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Miscarriages: Can They Be Prevented?

Miscarriages: Can They Be Prevented?

Saying the word miscarriage can feel somewhat awkward. You are unsure if it’s something you can openly talk about or a topic you should avoid entirely because it’s so personal. 

However, when you learn that about 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in a miscarriage, you realize it happens more often than you think.

Many women feel the need to hide what they’ve gone through and suppress their feelings because society makes it seem like miscarriages are uncommon and shameful. So, let’s break through the stigma once and for all. 

What is a Miscarriage?

According to Mayo Clinic, a miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week.

The word is slightly misleading because it would suggest that you didn’t carry something to full term. However, most miscarriages occur because the fetus is not developing correctly. 

While knowing this does not make it any easier to go through, it is important to highlight that miscarriages rarely happen because of something the mom did or didn’t do.

If you go through a miscarriage, the most important thing you can do is be kind to yourself. 

Two Types of Miscarriages

Miscarriages can often be categorized as early or late. 

An early miscarriage is defined as the loss of a pregnancy before 13 completed weeks. Genetic or chromosomal abnormalities often cause early miscarriages. For example, if there are too many or too few chromosomes when the egg and sperm fuse, the embryo will not survive. 

A late miscarriage happens after the first 13 weeks of pregnancy but before 24 weeks. Late miscarriages are typically caused by a fetal abnormality or a problem with the baby’s development. Other causes include cervical insufficiency, congenital disabilities, placental problems, infections, and trauma. 

If a baby dies at or after 24 weeks of pregnancy, it is no longer considered a miscarriage but a stillbirth.

What are the causes of miscarriages? 

Problems With Chromosomes 

About 50 percent of miscarriages are associated with extra or missing chromosomes. Chromosomal problems often lead to:

  • Blighted ovum: a sac and placenta grow, but the embryo does not form.

  • Intrauterine fetal demise: The embryo forms and may even attach to the uterine lining. However, it stops developing entirely. 

  • Molar pregnancy and partial molar pregnancy: the embryo and a placenta do not develop the way they should after conception.

Maternal Health Conditions

A mother’s health condition may lead to a miscarriage in a few rare cases. These often include:

  • Infections

  • Hormonal Problems

  • Weakened Cervix or Womb Structure

  • Medications

  • Uncontrolled Diabetes 

Misconceptions About Miscarriages

There are many unexplained causes of miscarriages. Here are some things that DO NOT cause miscarriages: 

  • An exercise routine throughout pregnancy

  • Regular intercourse

  • The emotional state of the mother

  • Eating spicy food

Can miscarriages be prevented?

Unfortunately, you cannot prevent most miscarriages. The factors that cause miscarriages are often unavoidable, so there is not much that women can do to avoid them. 

All you can do is lead a healthy lifestyle before, during, and after conception. 

Here are some health tips to help you on your fertility journey. 

  • Take folic acids as part of your preconception care. 

  • Avoid unhealthy risk factors such as smoking and drinking. 

  • Maintain a healthy weight. 

  • Take precautions against infections. 

  • Practice safe sex

Takeaway

Miscarriages are common. About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Still, this number is probably higher because many miscarriages occur very early in pregnancy, so most of them do not get detected. 

The best thing you can do is lead a healthy lifestyle and not lose hope if you’ve gone through a miscarriage yourself. It does not mean you will have a second miscarriage or have trouble conceiving again. 

You are doing the best you can, so be kind to yourself. 

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