A miscarriage is the loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. The medical term for a miscarriage is spontaneous abortion, but “spontaneous” is the key word here because the condition is not an abortion in the common definition of the term.
According to the March of Dimes, as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage — most often before a woman misses a menstrual period or even knows she is pregnant. About 15-25% of recognized pregnancies will end in a miscarriage.
More than 80% of miscarriages occur within the first three months of pregnancy. Miscarriages are less likely to occur after 20 weeks gestation; these are termed late miscarriages.
Symptoms of a Miscarriage
Symptoms of a miscarriage include:
- Bleeding which progresses from light to heavy
- Severe cramps
- Abdominal pain
- Worsening or severe back pain
- Fever with any of the symptoms listed above
If you experience the symptoms listed above, contact your doctor right away
Causes of Miscarriage
Most miscarriages happen when the unborn baby has fatal genetic problems. Usually, these problems are unrelated to the mother.
Other causes of miscarriage include:
- Medical conditions in the mother, such as diabetes or thyroid disease
- Hormone problems
- Immune system responses
- Physical problems in the mother
- Uterine abnormalities
A woman has a higher risk of miscarriage if she:
- Is over age 35
- Has certain diseases, such as diabetes or thyroid problems
- Has had three or more miscarriages
Prevention of Miscarriage
Not all miscarriages can be prevented. However, you can take steps to help maintain a healthy pregnancy. Here are a few recommendations:
- Get regular prenatal care throughout your pregnancy.
- Avoid alcohol, drugs, and smoking while pregnant.
- Maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy.
- Avoid infections. Wash your hands thoroughly, and stay away from people who are already sick.
- Limit the amount of caffeine to no more than 200 milligrams per day.
- Take prenatal vitamins to help ensure that you and your developing fetus get enough nutrients.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
Remember that having a miscarriage doesn’t mean you won’t conceive again in the future.
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