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Pregnancy | Your Wellbeing

Miscarriage: Symptoms, Statistics and Emotions

A miscarriage or a spontaneous abortion is the spontaneous end of a pregnancy at a stage where the embryo or foetus is incapable of surviving, generally defined in humans at prior to 20 weeks of gestation. Stillbirths and premature births are not generally considered miscarriages, though usage of the terms and causes of these events may overlap. A foetus that dies while in the uterus, after about the 20-24th week of pregnancy, is termed a stillbirth. Labour resulting in live birth before the 37th week of pregnancy is termed premature birth – even if the infant dies shortly afterward.

Dealing with a miscarriage is not easy, as a woman often feels that a child or the dream for this child is lost. Let’s take a closer look at miscarriage symptoms, miscarriage statistics and what to do after a miscarriage – both physically and emotionally.


How common is miscarriage?

Miscarriage is the most common complication of early pregnancy. Most cited references estimate that about 15% of clinically recognised pregnancies will end in miscarriage.

According to Amazing Pregnancy the statistics regarding miscarriage vary widely depending on the source. But here are some of the basic numbers:

  • Almost 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, with the majority occurring during the first 12 weeks.
  • There is a 75% chance of miscarriage in weeks 1-2 of pregnancy, when you do not know you are pregnant.
  • There is a 10% chance of miscarriage in weeks 3-6 and this number drops to 5% during weeks 6-12.
  • During the second trimester the chance of miscarriage drops again to 3%.  After you’ve reached 20 weeks gestation, it is no longer considered a miscarriage – but a stillbirth or premature birth when you loose the baby.

For repeat miscarriage the statistic are as follows:

  • If you have had a miscarriage during your first pregnancy, your chances of another miscarriage are 10-13%.
  • If you have had one or more live births and one miscarriage your chance of another miscarriage is around 10%.
  • There is a 40% chance of a repeat miscarriage if you have had two pregnancies and two miscarriages.
  • The chance of multiple miscarriages is lower, at around 13%, if you have had one or more live births.
  • If you have had three pregnancies and three miscarriages there is a 60% chance you will miscarry again. If you have had four miscarriages with no live births your chances of a healthy pregnancy drop to 0-5%.

What are the symptoms of a miscarriage?

If you experience symptoms such as bleedings which progress from light to heavy, abdominal pain, cramps, weakness, fever, vomiting and back pain, you should contact your gynae straight away. In some cases, however, these symptoms will not result in a miscarriage, and your gynae will ask you to rest in bed for several days and monitor your baby closely until the bleeding stops.

Causes of a miscarriage are not well understood, but in your first trimester they mostly occur because of chromosomal abnormalities in the baby. Factors related to mom – such as infections, hormonal problems, cervix and uterine problems, certain medication and severe malnutrition – can also cause miscarriage. When you are planning to fall pregnant it’s advisable that you speak to your gynae about what to avoid, and that you lead a healthy lifestyle.

When do I go for a D&C?

Your gynae will confirm the miscarriage by performing a pelvic exam or a scan. If the miscarriage is complete (which is more likely in an early pregnancy) your uterus should be clear. But an incomplete miscarriage generally requires a dilation and curettage. A D&C entails dilating your cervix and gently removing placental and foetal tissue in your uterus. Sometimes medication can cause your body to expel the tissue on its own, however, which can be an option for those wanting to avoid a D&C.

How to reduce the risks of miscarrying again?

According to Web MD at least 85% of women who have miscarriages have subsequent normal pregnancies and births. If you have two miscarriages in a row, however, it’s advised that you stop trying to conceive for a while and allow your gynae to perform tests to determine the cause of your miscarriages.

After one miscarriage, it’s recommended that you wait 1-3 months before trying to fall pregnant again – depending on your particular miscarriage and what your gynae advices you to do. As for prevention of another miscarriage, treatment with progesterone – a hormone needed for implantation in the uterus – could be helpful.

How do I deal with the stress of a miscarriage?

Miscarriage can bring great psychological pain. Although medical terminology does not consider the developing embryo or foetus as a child, most mothers attach to the pregnancy early on. When the miscarriage occurs, the woman loses not just a pregnancy, but a child and her dreams for that child. It’s important to take time to heal properly after a miscarriage, both physically and emotionally. Keeping it to yourself will not help in the long run, so talking about it with your partner, with other women having gone through the same thing or even with a counsellor, can help you deal with it and heal quicker.

What are common miscarriage myths?

There are many myths about causes of miscarriage, so let’s take a closer look at the most common ones and banish your worries once and for all.

