A miscarriage is when a pregnancy is suddenly and unexpectedly ended before the 20th week of the pregnancy, which is also called a spontaneous abortion. There are many causes of miscarriages, and according to a study (Goldman, 2018), around 10% to 15% known pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Miscarriages are a painful experience that affects the woman that miscarried both physically and mentally. It is something that many people fear and would like to avoid as much as possible when pregnant. Around 80% of early miscarriages happen in the first trimester. The first trimester miscarriages are very common and quite difficult to deal with, another thing that makes it more difficult is that it is quite hard to figure out what went wrong or why it happened. In most cases the woman would feel guilty for the miscarriage, feeling as though it were her fault. But since most miscarriages happen so early on in the pregnancy, a lot of women do not even know they are pregnant by then or have just found out, and it would be hard to avoid a miscarriage if you don’t even know of your pregnancy. To add on to that, most miscarriages are not something that we can control, and simply occur because the fetus has stopped growing. Of course though there are some ways in which one could lower their chances of getting a miscarriage. In this article I will be listing down the different causes of first trimester miscarriages and some ways in which one can reduce the risks of having it.
Types of miscarriages
Firstly, let’s get to know the types of miscarriages; there are many different types of miscarriages, below I will be naming a few.
- Missed miscarriage: In this type you are unaware that you have even gotten a miscarriage, until you go to get an ultrasound will you find out that the fetus no longer has a heartbeat.
- Complete miscarriage: You have gotten a miscarriage and your uterus has completely emptied out for the fetal tissue has completely bled out.
- Recurrent miscarriage: This type affects only 1% of couples, it is when you have three or more miscarriages recurrently.
- Threatened miscarriage: For this type your cervix is closed but you are bleeding and experiencing cramps, typically the pregnancy would continue without further complications but your pregnancy care provider should monitor your pregnancy more closely to insure it goes smoothly.
- Inevitable miscarriage: Over here you are bleeding, experiencing cramps, and your cervix is opening up, it is quite likely that you will experience a full miscarriage.
Signs of a miscarriage
There are some signs to look out for if you think you might be having a miscarriage. One of the most common signs is pain or cramping in the abdomen, pelvic area, and lower back; bleeding is also common. Many women experience a light bleeding or some spots of blood whilst pregnant. That is not something to be concerned with, but if you are experiencing a heavy flow of bright red blood you should call your doctor immediately. Cramping is also something that is common and not something to be worried about when pregnant, but if the pain is severe you should go to your doctor for a check up.
The causes and risk factors
Though many miscarriages happen by chance, there are some things known to increase your chances of getting one.
- Age: 1 in 10 pregnancies end in a miscarriage for women under 30, 2 in 10 pregnancies end in a miscarriage for women between 35 to 39, and more than 5 in 10 pregnancies end in a miscarriage for women over 45 (NHS UK, 2022).
- If you are obese you are more at risk of getting a miscarriage.
- If you smoke.
- If you use drugs.
- If you drink alcohol whilst pregnant.
- If you intake lots of caffeine.
- If you have certain health conditions like unmanaged diabetes, infections or issues regarding your uterus or cervix could increase your chance.
- If you’ve had a previous miscarriage you are 25% more likely to have another one.(Cleveland Clinic Medical Professional, n.d.).
First trimester miscarriages are also known to be caused by many other things. Such as:
- Chromosomal abnormalities: They play a big role in miscarriages. In fact 50% of all first trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities. In normal circumstances everyone is supposed to have 46 chromosomes, 23 from each parent. If something goes wrong when the cells are dividing more might be made or some might be missed, this is a chromosomal abnormality (Gordon, 2022).
- Placenta: If there is a problem in the development of the placenta it could cause a miscarriage since it is what links the blood supply of the mother to the fetus.
- Health of the mother: Things such as hormonal imbalance, sickle cell disease, thyroid disease plus many more can cause a miscarriage.
- Clotting Anomalies: When your body produces more blood clots than usual in the placenta it could block the fetus from getting enough nourishment or oxygen. It can also prevent waste from being carried away.
