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After Your Miscarriage

What is a miscarriage?

When you lose your pregnancy during the first 20 weeks, it is 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.

When you have been pregnant for 20 weeks or longer and your baby dies before or during birth, it is called a stillbirth.

What happens during a miscarriage?

A miscarriage can happen suddenly or over several hours, days, or even weeks. Your healthcare provider might use an ultrasound test 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

You may also have no obvious or apparent symptoms of miscarriage, but it may be diagnosed during an ultrasound.

What causes a miscarriage?

The most common cause of a miscarriage is when the baby stops growing and developing.

You may wonder why this happened, or blame yourself for something you did. It’s important to know that a miscarriage isn’t anyone’s fault. It is not 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 miscarriage include:

  • age of birthing parent
  • genetic problems, such as abnormal chromosomes
  • problems with the uterus or cervix
  • infection or issues with the immune system
  • hormone problems

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. The placenta 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 dilation and curettage (D&C).
  • An ectopic pregnancy (also called a tubal pregnancy) happens when an egg implants in the wrong place, such as in a fallopian tube instead of in the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy can be a medical emergency and may need immediate treatment.

Recurrent pregnancy loss

Some people have 2 or more pregnancy losses. This happens to about 1 in 100 women (1%). About half of the time, the cause of the pregnancy loss is unknown. Known causes may include:

  • genetic concerns
  • problems with the uterus
  • immune system problems
  • infections
  • environmental concerns

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. On, 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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