Miscarriage – not all hope is lost

A miscarriage is a pregnancy that ends after 20 weeks. It’s also the loss of a life and the loss of a dream, and, along with that sense of loss comes the worry that you may never have another child. This is normal: a miscarriage is devastating, no matter how far along you are in your pregnancy. But you’re not alone, as miscarriage is actually fairly common – it affects about 15% to 20% of pregnancies. While the loss of a baby usually can’t be prevented, it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. Read on to find out what causes miscarriages, and how you can move past the trauma. 

 

What causes a miscarriage? 

Most miscarriages occur in the first trimester, and half of all miscarriages are due to a defect in the foetus’ early development. Some miscarriages have other causes, such as problems with the uterus or cervix, viral infections like German measles, medical issues like uncontrolled diabetes, and lifestyle factors such as smoking and heavy drinking.  

You can’t stop a miscarriage. Early signs to look out for include:

  • Having pain similar to menstrual cramps.
  • Bleeding (light bleeding during early pregnancy doesn’t necessarily signal a miscarriage, but you should always contact your doctor if any bleeding – light or heavy – occurs). 
  • Lower backache that ranges from mild to severe. 
  • A discharge of fluid from your vagina. 

Occasionally, symptoms may get worse and it can be a medical emergency (ectopic pregnancy). This is rare but look out for severe abdominal pain (usually on one side), pain in your shoulder tip, and diarrhoea and vomiting. If you’re at all worried, head to the hospital. 

 

What happens next? 

If your doctor suspects a miscarriage they will perform an internal exam to see whether the miscarriage is complete or incomplete. If the miscarriage is complete, you will be discharged. If they’re not sure, you may need to have an ultrasound.  

If the scan shows that your placenta is still there, you may be given three options: 

1. Wait and see monitoring.

2. Medication to induce a delivery to ensure the uterus is completely empty. This requires monitoring and usually a return to hospital. 

3. A D&C operation which will require a stay in hospital afterwards for a few hours. 

 

Life after a miscarriage 

A miscarriage is a traumatic event, and it takes time for the emotional scarring to heal. You may need to talk to someone about what you’ve been through, and you may be scared to fall pregnant again. Just know that having a miscarriage doesn’t mean it will happen again. 

It’s true that women who have had more than one miscarriage are at higher risk, but the odds aren’t against you – in fact, most women who miscarry go on to have healthy pregnancies after miscarriage. In all likelihood you’ll be able to fall pregnant again, and realise your dream of bringing a new life into the world.