Losing a baby in pregnancy is one of the most difficult things that can ever happen to a couple. Many a time, people even don’t want to talk about it. It is taboo to even mention it in some cultures. Most women blame themselves for this incidence even though it may not be their fault. It is estimated that 2 out of 10 women worldwide will lose their babies due to miscarriage. In this article, we take a deeper look at miscarriage and how to prevent it in our own little ways.
Spontaneous abortion is another term for miscarriage because it happens naturally without any awareness about it. It refers to the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks. Eight out of ten miscarriages happen in the first trimester( 3 months after conception). This is because that is the period when the organs begin to form. It is the foundation upon which the baby develops and grows. The risk of having a miscarriage decrease after the first semester. Different types of miscarriages can happen at different stages of pregnancy. The symptoms will depend on the type.
Abortion is the termination of pregnancy whether natural or induced whilst miscarriage is an abortion that occurs naturally.
Types of miscarriages
1. Threatened miscarriage
In this type, a woman may begin to have vaginal bleeding or lower abdominal pain. This is your body’s way of informing you that something may be wrong. After examination, it might be observed that the cervix is still closed and it will last for some days or weeks.
NB; The cervix is the entry into the uterus(womb). If it is closed, then the fetus(baby) may still be safe. Under normal conditions, it should be closed until labour.
The bleeding and pain may go away on their own which means you can escape a miscarriage and have a healthy baby. The other scenario can occur where the symptoms get worse and you may end up losing your baby.
Not much can be done if this happens. Midwives or doctors recommend bed rest as one waits for the outcome.
2. Inevitable miscarriage
This may come without any warning or after a threatened miscarriage. There is heavy vaginal bleeding and stronger lower stomach cramps. After examination, it is observed that the cervix is open. Since the entry into the womb is opened, it means the developing fetus(baby) is expected to pass out soon and nothing can be done to save the baby.
3. Complete and Incomplete miscarriage
As the name suggests, there is initially vaginal bleeding and all the products from the womb come out through the cervix. After examination, it is observed that all the pregnancy tissues came out and there is nothing left.
Sometimes, some pregnancy tissues will remain in the uterus after the bleeding. It is important to see a midwife or doctor to be certain that there is nothing left as it would cause complications if left in the womb.
4. Missed miscarriage
This happens when a baby dies but continues to stay in the womb(uterus) unlike inevitable miscarriage when the fetus(baby) is alive but nothing can be done to stop it from coming out. Sometimes, the bleeding may not be significant and you will only realize the baby has died after a routine visit to the hospital. This condition is fatal to the mother. It is one of the reasons why women must never miss their appointments, especially during the first three months.
Causes of miscarriage
If you are or plan on becoming pregnant, you may be concerned about the risks of miscarriage. Many a time, you do not have control over what happens. However, some lifestyle choices may increase your risk.
· Abnormal chromosomes
Chromosomes contain the genes that determine your baby’s physical appearance such as the eye, hair and skin colour, height etc. hence, if there is a fault with the number or quality of these genes, it can cause miscarriage. Most miscarriages are caused by abnormal chromosomes. Examples of such chromosomal abnormalities include
a.Blighted ovum- no embryo forms. To learn more about this, tap on ….
b. Molar pregnancy- this occurs when both sets of chromosomes come from the father and none from the mother. Normally, the mother must contribute one set of chromosome as well as the father.
c. Partial molar pregnancy- the father brings two sets of chromosomes in addition to the set of the mother.
These are major changes that will stop the child from developing even if it forms. There are no ways to prevent these mistakes from happening as parents. Nevertheless, as one age, chromosomal problems increases and miscarriage goes up.
· Medical conditions
The health of the woman is paramount in miscarriage. Infections such as diabetes, hypertension, problems with the uterus, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and blood clotting issues may increase the risk. Regardless, these individuals can have a healthy baby if they follow instructions given to the latter.
Some drugs especially the ones that a woman takes on her own may increase the risk of a miscarriage. Even the ones being prescribed to you must be carefully examined before ingesting.
· Poor lifestyle
The lifestyle of the mother can influence the health of the baby. Ill behaviours of mothers may also result in miscarriage.
- Smoking- It has been asserted that smoking even among fathers may increase the risk of pregnancy. Smoking is known to cause damage to genes and alter DNA. Hence, it is prudent to quit smoking even before a person decides to be pregnant.
2. Heavy drinking- Alcohol drinking can cause babies to have abnormal facial features hence, it is important to quit drinking during pregnancy. A beautiful baby is all we all want, right?
· Environmental hazards
There is no doubt that the environment affects us. Substances in the environment such as lead and arsenic found in some old water pipes and some well water respectively will put the baby at risk. Simple substances such as solvents from stain removers, paint thinners and degreasers may increase the risk for a miscarriage if present for a long time.
It is important to note that, every woman has a different body and different genetic make-up because they are unique. Thus, what may affect one individual will not affect the other.
Food poisoning- some food poisoning illnesses such as toxoplasmosis can infect the unborn child even if the woman does not experience symptoms. Foods must be thoroughly cooked in a hygienic environment to reduce the risk of a miscarriage. Remember, that another human is formed and growing within you, so maximum attention, care and safety must be applied.
There are certain misconceptions about the cause of miscarriages. Below are a few:
Working- working will not cause miscarriage unless you stress yourself continuously.
Exercise- Exercise is good for pregnant women but you have to learn what is right for you and how long you should exercise.
Having sex- sex is a form of exercise and it helps to increase the size of the vagina to allow easy passage during birth.
Eating certain foods- women crave different kinds of food during pregnancy. It is okay to eat if they are healthy and properly cooked.
Miscarriage is a problem that most of the times, we have no control over. If it happens to you, do not be ashamed. You can still have a baby if you try again. The only thing women can do is to follow doctor’s or midwife’s instructions, live a healthy lifestyle and visit the clinic regularly.
- Dugas C, Slane VH. Miscarriage. [Updated 2021 Jan 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532992/
- World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/spotlight/why-we-need-to-talk-about-losing-a-baby
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