Yes! Miscarriage is a very devastating period for a mother, her partner, and her family. As per society norms, miscarriage has to be confined only to the mother, or between her and her partner, and then mourn privately.
Miscarriages can be very common, but the grief and physical trauma that it can cause will stay forever. Many supportive policies should be implemented by the government to help those affected by miscarriage. For the better care of your loved ones, it is very essential to understand and destigmatize miscarriage, and also respect their grieving pain.
What is a Miscarriage?
Miscarriage (early pregnancy loss) is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Many miscarriages occur before the mother realizes that she is actually pregnant. According to certain studies, for every 100 women who are pregnant, 10-15 of the pregnancies end in miscarriage. There are many reasons for miscarriage, but problems with chromosomes in genes are the highest reason.
Most miscarriages happen before the 12th week of pregnancy or in the first trimester. About 1 to 5 in 100 pregnancies, miscarriage happens in the second trimester.
What are Repeat Miscarriages?
Repeat miscarriage or recurrent pregnancy loss is when you have two or more miscarriages in a row. About 1 in 100 women experience repeated miscarriages. Most women who have repeated miscarriages have no known cause, but later go on to have a successful pregnancy.
What Can Cause Miscarriage and Repeat Miscarriage?
Problems with chromosomes
When an embryo gets the wrong number of chromosomes, a miscarriage can happen. This happens by chance and not due to a problem that is passed from a parent to a child through genes. Some examples of chromosome problems that can cause miscarriage include:
- Translocation – When a part of a chromosome moves to another chromosome and causes a small number of repeat miscarriages, this phase is referred to as translocation.
- Molar pregnancy – This happens when the tissue in the uterus converts into a tumour at the beginning of pregnancy.
- Blighted ovum – When an embryo implants into the uterus but does not develop into a baby, then this refers to the blighted ovum. You may see dark-brown bleeding from the vagina, during the early stages of pregnancy due to blighted ovum.
- Intrauterine fetal demise – The fetal demise takes place when an embryo stops developing and finally dies.
Miscarriages Due to Problems With the Uterus or Cervix
- Septate uterus – This happens when a band of tissue or muscle called the septum, divides the uterus into two sections. Sometimes, your healthcare provider may suggest surgery before you try to get pregnant to repair the uterus and reduce the risk of miscarriage. This is the most common kind of congenital uterine abnormality.
- Cervical insufficiency – This happens when your cervix opens too early during your pregnancy, without any pain or contractions. Cervical insufficiency leads to miscarriage during the second trimester and to help prevent this, your healthcare provider recommends cerclage (a stitch that puts in your cervix to keep it closed).
- Asherman syndrome – This condition occurs when you have scars or scar tissue in the uterus which can damage the endometrium – the lining of the uterus. Before you are pregnant, your healthcare provider may use hysteroscopy to find and remove scar tissue if any present. Asherman syndrome can cause repeat miscarriages that can happen before you know that you are pregnant.
Infections like listeriosis, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as genital herpes and syphilis, can cause miscarriage. Early testing and treatment can protect you and your baby from such infections. Having certain infections can cause miscarriages, but remember that they are not likely to cause repeat miscarriages.
Signs & Symptoms of Miscarriage
- Bleeding or spotting from the vagina
- Period like cramps
- Severe belly or stomach pain
If you are experiencing any of these signs & symptoms, then call your healthcare provider immediately. Some tests can be conducted to make sure that you are okay, like blood tests, pelvic exams and an ultrasound.
Treatment You Get After Miscarriage or Repeat Miscarriage
- Dilation and curettage (D&C) – The procedure D&C removes the remaining tissue from the uterus. Your healthcare provider widens your cervix, removes the tissue with a suction called a curette.
- Medicines – Your healthcare provider may recommend certain medications that can help your body to pass the tissue that is still remaining in the uterus.
Your Role Alongside Your Loved One Facing a Miscarriage
It can be difficult for your loved one to go through such a situation. There can be no perfect thing to say or to help make things better. But on the other hand, it does not mean that your support is not valued or needed. Here are five ways you can help your loved one to heal better during such a devastating situation:
- Listen – Do not get into a point of conclusion, saying that you know what your loved ones may need during this time. Everyone deals with grief differently, hence, the most important thing is that you listen to their pain. You can take your cues from them. You can ask them to talk and weep over their loss or ask for any distraction or ask them if they need any vent. Ensure that you are empathetic towards their situation and be attentive when they are trying to express their grief.
- Openly discuss the miscarriage – Let them know that you are always available to discuss the loss. Miscarriage can be painful on many levels. The dream and excitement of having a baby, the growing love as the fetus developed are suddenly disrupted and broken. Let your loved ones decide on how and when to discuss their loss and ensure that you are always available when they need you.
- Choose your words carefully – Parents will never forget about their pregnancy loss and can be hurt by the words you speak, no matter however long it has been. If you want to say something, then ensure that you are sticking with statements that can acknowledge their pain and not on the statements that are trying to fix the problem.
- Offer to help them out whenever needed – Grief can drain positive energy from people. Hence, it can be nice to offer help with whatever your loved ones may need such as making a meal, picking up the other kids from school, or covering a shift for your loved ones at work.
Show content towards their feelings and experiences – Last but not least, a great way to show support to your loved one who has had a miscarriage is by validating their experience and the way they are feeling about it. Let them also know what they are feeling is valid and there is no specific timeline to say “move on”, in their lives.