Miscarriages: Understanding the Loss

A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy within the first 20 weeks. It can be a difficult and emotional topic to discuss during pregnancy. Unfortunately, it is more common that you may think. In fact, as many as 20% of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage.

Causes of Miscarriages

There are several biological, hormonal, and environmental factors that can cause a miscarriage within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy: 
  • Chromosomal abnormalities. Between 50% and 70% of first trimester miscarriages are believed to be the result of abnormalities that prevented the healthy development of the fetus.
  • Severe trauma. A traumatic injury to the mother, such as an injury caused by a car accident, can result in a miscarriage.
  • Hormonal or structural abnormalities. Abnormalities of the mother’s hormone levels (such as low progesterone) or physical structure (like uterine fibroids) can cause a miscarriage.
  • Chronic illnesses. Certain chronic illnesses, such as lupus, thyroid disease, or diabetes (if not controlled properly), can lead to a miscarriage. Women with these diseases can carry a baby to term, but they must be carefully monitored.
Aside from direct causes of miscarriages, there are many factors that can increase the chances of a woman having a miscarriage: 
  • Advanced age
  • Family history of birth defects or genetic anomalies
  • Infections
  • Certain medications
  • Environmental toxins
  • Smoking, drinking and drug use

Recognizing a Miscarriage

When a miscarriage occurs, it’s important for a woman to be aware of what’s happening. Not all miscarriages are obvious—especially if they happen early in the pregnancy. However, in some cases, a miscarriage can be dangerous to the mother; if a woman believes she suffered a miscarriage, she needs to inform her doctor.
The two most common signs of a miscarriage are vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain. Vaginal bleeding is usually the first sign of a miscarriage. However, one in four women experience some bleeding during pregnancy, so this alone may not indicate a miscarriage. Abdominal pain usually begins soon after the bleeding occurs. The pain may feel like cramps, lower back pain, or pressure in the pelvic region.
A miscarriage isn’t the woman’s fault, and it can happen for a variety of reasons—many of which are undetectable or completely beyond the mother’s control. Having a miscarriage doesn’t mean a woman can’t carry a child again. Contact Women’s Medical Associates of Nashville for more information. Patient education is a priority for us, and we can help you understand your and your baby’s health needs throughout the pregnancy.