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Miscarriage, though very common, can be devastating. Besides grieving for your lost pregnancy and the child you were hoping for, you may have serious concerns about your fertility. Why does miscarriage happen, and how do you cope with pregnancy loss?

Miscarriage symptoms

Some women reading this blog may be asking themselves if they are experiencing miscarriage symptoms right now, so we'll deal with that first. Miscarriage symptoms can be very obvious, or they can be so subtle that you will find out about your pregnancy loss at your ultrasound. There are roughly three possible indications of a miscarriage, and they are:

  1. Vaginal bleeding and cramping (which may follow a pattern, much like labor contractions but lighter). This is the most obvious indication of a miscarriage. Light spotting, in which a pregnant women loses only a few drops of blood, does not often signify a miscarriage.
  2. A sudden lack of the pregnancy symptoms you suffered from. If your morning sickness, tender breasts, or fatigue are gone this could mean that you will have a miscarriage. That is certainly not always the case, though.
  3. No heartbeat found during an ultrasound is another way to indicate miscarriage. If your ultrasound was carried out very early, there is a chance that it was simply too soon to see a heartbeat. Beyond eight weeks or so, a trans-abdominal ultrasound can usually detect a heartbeat. If not heartbeat is found, you can always ask the doctor to carry out another ultrasound in a few days to a week, especially if you are not sure when you conceived.

Why do miscarriages happen?

Up to one in five pregnancies that were confirmed with a doctor end in miscarriage. Some medical professionals speculate that half of all pregnancies are lost including miscarriage that happen too early for the woman to know that she is pregnant. The majority of miscarriages happen within the first eight weeks of pregnancy. Usually, the reason is that the fetus could never be compatible with life. Chromosomal abnormalities and physical malformations are the most frequent reasons a miscarriage happens. In some cases, external factors like lifestyle, an accident, or medications can be responsible. In rare instances, a pregnant woman's antibodies can start attacking the fetus. Problems with the uterine lining or even the shape of the uterus can also result in miscarriage, and then there is the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy which can not be carried to term and requires medical intervention to remove the pregnancy. Most women who had a miscarriage or even several will never find out which of these things caused their pregnancy loss or losses. Sometimes, fetal tissues can be researched to give information about what went wrong. Usually, women who had a miscarriage will go on to conceive again and have a healthy pregnancy.

The grieving process

The grieving process is different for everyone, but most women who have a miscarriage are extremely affected by their loss, at least for a while. Many moms start imagining a new life with a baby as soon as they get a positive pregnancy test, and even make practical preparations. Besides grieving for the baby you already started loving, you may also be really worried about the future. Will you be able to get pregnant again? Will you have another miscarriage? Why you? When you are emotionally dealing with a miscarriage, you'll go through the stages of grief just like you would with any other major loss. The stages of grief are

  • Denial and/or shock. This stage can last a few days, a few weeks, or even beyond. Both denial and shock are coping mechanisms.
  • Pain and sadness make up the next stage, after you are over your shock. This is one of the hardest stages of grief.
  • Anger comes after.
  • A deep feeling of loss, emptiness, or depression. After while, almost everyone you know (including sometimes your partner) thinks you should be returning to normal and forgetting about your miscarriage. At this point, you may start feeling empty or depressed, and the magnitude of your loss sinks in. You may feel worse than when you were angry.
  • Feeling better, and finally coming to accept what happened, is the final stage of grief. Life may not be the same as it was before, but you can enjoy it again and look forward to the future.

Allowing yourself to be sad and to mourn is crucial for your recovery. Some women can talk to their partner, while therapy, keeping a journal, or talking to friend are other options. Some women even join support groups for women with miscarriages. Your doctor will be able to recommend one if there are any in your area.

Trying to conceive after a miscarriage

Not all couples who recently experienced a miscarriage feel comfortable with trying to conceive again. If you do, research shows that getting pregnant again within the first six months after suffering a miscarriage is very safe. Statistically, you are even more likely than other couples to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Many healthcare professionals will advise you to wait one cycle before trying again. This means that you will have to have one period after the bleeding of your miscarriage stops, and then you can try again. Waiting serves as a precaution all the fetal tissue will be gone, and if you do get pregnant on your first cycle of trying, the gestational age of the baby would be easier to calculate.

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