  • Drinking before you know you are pregnant can not cause miscarriage. Most women do this, as they obviously don’t give it up until they know for a fact that they are pregnant. The baby doesn’t receive much blood from you in the first few weeks anyway, so this is nothing you should worry about.
  • Having sex can not cause miscarriage. Sometimes you will experience spotting after sex, but this is perfectly normal because your cervix is soft and filled with blood. Unless your gynae asks you to avoid sex – in cases of particular high-risk pregnancies – it is perfectly safe.
  • Mothers worry about their babies or have traumatic things happen to them when they are pregnant. Some people say that stress can cause miscarriage, but this is not a fact. Unusual, chronic stress might be a negative factor in some cases, but in most cases you and your baby can get through anything!
  • Exercise does not cause miscarriages, and neither does getting kicked in the stomach (by accident). The baby is well protected, and exercise benefits your body and health which in turn benefits your growing baby. There are of course rules you should follow, so take a look at our pregnancy exercises article here.
  • Lifting toddlers or something heavy is not a cause of miscarriage. Your body will complain and naturally drop whatever you are carrying before it causes any harm.
  • Bad eating habits will not cause miscarriage. Bad eating habits will cause more harm to your own body than your baby’s, as your body will rob from you what it needs for the developing baby.

According to Pregnancy Loss “over half of all miscarriages are caused by chromosomal factors that are completely out of our hands. The majority of the rest are also unrelated to anything we personally did, but some infection that got us, a poorly formed placenta or umbilical cord, a hormone problem, or a health condition we didn’t know about.” So if you are dealing with a miscarriage, always remember that you did nothing wrong and it was not your fault at all. Focus on healing and moving on, and before you know it you’ll be pregnant again and ready to welcome a healthy, happy child into the world!


8 Responses to “Miscarriage: Symptoms, Statistics and Emotions”

  1. Tammy says:

    This article is really uplifting. I had a miscarriage a few months ago; it was my first pregnancy. The loss hit everyone hard, especially my husband, who wanted so badly to be a dad. Yesterday I did a pregnancy test & it showed positive. Although it’s really amazing news, we are all so cautious this time, and I will only be relieved when I see the gynae. Just some advice for other ladies who have been through a miscarriage, don’t despair & be strong. THIS TOO SHALL PASS!

  2. Editor says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Tammy and congrats with your pregnancy – we are so happy for you!

  3. [...] There are a few advantages of having a D&C that are worth pointing out. First of all, on the emotional side, it helps you get over a miscarriage faster. Most miscarriages occur in your first pregnancy trimester, but your body might only expel the foetus three months later, and waiting for this to happen can be traumatic. A D&C completes and ends the miscarriage without dragging out a painful incident any longer than necessary. On the physical side, because a D&C completes a miscarriage faster, it shortens the amount of time you experience bleeding, cramping and other symptoms of a miscarriage. [...]

  4. desiree says:

    this article has helped me a little. In Aug 2008 i found out i was pregnant but unfortunatley i miscarriaged, it hurt like hell and it took me a year to be ok! then Nov 2009 i found out i was pregnant i was happy but scared! When i was 6 weeks i went to the gynea for my check up and there was no heart beat! it killed me again, worse than the first time. i had d&c’s both times. But now i am pregnant AGAIN!I found out on 13 Jan 2010. I am now about 6 weeks and i am going to the gynea on thursday but i am so scared! i cry myself to sleep. i am tyring to think happy thoughts but with my history its a little hard!

  5. Editor says:

    Desiree > Glad the article help you some. It does take some time to deal with a miscarriage and you need to allow yourself time to heal. Are your gynae aware of your history so that he/she can keep a close eye on you? From your side you need to try and stay calm and peaceful as it’s not good for you or the baby to stress about something that might not even happen!
    Please keep us posted!

  6. Zukisa says:

    Thanks a lot for all the encouraging info and the comments from the other mom to be. I am now encouraged, I had a D&C last night but I’m strong and believe that I will too have my baby. All the best to Desiree

  7. Tumi says:

    What an incredible article. I had a miscarriage at 7 weeks last month. It is very encouraging to know that I did nothing wrong as many people have come forth with so-called “causes” of my miscarriage. I am still trying to move on from this heartbreaking experience. Thanks for this article, I now understand that there was nothing that could be done for my unborn child.

  8. Rin says:

    I got pregnant again after 12 years. At 6 weeks, my gynae told me that she was not happy with the shape of d sac. True enough a week later I bled n miscarried. Scared to try again.

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