Miscarriage or Spontaneous Abortion: Everything You Need To Know

What is a miscarriage?

A miscarriage, also known as spontaneous abortion, is the loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. In the simplest term, it is an unexpected end of a pregnancy. Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester of a pregnancy or the first three months and can occur for various medical reasons, many of which are beyond the woman’s control. Sometimes, a woman may suffer a spontaneous abortion before she even realizes she’s pregnant. A miscarriage may not necessarily mean a woman has underlying fertility issues. Most women who had suffered miscarriages have subsequent normal pregnancies and births. However, knowing the risk factors, symptoms, and causes, on the other hand, will help you better understand the incident and seek the necessary support or treatment.

Miscarriage types:

Spontaneous abortion comes in a variety of forms. Your doctor will identify your issue as one of the following, depending on your symptoms and the stage of your pregnancy:

  • Complete: All of your pregnancy tissues are expelled from your body. This typically occurs before the 12th week of pregnancy. 
  • Missed: Although the embryo dies or never forms, the tissues remain in your uterus. 
  • Recurrent miscarriage (RM): During the first trimester, you lose three or more pregnancies in a row. Only approximately 1% of couples attempting to have a baby have this sort of miscarriage.
  • Threatened miscarriage: You’re bleeding, and a miscarriage is a possibility, but your cervix hasn’t dilated. Your pregnancy will most likely go on without a hitch. 
  • Inevitable: You’re dripping blood and cramping. You have a dilated cervix. It’s very likely that you’ll have a miscarriage.
  • Incomplete miscarriage: In an incomplete miscarriage, some of the baby’s or placenta’s tissue leaves your body, while some remains in your uterus.
  • Septic: a miscarriage caused by an infection in the uterus, which results in the retention of fetal and/or placental tissue 

Warning signs of spontaneous abortion

Spotting or bleeding, which can range from a small brownish discharge to a large amount of blood. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • cramping and pain in the abdomen
  • contractions
  • mild to severe back pain
  • feeling faint or light-headed
  • weight loss
  • tissue or clotted discharge from the vagina
  • fluid discharge from the vagina

If you’re expecting a child and are having any of these symptoms, see your doctor, midwife, or antenatal clinic right away. 

How would you know it’s a miscarriage:

To check whether you’ve had a spontaneous abortion, your doctor will do:

  • A Pelvic Exam: They’ll examine your cervix to see if it’s begun to dilate.
  • An Ultrasound Test: Sound waves are used to look for a baby’s heartbeat in this test.
  • Blood Tests: They’re used by your doctor to check for pregnancy hormones in your blood and compare them to previous levels. If you’ve been bleeding a lot, they may run tests to see if you have anemia.
  • Tissue Tests: If tissue from your miscarriage has left your body, your doctor may send it to a lab for confirmation. It can also help rule out the possibility that your symptoms are due to something else. 
  • Chromosome Tests: If you’ve had two or more spontaneous abortions, your doctor may order these tests to check if your genes or those of your partner are to blame.

Disruption of blood supply from the mother to the infant occurs if the placenta develops improperly. 

Causes of miscarriage

Causes of spontaneous abortion are;

  • Placental problems: The blood supply from the mother to the infant is disrupted if the placenta develops improperly. 
  • Lifestyle factors: Unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or using illegal drugs can lead to miscarriage.
  • Womb structure abnormalities: The development of fibroids (non-cancerous growths) in the womb, as well as abnormally shaped wombs, can put a developing fetus at risk. 
  • Chromosome problems: A fetus may receive the incorrect number of chromosomes, resulting in improper development. Miscarriages in the first trimester are mostly due to chromosomal abnormalities in the baby.
  • Weakened cervix: The cervix is the womb’s neck. When the cervix muscles are weak, they can open too early during pregnancy, leading to a miscarriage. 
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): When the ovaries are overly large, it causes a hormonal imbalance. 

Apart from the above, spontaneous abortion is also a factor of underlying health issues in pregnant women, including:

  • gonorrhea
  • high blood pressure
  • chlamydia
  • syphilis
  • diabetes
  • rubella
  • kidney disease
  • malaria
  • lupus
  • thyroid gland problems
  • coeliac disease
  • HIV

What does NOT cause miscarriage:

These types of activity do not cause a miscarriage: 

  • Working, as long as no dangerous substances or radiation are present. If you worry about work-related dangers, talk to your doctor. 
  • Exercise, such as jogging and cycling.
  • Sexual intercourse.

Prevention of spontaneous abortion

Healthy lifestyle changes can minimize the risk of miscarriage:

  • Avoid smoking, alcohol, and illicit drugs.
  • Take a healthy diet.
  • Limit your caffeine intake: According to a recent study, drinking more than two caffeinated beverages per day was linked to an increased chance of miscarriage. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight pre and post-pregnancy.
  • Take a daily multivitamin.
  • Avoid certain infections, such as German measles (rubella).
  • Seek regular prenatal care.

Treatment for spontaneous abortion

The treatment for a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion varies depending on the type you’ve experienced. There is no need for therapy if there is no pregnancy tissue left in your body (complete miscarriage). If you still have some tissue in your body, you have a few alternatives for treatment: 

  • Expectant Management: This is where you wait for the residual tissue to leave your body on its own. 
  • Medical Management: This entails taking drugs to assist you in passing the leftover tissue. 
  • Surgical Management: Any leftover tissue is surgically removed in this procedure.
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