Most people don't think a lot about miscarriages until they have personal experience with one. It can be downright shocking to discover how common miscarriages are, as well as how little is truly understood about why they happen. And naturally, the emotional experience can be anything from mildly unsettling to life-changing. If you have recently had your first encounter with miscarriages, whether it was your own or a friend/family member's, here are the key things to know about miscarriages as you move forward.
You're Not Alone
Even though you might feel like you're all alone, you're not. Miscarriages are extremely common. There are so many conflicting numbers reported, but somewhere between 15% to 30% of all confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage. Some people will have a higher risk of miscarriage than others, but a miscarriage can happen to anyone regardless of the number of risk factors that person does or does not have.
Causes of Miscarriage Are Not Well Understood
The most common cause of first-trimester miscarriages is chromosomal abnormalities in the baby, especially trisomy (three copies of one or more of the 23 chromosome pairs). Chromosomal abnormalities appear to occur randomly and usually don't recur in future pregnancies. Other causes of miscarriage might be immune problems, hormonal issues, structural problems of the uterus, infections, blood clotting disorders, or commonly, unknown causes.
Most Miscarriages Are No One's Fault and Could Not Have Been Prevented
It can be hard to accept that in this age of so much scientific knowledge and discovery that your doctor is probably not going to be able to tell you why you miscarried. But you should know it wasn't your fault, that it could have happened to anyone, and that there was probably not anything that could have prevented it from happening. (By the time a miscarriage begins, the baby has usually already passed away -- and if the cause was chromosome abnormalities, most of these are present from conception.)
Treatment May or May Not Be Necessary
Sometimes a D&C is needed after a miscarriage in order to prevent further complications. Other times you may be given a choice of how you would like to proceed, and different people have different preferences. You might prefer to wait the miscarriage out naturally to avoid intervention, or you may prefer to either have the D&C to end the physical part of the miscarriage.
It Is Perfectly Normal and Ok to Grieve
It's OK if you feel numb, angry, devastated, or anything else. Whether your miscarriage happened at 5 weeks or you had a full-term stillbirth, your feelings are valid and you should give yourself permission to have them. Support groups may be helpful in working through your grief, or if you are feeling truly overwhelmed, consider talking to a grief counselor.
Chances Are Good That Your Next Pregnancy Will Be Normal
If you have had one miscarriage, or even up to three miscarriages, the odds are still better that your next pregnancy will end with the birth of a baby than in another miscarriage. People have different preferences on when they want to try again after a miscarriage. Talk to your doctor about what's right for you. If you have had two or more consecutive miscarriages, you should talk to your doctor about testing for potentially treatable causes before you get pregnant again.
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