A miscarriage is when you lose your baby early in the pregnancy. It usually happens within the first trimester, but it can sometimes happen up to 20 weeks of gestation.
Miscarriages are common: they happen in about 1 in 5 pregnancies. They are more common in women as they get older.
As soon as you see a heartbeat with an ultrasound, especially if the heart rate is over 100 beats per minute, the chance of having a miscarriage goes down significantly. Miscarriages are usually caused by a chromosomal problem with the fetus.
Many health care providers will look at a Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) blood test in the early stages of pregnancy to see if your pregnancy is going well. HCG is a hormone produced by your placenta. The level is about 100 at the time you miss your first period and will usually double every other day over the next two weeks in a normal pregnancy.
The cause of a miscarriage is mostly due to a chromosomal problem with the fetus. Often there is an additional chromosome coming from the mother that causes the miscarriage. There are tests available to determine if the miscarriage was due to a chromosomal abnormality. This information can be critical in helping you and your healthcare provider make certain decisions regarding future pregnancies in an effort to reduce the chance of miscarriage. A miscarriage can also be due to infections, hormonal imbalances, or immunological issues.
A miscarriage will often pass vaginally on its own. Some health care providers may offer you some medications to help your body pass it. Sometimes a dilation & curettage (D & C ) will be offered. In this procedure, a small tube will be introduced into the uterus via the vagina and cervix, and a gentle suction will be used to remove the tissues of the miscarrying pregnancy.
If your blood type is RH negative, your health care provider might offer you a shot called Rhogam®. This is given in order to prevent your body from attacking your baby’s blood cells in future pregnancies.
It is important to realize that the great majority of women who have a miscarriage will be able to have a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy in the future.