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After Your Miscarriage

What is a miscarriage?

When you lose your pregnancy during the first 20 weeks it’s called a miscarriage. About 1 in 5 (20%) of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage. It’s common for a miscarriage to happen before you even know you’re pregnant, especially in the first 12 weeks.

What happens during a miscarriage?

A miscarriage can happen suddenly or over several hours. Sometimes it can take a few days, or even weeks. An ultrasound test may be used to find out if a miscarriage has happened or is in progress. The most common signs of a miscarriage are:

  • vaginal bleeding—can go from light to heavy bleeding
  • very bad cramps in the pelvic area, back, or abdomen
  • lower back ache
  • fever (temperature over 38.5 °C)
  • passing tissue from the vagina
  • no obvious or apparent symptoms of miscarriage but diagnosed on ultrasound

What causes a miscarriage?

A miscarriage happens when your baby stops growing and developing, or when your womb (uterus) can’t hold the baby. You may wonder why it happened or blame yourself for something you did. It’s important to know that a miscarriage isn’t anyone’s fault. It isn’t caused by stress, exercise, or sex. It usually can’t be prevented. Most of the time the cause of a miscarriage isn’t known.

Some factors that may be linked to a miscarriage include:

  • genetic problems such as abnormal chromosomes
  • problems with the uterus or cervix
  • infection, which can affect the uterus and the baby
  • hormone problems
  • age of parents

Other terms used for early pregnancy loss

  • A blighted ovum is an egg that is fertilized but doesn’t develop. This is a common problem and may cause up to half (50%) of miscarriages in the first 12 weeks.
  • A molar pregnancy happens when there’s a problem with the placenta. It grows into a large mass that may or may not contain a baby. If there’s a baby, the growth stops. Most often, a molar pregnancy is treated with a dilatation and curettage (D&C).
  • An ectopic pregnancy (also called a tubal pregnancy) happens when an egg implants in the wrong place like in 1 of your fallopian tubes instead of in the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy can be a medical emergency for the mother and may need immediate treatment.

Is a miscarriage a baby or pregnancy tissue?

It’s up to you to decide how you want to talk about your pregnancy or baby. In this content the words baby and tissue are both used to describe the physical remains from a miscarriage. This is done to help respect your choices, feelings, and values.

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