ChristianaCare supports women and their partners who have experienced pregnancy loss or miscarriage. A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 20 weeks. The loss of a pregnancy can be very hard to accept. You may wonder why it happened or blame yourself. It may be reassuring to understand that it is no one’s fault.
Lots of very complex things have to happen to lead to a new life. One of the most common reasons for pregnancy loss is an error in that complex process; frequently we find either too many or too few of the chromosomes essential to life.
What causes a pregnancy loss?
Most pregnancy loss happens because the fertilized egg in the uterus does not develop normally. It is not caused by stress, exercise or sex.
As perspective, miscarriages are common. For women who already know they are pregnant, about 1 out of 6 have a miscarriage. It is also common for a woman to have a miscarriage before she even knows that she is pregnant.
The risk of loss is lower after the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy. For women who have had one miscarriage, the likelihood of a healthy next pregnancy is really positive.
What are the common symptoms?
Common signs of a miscarriage include:
- Bleeding from the vagina. The bleeding may be light or heavy, constant or off and on. It can sometimes be hard to know whether light bleeding is a sign of miscarriage, so contact your doctor or midwife if you experience bleeding.
- Pain in the belly, lower back, or pelvis.
- Tissue that passes from the vagina.
How is a miscarriage diagnosed?
Call your doctor or midwife if you think you are having a miscarriage. If your symptoms and a pelvic exam do not show whether you are having a miscarriage, your health care provider can do tests to see if you are still pregnant.
How is it treated?
As long as you do not have heavy blood loss, a fever, weakness, or other signs of infection, your health care provider may advise that you can let a miscarriage follow its own course. This can take several days.
If you have Rh-negative blood, your health care provider will recommend a shot of Rhogam. This prevents problems in future pregnancies. If you have not had your blood type checked, you will need a blood test to find out if you are Rh-negative.
If you are having a miscarriage, work with your doctor or midwife to watch for and prevent problems. If the uterus does not clear quickly enough, you could lose too much blood or develop an infection. In this case, medicine or a procedure called a dilation and curettage (D&C) can more quickly clear tissue from the uterus.
After a miscarriage, are you at risk for miscarrying again?
Miscarriage is usually a chance event, not a sign of an ongoing problem. If you have had one miscarriage, your chances for future healthy pregnancies are good.
If you are concerned about miscarriage, speak with your physician or midwife.
What about the emotional side of pregnancy loss?
Grief and the range of emotions that goes with it is natural. Navigating pregnancy loss can be a complex journey, but with support and time, families can heal and continue to thrive, while still remembering and honoring their loss.
ChristianaCare offers support for women who have experienced a miscarriage. Contact the Center for Women’s Emotional Wellness at 302-733-6662 or call ChristianaCare’s 24-hour Crisis Line at 302-320-2118.