- Exposure to harmful radiation: A pregnant woman being exposed to high levels of radiation can affect the fetus in many ways. Most of them don’t survive but the ones that do have a high risk of developing cancer in later life.
- Ectopic pregnancy: This is when the fetus develops outside of the uterus. This can cause a miscarriage because the uterus is the only place in the woman’s body that properly provides for fetal development.
How to prevent it from happening
Though most miscarriages are not something that can be avoided since they are mostly beyond our control, there are some ways in which one can reduce the risks of getting one.
- Eating a well balanced diet: Pregnancies have dietary requirements since you not only need to make sure your baby is getting enough nutrients to grow, but your body also needs energy to support the baby’s growth.
- Exercise: It is believed that exercise reduces the risk of miscarriages since it relieves stress and pain. It also reduces the risk of gestational diabetes.
- Avoid alcohol, drugs, smoking, and excessive caffeine: These things are not good for the fetus and can cause a miscarriage.
- Go to tdoctors regularly for a prenatal checkup: This can greatly help in reducing miscarriages, because if you go regularly it is likely the doctor would spot if something is wrong quite quickly so you can combat the problem as soon as possible before it becomes deadly for the fetus.
Misconceptions surrounding miscarriages
There are many misconceptions surrounding miscarriages, and I am here to debunk them.
- Exercising leads to miscarriages: This is a myth, exercising does not lead to a miscarriage in fact it can help prevent one.
- Working: Working during a pregnancy does not lead to a miscarriage as long as you avoid any places with harmful radiation.
- Sexual Intercourse: This does not lead to or increase the chances of getting a miscarriage, the saying that it does is a myth.
- Emotional states, such as stress and depression: These do not increase the risks of a miscarriage.
- Travelling by air.
- Eating spicy food.
Things to consider before getting pregnant again after a miscarriage
Many people often have questions on things to consider before you try for another baby after a miscarriage. I will be discussing a few.
First of all you don’t have to wait a specific amount of time to get pregnant again after a miscarriage. As soon as the mother feels physically and emotionally ready you can try for another baby. Another thing a lot of people worry about is that they may get another miscarriage after their first one, but only about 1 in a 100 women experience recurrent miscarriages (NHS UK, 2022). Even the women that do experience recurrent miscarriages later go on to have a successful pregnancy. So, having a miscarriage does not equal infertility.
A miscarriage is a very painful thing to experience, both emotionally and physically. No one would want to go through that, and it is understandably a big fear amongst many soon to be mothers. If you’ve had a miscarriage it is important to always remember that miscarriages are mostly beyond our control; they are random and unexpected, so it is no one’s fault. In order to heal from such a terrible event one must go easy on themselves, and take as much time as they need to recover. It is important to surround yourself with supportive people, and seek professional help to aid you with the loss. If you are concerned about getting a miscarriage it would be wise to talk to your doctor so they may provide additional testing and help in suggesting ways in which you may care for yourself in order to avoid it. A miscarriage does not mean you cannot have a baby as mentioned above in the article, so don’t lose hope, take the time you need to heal, and then you can try for another if you’d like because there is still a chance of having a successful pregnancy.
Binto (2023, January 1). First Trimester Miscarriage: Causes, Treatment, and Recovery. Retrieved 26 February 2023
Cleveland Clinic (n.d.). Miscarriage: Causes, Symptoms, Risks, Treatment & Prevention. Retrieved 26 February 2023
Edie & Army Company (2021, April 15). Causes Of A Miscarriage In The 1st Trimester. Retrieved 26 February 2023
Goldman, R. (2018, October 3). A Breakdown of Miscarriage Rates by Week. Healthline. Retrieved 26 February 2023
Gordon, S. (2022, December 13). Most Common Factors That Contribute to First Trimester Miscarriage. Verywell Family. Retrieved 26 February 2023
NHS, UK (2022, April 1). Causes. nhs.uk. Retrieved 26 February 2023
Scutti, S. (2014, November 11). First Trimester Miscarriage: How Common Is It And What’s The Cause? Medical Daily.