A miscarriage can really be traumatic. Miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy from conception to 20 weeks’ gestation. Miscarriage is quite different from stillbirth and abortions. Miscarriage is sometimes referred to as spontaneous abortion, because the medical term abortion means the ending of a pregnancy, whether intentional or unintentional.
Most miscarriages occur in the first trimester of pregnancy, from seven to twelve weeks after conception.
The exact cause for miscarriages is not certain, though, the most common cause of pregnancy loss is a problem with the chromosomes that would prevent the fetus to develop normally. Other factors that could contribute to a miscarriage include: abnormal hormone levels in the mother, such as thyroid hormone and diabetes. Some viral infections, can also increase the risk of miscarriage.
Read also: How to Diagnose Cervical Incompetence
There’re risk factors for miscarriage which include the following:
- Older maternal age
- Cigarette smoking
- Moderate to high alcohol consumption
- Trauma to the uterus
- Radiation exposure
- Previous miscarriage
- Maternal weight extremes (BMI either below 18.5 or above 25 kg/m2)
- Anatomical abnormalities of the uterus
- Illicit drug use
Types of miscarriage
- Threatened abortion: a woman may experience vaginal bleeding or others signs of miscarriage
- Incomplete abortion: some of the products of conception (fetal and placental tissues) have been expelled from the uterus, but some remain.
- Complete abortion: all of the tissue from the pregnancy has been expelled
- Missed abortion: the fetus has not developed, so there is no viable pregnancy, but there is placental tissue and/or fetal tissue contained within the uterus
- Septic abortion: a miscarriage in which there is infection in the presence of retained fetal and/or placental tissue.
Signs and symptoms of a miscarriage
Vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain are the notable symptoms of miscarriage. If you’re pregnant and notice this, please, consult your doctor. Not all bleedings in pregnancy is a red flag, bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy is very common and does not typically signify a miscarriage. The pain tends to be dull and cramping, and it may come and go or be present constantly. Sometimes, there is passage of fetal or placental tissue. This material may appear whitish and covered with blood. The bleeding may be associated with the passage of blood clots.
If you soak more than two pads an hour or have severe cramping, contact your doctor immediately.
The doctor will take a look at your cervix to see if it is open. They will check your hCG levels to see where you are at in your pregnancy and then repeat the tests to see if the levels go up or down. If they go up your pregnancy is most likely progressing and if the levels drop you are most likely having a miscarriage. You will probably have an ultrasound to check for a heartbeat and make sure the pregnancy is not in your tubes.
How to diagnose
Normally, an ultrasound examination is carried if a woman has symptoms of a miscarriage. The ultrasound can determine if the pregnancy is intact and if a fetal heartbeat is present. Ultrasound examination can also reveal whether the pregnancy is an ectopic pregnancy (located outside of the uterus, typically in the Fallopian tube), which may have similar symptoms and signs as miscarriage. Other tests that may be performed include blood tests for pregnancy hormones, blood counts to determine the degree of blood loss or to see whether infection is present, and a pelvic examination.
Nothing can prevent a miscarriage from happening once it has begun. Some medical advise can be recommended like; having a bed rest, abstain from sexual activity, and restrict all physical activity until any warning signs are no longer present. Once a miscarriage occurs, there is no treatment available. In many cases, the miscarriage will take its course, and unless there is severe pain and cramping, pain relieving tablets, such as paracetamol can be used.
Read also:How to Remedy Menstrual Pains/Cramps
If a miscarriage does not completely clear the pregnancy tissue from the uterus, a procedure known as a dilatation and curettage (D&C) can be performed to remove the remaining pregnancy material.
If a miscarriage is due to infection, antibiotic treatment will be given.