Miscarriage and Stillbirth
It is something that no pregnant woman wants to think about, but something many women will experience sooner or later. Miscarriage occurs in approximately 20% of known pregnancies. The actual miscarriage rate may be much higher, but because many of them occur very early in pregnancy, they sometimes occur before a woman even knows she’s pregnant, so go undetected.
Miscarriage is the loss of an unborn baby prior to 20 weeks gestation. This is the point in a pregnancy where a baby might be able to survive outside the womb. After this point in a pregnancy, a loss is considered a stillbirth. A technical distinction, but in some states stillborn babies are issues birth and death certificates, while miscarriages are not.
In most cases, it’s hard to say why a miscarriage occurs, and many women blame themselves. Perhaps they drank a glass of wine, or they are under stress, or they smoke, or don’t eat well. Rest assured, while drinking, tobacco, stress, or junk food are all unhealthy, none of them cause miscarriage, though may increase your risk. Most first trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities. In women who experience multiple miscarriages, the cause may be progesterone deficiency. This is easily corrected by progesterone creams or supplements, but may take multiple miscarriages to diagnose. Later term miscarriages (between about 13 and 20 weeks) and stillbirths are typically caused by uterine abnormalities or problems with the umbilical cord or placenta.
Symptoms of miscarriage include cramping, bleeding, back or abdominal pain, fever or weakness. Some miscarriages are discovered at the doctor’s office, when a heartbeat can’t be found or the baby appears to have stopped growing. If you’re experiencing any of these, don’t panic. Cramping, spotting and weakness can all be part of a normal pregnancy, while the baby’s position may make finding a heartbeat or getting accurate measurements difficult. Always listen to your instincts. If something feels wrong, see your doctor. If nothing is wrong, you can set your mind at ease. If something is, you need medical attention.
You may hear the term “spontaneous abortion” from medical providers regarding your miscarriage. The term “abortion” has many negative connotations, but don’t be offended. A spontaneous abortion is the medical term for a miscarriage. It simply means that the pregnancy ended on its own, before the baby could be expected to survive on its own, rather than an accusation that you did anything.
If this was an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, you may be experiencing a wide range of feelings, including relief mixed with guilt at feeling relieved. These feelings may be even more confusing and intense if you have considered having an abortion You may also be surprised to feel intense feelings of loss. All of these feelings are perfectly normal and not wanting a baby has never directly caused miscarriage (if it did, there would be no need for abortion laws or clinics). Even if you didn’t really want to be pregnant to begin with, you’ve still experienced a loss. You may find that other people try to minimize your feelings, even if the pregnancy was planned and very much wanted. Realize that this is all very normal, but do what you need to do to protect yourself. Surround yourself with people who are understanding and supportive, and minimize your contact with those who do not support you.
If someone you know has recently experienced a miscarriage, please don’t try to tell them it was for the best or that there must have been something wrong with the baby. Even if you believe it to be true, it’s not helpful. Simply listen and be there.
Image from http://miscarriage-recurrentmiscarriage.blogspot.com/
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