A miscarriage is the most common form of pregnancy loss. It usually occurs within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. More than 15% of pregnancies are lost annually to miscarriages before or within 12 weeks of pregnancy. Vaginal spotting, bleeding and severe abdominal cramps are common features of a miscarriage. Every vaginal spotting might not necessarily result in a miscarriage, as it is sometimes evident in very early pregnancies. If a spotting is however accompanied by an abdominal pain, severe cramps and then bleeding, consult a doctor immediately to check not just for a miscarriage but for much more severe problems.
All miscarriages are not characterized by an abdominal pain or bleeding. Sometimes, the fetus would have had a cessation of breathing or development, days or even weeks before an ultrasound is done. This is why frequent pre-natal checks are advised.
Miscarriages are either early or late. An early miscarriage occurs within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and sometimes the mother doesn’t even realize that there was a pregnancy until the miscarriage occurs. Most early miscarriages occur when there is a malfunction during the embryo development, especially chromosomal problems. Babies with the wrong number of chromosomes are likely to be miscarried in early pregnancy.
Late miscarriages are not as common as early miscarriages. They occur within the 12th to the 20th week of pregnancy which is often rare. Just like in early pregnancies, fertilization problems or chromosomal disorders are the causes of a late miscarriage. Other causes are; cervical weakness, Edwards syndrome and diabetes.
Causes of a miscarriage
- Women who are 35 years old and above
- Improper implantation of eggs in the uterus or defects, leading to a malformation in the development process. These defects are often as a result of damages encountered by the zygote during its division phase.
- Women who have had a previous miscarriage are at a risk of another miscarriage.
- Infections and maternal health problems.
- Abnormalities in fertilized eggs, which could be as a result of the wrong number of chromosomes in the eggs or sperm.
- Exposure to hazardous environments, toxic substances or industrial chemicals
- Excessive caffeine consumption
- Alcohol consumption, smoking and drug use
- A blighted ovum, usually as a result of the embryo’s inability to develop subsequently.
- Consumption of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin.
- Hormonal imbalance
- When the implantation of the egg into the uterine lining does not occur properly
- Trauma in pregnancy
- Congenital uterine or cervical
Symptoms of a miscarriage
- Bleeding, the most common sign of a miscarriage.
- Vaginal spotting
- Severe pain at the lower back, pelvis or abdomen. This is usually accompanied by bleeding.
- Abdominal cramps, often much stronger than typical menstrual cramps
- Loss or considerable decrease in baby movements.
- Disappearance of pregnancy symptoms such as nausea or breast tenderness
- Sudden Weight loss
- Smelly or fluidly vaginal discharge or discharge of blood clots or fetal tissue
- Frequent and actual contractions