A miscarriage is the term used when when someone loses their pregnancy in the first 20 weeks. Sometimes, it is also called a spontaneous abortion. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies will ultimately end in a miscarriage. Out of these, 80 percent of them occur within just the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
According to the experts, 50 to 70 percent of miscarriages that happen during the first trimester are because there are chromosomal abnormalities in the fertilized egg. For the most part, this means that the egg or the sperm did not contain the right number of chromosomes, so the egg was not able to develop as it should have. Once your doctor says that you are going to miscarry, the next step is to figure out what to do next. While a miscarriage is a traumatic time for many couples, knowing what to expect can help you get through your loss.
What Should You Do If You Know That You Will Miscarry?
While cramping and bleeding are not always a sign of a miscarriage, they are often indicators that you are about to miscarry. If you experience bleeding or cramping while you are pregnant, you should make an appointment with your doctor right away. He or she will give you a thorough exam to see where the bleeding is coming from and to check your uterus. Sometimes, your doctor will also want to do a blood test to make sure that your hCG levels are as high as they should be. He or she may retest in several days to make sure that your hCG levels are still rising like they ought to be in early pregnancy.
If your doctor is not certain that you will miscarry, they may recommend that you stick to bed rest. While there is no proof that this will help, it is often recommended by doctors in the hopes that it will lower your chances of miscarrying. Your doctor may also recommend that you wait to have sex again until the bleeding and cramping have passed. Again, there is no indication that this will actually prevent a miscarriage, but it is better to act out of an abundance of caution.
What Happens During a Miscarriage?
If you are currently in the process of a miscarriage, you may go through bleeding and light cramping for several weeks. You should not use tampons to stop the bleeding because your cervix is more open than usual, which means that it is also more prone to infections. Acetaminophen can help with the pain, and you should stick to pads. Often, the bleeding and cramping of a miscarriage will become worse right before the tissue is passed through your body. Known as the products of conception, this tissue contains fetal tissue, embryonic tissue and the placenta. It will often look gray in color and have some blood clots.
What Happens After a Miscarriage?
There are several things that you can do after a miscarriage. To start with, you can either let the tissue pass naturally or get a medical procedure to remove all of the tissue. Often, your doctor will check to make sure that all of the tissue is removed from your body. If it is not, then he or she may do a procedure to remove what remains. If your health is not at risk, most doctors will let the tissue pass naturally from your body.
An estimated half of women who discover that their pregnancy is not viable will spontaneously miscarry within a week. Sometimes, your doctor will set a time limit and recheck to see if you have finished miscarrying. If not, they will do a procedure to help. Your doctor may also provide medication to help the tissue leave your body faster, but this medication includes side effects like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Even with medication, you may still need to go through surgery to have the tissue removed completely.
If you are in too much emotional or physical pain, your doctor may remove the remaining tissue with a procedure known as suction curettage or a dilation and curettage (D&C). If there is a risk of an infection or significant bleeding, your doctor may recommend that you have a D&C right a way. They may also recommend that you do the procedure if you have had multiple miscarriages in the past so that they can test the tissue for genetic abnormalities and find out what is causing the miscarriages.
Physically Recovering From a Miscarriage
After the procedure, you will typically experience cramps like the ones you normally have during your period for a day or two later. You may then have light bleeding for one to two weeks. During this time, it is important that you do not use tampons, douches or vaginal medications because they can increase your risk of an infection. You are also told not to have sex or go swimming for several weeks until the bleeding has completely stopped.
If you show signs of an infection like a fever, you should go to the doctor immediately. Other symptoms like bleeding heavily or excessive pain are also signs that you should go to the emergency room. Likewise, you should go to the emergency room if you feel lightheaded, go into shock or feel abnormally weak.
Coping With the Loss of a Child
Every woman has a different reaction to a miscarriage. While some women can just move on, it is a traumatic time for many women. Some women focus their energy on trying to conceive again, while other women have to wait for months before they can even think of having another child. During this time, it is important to talk to your partner about your feelings and get the support of your loved ones. If you are feeling especially overwhelmed, you can always talk to a therapist as well.