The Trauma of Miscarriage
Pregnancy is supposed to end in the joy of childbirth. Unfortunately, miscarriage is a very real possibility with any pregnancy. When a miscarriage occurs, grief and confusion are expected, but knowing the truth about miscarriage – that every woman is at risk and that losing one pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have a successful pregnancy later – will hopefully give you the strength that you need to withstand the experience.
Miscarriage can be a very traumatic experience although it is quite common. On average, it is expected that a woman will miscarry one in four of her pregnancies, according to Dr. Rawya Osman, gynecologist and obstetrician.
Miscarriage is a word that doctors do not normally use because it is too vague. Pregnancy losses are usually referred to as abortions which are then classified into types. The main division is between spontaneous and induced abortions. Induced abortions are the deliberate removal of the fetus when the baby is unwanted or endangering the mother’s health, Dr. Osman explains. Spontaneous abortions occur for a variety of reasons. Usually the cause is fetal death that occurs when genetic material is faulty and the cells stop splitting and growing. When attributed to this cause, doctors reassure their patients that abortion is the body’s way of getting rid of a baby that had no chance to live. There are many other reasons, however, and if you suffer from repeated abortions, you should seek a diagnosis for the cause. Miscarriage can be the result of serious maternal illness:
- Physical defects in the cervix or uterus including benign tumors or any protruding fibroids in the uterine tract if they are large enough to interfere with the implanted fetus.
- Exposure to medication or toxins.
- Hormonal factors.
- An immune response that causes the mother’s body to attack her fetus as an intruder.
Different types of spontaneous abortion:
Missed abortion: Fetal death may remain undetected for some time until the dead cells are expelled from the body. If only a part of the tissue is expelled, it is termed an incomplete abortion and a D&C procedure to remove the remaining tissue is required.
Septic abortions: are caused by severe uterine infections.
Habitual abortions: are when pregnancy loss occurs three or more times in a row.
Pre-Pregnancy Ways to Avoid Miscarriage
1. For a first pregnancy it is a good idea to review any family history of miscarriages, their causes and screen problem.
2. If you’ve had a miscarriage, obtain a proper diagnosis of the reason to identify any medical causes and avoid them the second time.
3. You and your husband should have a medical check up to detect any sexually transmitted diseases of vaginal infections. This is a mandatory procedure abroad but is not applied in Egypt.
4. Do your best to make sure you are in good health
Looking for Causes
We’ve all heard the advice that a pregnant woman shouldn’t life heavy things, stand for too long or drive the car. In reality, even though overexerting yourself is not a good idea for you and your baby, in most cases these activities will not result in a miscarriage.
Many other factors play a role in determining who will miscarry and who will not and even if you are not in one of the groups especially at risk of miscarriage, remember that it can happen to anyone.
Multiple pregnancies (being pregnant with twins, triplets or more) increase the risk of miscarriage.
In addition, age plays a role. The older the woman is, the more likely she is to miscarry because her body gets worn out and becomes less capable of sustaining another life. The best time for pregnancy is when a woman is 20-30 years of age. In much the same way that women over 35 are especially at risk, teenage pregnancies are also more likely to miscarry. A teenaged body has not yet become well equipped to carry a baby.
When treating infertile patients, a high percentage of miscarriages occur because patients have reached an advanced age, sometimes close to 40, before they seek treatment.
Invasive procedures, conducted to determine the cause of infertility, can also actually weaken the cervix making it sadly even more difficult to sustain a pregnancy. These patients tend to suffer the most when they do miscarry. They are mostly people who have tried all their lives to conceive but to no avail. They grieve the most because many of them have no children and very little time left to have them.
Signs of Trouble
If you are pregnant, it may have occurred to you that you might be at risk of miscarriage, but you might not be sure what would indicate trouble and what to do about worrisome symptoms.
Bleeding – Many women experience some spotting during pregnancy and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will lose your baby. Often women experience bleeding around the time when they would have expected their menstrual period. However, any amount of bleeding should be reported to your doctor immediately. The heavier the bleeding is, the more worrisome it is. Bright red blood is a more likely sign of miscarriage than dark brown blood. If discharge contains any sort of gray or pink tissue, the possibility of an impending miscarriage is great. If you lose any sort of tissue, save it to give it to your doctor because it can give hints at whether or not you’ve miscarried completely and possibly the cause of the bleeding.
A molar pregnancy can also be a cause of bleeding during pregnancy and needs immediate attention. In this serious condition, the placenta develops a tumor instead of a fetus. Usually a spontaneous abortion occurs, after which tests are conducted to make sure that the mole is completely gone and no tissue has moved to other parts of the body. Women experiencing a molar pregnancy have to wait until their hormone levels return to normal to get pregnant again.
Fever faintness or nausea that increase with bleeding, especially if accompanied by abdominal pain could indicate an ectopic pregnancy in which the fetus has implanted outside the uterus and requires immediate medical attention.
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