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What is a miscarriage?
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy. The medical term for this is “spontaneous abortion” and is used when the loss happens before the 20th week of pregnancy.

Pregnancy loss is not uncommon, as 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. The actual rate of miscarriage is likely higher than this since some miscarriages occur so early on in the pregnancy that women don’t even realize they’re pregnant. Miscarriages also usually happen in the early stages of pregnancy — 80% of pregnancy loss happens within the first trimester.

What does a miscarriage look like?
The most common sign of miscarriage is vaginal bleeding, which can either start as light spotting or heavier bleeding. Light bleeding can stretch over a length of 1 to 2 weeks while the duration of heavy bleeding is shorter, ranging between 3 to 5 hours from its first onset. The color of blood from a miscarriage can range from pink to brown, with red blood indicating fresh blood and brown blood indicating that it’s been sitting in the uterus for some time.

Other signs and symptoms of a miscarriage to watch out for include belly pain or cramps, mild to severe back pain, weight loss, and contractions. There can also be discharge in the form of white-pink mucus or tissue resembling blood clots that come out of the vagina.

It should be noted that while light vaginal bleeding or spotting is relatively common during the first trimester of pregnancy, it’s still a good idea to contact your doctor if you notice any sort of bleeding or other abnormal symptoms to make sure these are not signs of a larger problem.

What are the causes of a miscarriage?
Research tells us that the cause of about 50% of all early pregnancy losses is due to chromosomal abnormalities such as extra or missing chromosomes in the embryo or fetus.

A mother’s health condition may also lead to miscarriage if she has hormonal problems such as low levels of progesterone, problems with the uterus or cervix, thyroid disease, or uncontrolled diabetes.

Other causes of miscarriage include infection, an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own tissue, injury or trauma, and exposure to high levels of radiation or toxic substances.

There is a lot of misinformation on the causes of infertility and miscarriage. Despite what you might hear, the following activities under normal conditions do not cause miscarriage:

– Exercise: Many women are wary or even reluctant to exercise during pregnancy for fear of putting their baby at risk of harm, but this concern is mostly misguided. Instead, the medical community agrees that moderate physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, contributes significantly to both the mother’s and baby’s wellbeing during pregnancy. Many experts advocate exercise during pregnancy to reduce stress, aches and pains, as well as for building up stamina for labor.

– Sexual intercourse: In most cases, sexual intercourse during pregnancy is considered safe and unlikely to trigger a miscarriage. However, you might want to discuss this more carefully with your doctor if you see any unexplained vaginal bleeding or discharge, have an incompetent or dilated cervix or have experienced a prior preterm birth.

– Stress: There is no evidence that stress causes miscarriage. Normal levels of stress and anxiety during pregnancy generally do not increase your chances of having a miscarriage. However, excessive stress can be damaging to your overall health. If women under extreme stress choose to smoke, drink, consume excess caffeine, or engage in compulsive drug use, then those lifestyle choices can significantly increase the risk of miscarriage.

How to prevent a miscarriage?
While most miscarriages cannot be prevented, there are many things you can do to reduce the chances of pregnancy loss. Some behavioral modifications that are actually within your control are things like choosing to stay away from alcohol, smoking, illicit drug use, and excessive caffeine intake. Specifically, research shows that miscarriage is more common in women who drink more than 3 alcoholic drinks per week in the first trimester. Also, a daily intake of 500 mg of caffeine during pregnancy is considered enough to increase miscarriage risk.

Other tips on how to prevent a miscarriage include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding people who have an infectious illness, and if you have certain conditions such as high blood pressure, thyroid disease, or diabetes, to keep them under control.

Bear in mind that the most common risk factors of miscarriage are advanced maternal age and prior early pregnancy loss. The risk of miscarriage with women at age 35, 40, and 45 is 20%, 40%, and 80%, respectively. Also, a woman’s risk of miscarriage is higher if she has had two or more consecutive miscarriages.

Can you get pregnant again after a miscarriage?
Yes, it is definitely possible to get pregnant again with a healthy baby after a miscarriage!

The fear of miscarrying again is real. However, you should know that over 85% of women who have suffered one pregnancy loss can still go on to have a successful pregnancy. And not to worry if you’ve had more than one miscarriage, as 75% of women who have suffered either two or three pregnancy losses can go on to have a perfectly healthy pregnancy.

How long to wait after a miscarriage until trying to conceive again?
There’s no set formula to predict the best time for trying to conceive after a miscarriage. Many experts recommend waiting at least a few months for the woman’s body to recover to a point where the uterus and endometrial lining become strong enough to support a successful pregnancy. Generally it is considered medically safe after a miscarriage to try to conceive again after one to three menstrual cycles.

For couples who may need more time to come to terms with their loss, some healthcare providers advocate waiting 6 months to a year before trying to conceive after a miscarriage.

If couples want to have sexual intercourse after a miscarriage, some experts advise against vaginal intercourse for 1-2 weeks after complete passage of pregnancy tissue in order to reduce risk of infection.

How to improve the chances of a successful pregnancy after a miscarriage?
If you want to improve the chances of a successful pregnancy after a miscarriage, the importance of taking care of yourself and maintaining good health cannot be overemphasized.

Avoid alcohol, smoking, excess caffeine, and drugs. Keep a healthy weight and if applicable, monitor any health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid abnormalities. Regular exercise both before and during pregnancy is also very beneficial as it not only prepares you for labor by boosting your stamina, but also decreases risk of gestational diabetes and cesarean delivery when you are pregnant.

After a miscarriage, it’s perfectly natural that you may want to wait until you’re ready to try again. Just know when that time comes, Eveline will be here to support you and reduce any stress that comes with trying to find the best time to conceive. Click here to learn more about how our Eveline digital ovulation predictor kit can help you find the perfect time to conceive for a successful pregnancy.

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This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to offer medical advice.

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Photo by Anastasiya Lobanovskaya from Pexels