, it may help you to process your emotions. Plus, the more we talk to each other as women, the less lonely we tend to feel. There are also some fantastic organisations that offer support such as Baby Loss Awareness and Miscarriage Association. If you are struggling with the question “why?” – Tommy’s is a supportive and informative site that might offer some answers or comfort during this time.
Getting pregnant after miscarriage
Some women and/or their partners are eager to try again soon after. Others need longer to process what has happened and accept their loss. It’s a very individual choice. If you decide to go ahead and try again, here are some important points to consider:
- Most miscarriages are a one-off and are followed by a healthy pregnancy
- It’s best to avoid sex until all of the miscarriage symptoms have stopped
- Your periods tend to return within 4 to 8 weeks after your miscarriage. Some women take a bit longer to settle into a regular cycle
- Speak to your GP to discuss whether there are any medical reasons for waiting before trying again
"If you feel able to talk about your loss, it may help you to process your emotions."
Lowering the chance of miscarriage
I am sure you are already familiar with these but here is a brief run through of things that can help to support a healthy pregnancy.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol and illegal drugs during pregnancy
- Eat a healthy diet, including your pre-natal vitamins such as folate/folic acid, Vitamin D, DHA and any other supplements recommended to you by a clinician or healthcare professional
- Avoid foods that are not recommended during pregnancy such as: Any products containing unpasteurised milk/cream, soft cheeses with a coating on the outside such as camembert and brie as they are mould ripened, soft blue cheeses such as gorgonzola and Danish blue and soft ripened goat’s cheese (made from unpasteurised milk).
These foods can cause listeriosis – an infection caused by the bacteria listeria.
Know that in some cases no matter what you do, you may unfortunately still experience a miscarriage because causes are often entirely out of your control. By being as healthy as possible you are doing all that you can.