It has been noted that as many as twenty percent pregnancies end in miscarriage. This usually happens during the first 14 weeks.
The highest risk is between six and eight weeks from the last menstrual period. Over half the babies who are miscarried during this period have a chromosomal abnormality. This happens during the complex process of chromosome exchange between the male sperm and female egg. At times this exchange does not happen correctly resulting in an abnormal embryo. The mother’s body recognises this anomaly and expels the unviable foetus.
Another cause of miscarriage is the baby not implanting itself correctly in the womb lining or an embryo formed with a structural defect – this is a chance occurrence and usually no cause for this can be determined.
Sometimes however the miscarriage may not happen immediately, leading to what is called a ‘missed’ miscarriage which may not be picked up until some weeks later, following slight bleeding or abdominal pains.
Risk factors for miscarriage include the age of the mother. Miscarriage risk rises as maternal age increases. For women under 35 the clinical miscarriage rate is at 6.4%, at 35-40 it is 14.7%, and over 40 it is 23.1%.
Signs of miscarriage:
The signs of miscarriage are bleeding, pelvic cramps and back pain, sudden abatements of pregnancy signs. Although the sudden appearance of these signs do not mean that a miscarriage is sure to happen, it is advisable to contact the physician to check the health of the mother and baby.
Conceiving after miscarriage:
After having a miscarriage, WHO guidelines suggest that there should be a gap of at least six months before trying to conceive again. Although some studies have come up saying that there is no need to delay pregnancy after a miscarriage, it is to be noted that the official WHO guideline in this regard has not changed.
Psychological impact of miscarriage:
The psychological impact of a miscarriage is as important as the physiological. The woman who has suffered a miscarriage goes through a period of mourning and grief. She may feel guilt, anger and anxiety. Sometimes she may go into depression and need to see a counsellor or a psychiatrist. Support from the family, husband and talking to a psychiatrist, if needed, is very important to help her to come to terms with her feeling, accept the fact and move forward.