It’s a heart-breaking statistic that up to 20 per cent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. With as many as one in four women (and men) suffering this loss, it’s an all-too familiar story.
Why then, does miscarriage remain a taboo topic?
To bring this subject to the fore, in this feature we outline what to expect during a miscarriage, including some helpful resources.
What is a Miscarriage?
According to the NHS, a miscarriage is the loss of pregnancy within the first 23 weeks, although it typically occurs in the first trimester.
There may be a number of reasons why a person suffers miscarriage, often this is due to; chromosomal problems, health conditions and pregnancy history. Age is also an indicator, with women 45+ having a 70 per cent chance of miscarriage.
Tommy’s charity understand that approximately one in 100 women in the UK experience recurrent miscarriages; that is more than three in a row. However, 60 per cent of women who experience recurrent miscarriage will go on to have a successful pregnancy.
Symptoms of Miscarriage
Knowing what to expect during a miscarriage is a delicate subject, since some symptoms are also the result of being pregnant.
However, vaginal bleeding tends to be the main symptom. This is often accompanied by cramping and lower abdominal pain.
Even though bleeding is common in the first trimester, it should always be checked out by a GP. You will usually be referred to an early pregnancy unit or hospital. An ultrasound scan will determine if you are having a miscarriage.
What Happens Next?
If a miscarriage is confirmed, your healthcare provider will offer you support going forward. Not many women know what to expect during a miscarriage, however your midwife or consultant will be well equipped to help you through the process.
This starts with a consultation about managing the end of the pregnancy. Quite often, the tissue will pass naturally within one or two weeks. In some cases, you may need medicine to assist with the process. Surgery is available for those who would rather not wait.
Everyone deals with loss in different ways. For some it may be beneficial to hold a memorial in honour of your lost baby, or to mark the event in a memorable way to help you process your feelings.
There are many support groups and counselling services available to women and men to help deal with the emotional and physical feelings of a miscarriage. Your local hospital and midwife should be able to provide you with your nearest.
Tommy’s charity is a great resource, which undertakes vital research, and offers support to those who experience; stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage.
Their website is tommys.org, and they can be reached on 0207398 3400. Their emergency guidelines are also available here >>>.
In most cases a miscarriage cannot be prevented.
That said, there are steps that can be taken to minimise the risk. This includes avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol and not using drugs during pregnancy.
It can also help to be a ‘healthy’ weight prior to conception and maintaining a healthy well-balanced diet throughout.
We hope this has been a helpful guide in helping to understand what to expect during a miscarriage. If you have any further questions or need support, Tommy’s and the Miscarriage Association are a great resource.