One of the greatest pain a mother suffers from is to lose her baby due to a miscarriage. This term or spontaneous abortion (SAB) is used when a pregnancy ends on its own within the first 20 weeks of gestation. Many times, women are averse to the medical term spontaneous 'abortion'.
Therefore, in layman terms, this HerHaleness article will use the word miscarriage for loss of pregnancy or 'spontaneous abortion'. It can occur in many forms and due to varied reasons. One even develops different physical signs and it is very important to know what happens when a pregnancy suddenly ends.
- Miscarriage is loss of pregnancy before the unborn fetus is able to survive outside the mother's womb.
- Studies show 1 in 4 pregnancies are terminated due to it.
- There are about 70 to 80% pregnancies out of 100 that undergo a failure in the first 12 weeks of pregnancies.
- Majority of pregnancies end in this way without any known or obvious cause.
- Common symptoms include sudden vaginal bleeding and/or cramps experienced during menstruation. In many cases, women never experience any symptoms at all.
A pregnant woman can undergo different miscarriages that are categorized by different names. It is used as an umbrella term to explain different types of loss of pregnancies. These different types of spontaneous loss of pregnancies are discussed below:
This is a type that sends shivers down an expecting mother's spine. In this condition, a woman may suffer from vaginal bleeding along with some light spotting. It is said, 1 in 4 pregnant women suffer from this type of bleeding during their first trimester. In this type, the cervix remains tightly closed. The mother and the fetus need to be closely monitored and in majority of the cases, the pregnancy continues without any major issues. An ultrasound is an important diagnostic tool to monitor it.
Many pregnant women experience this type without any symptoms. They are unaware of the fact that they have just undergone an abortion and suffered from embryonic death. The embryo is not expelled from the womb for unknown reasons and thus the mother does not experience any symptoms. Fetal death is only determined when the doctor checks for fetal heart tones during an ultrasound examination.
Incomplete or Inevitable Miscarriage
This occurs when the body starts the process of spontaneous abortion, but fails to expel all the tissues of failed pregnancy from the womb. The cervix dilates indicating it is a sure sign of expelling the fetus from the uterus. The mother experiences abdominal or back pain along with bleeding and cramps. This type of failed pregnancy is inevitable as there is no way from stopping the loss from occurring.
When all the products of conception, that is, the embryo have been expelled from the womb, it is termed as a complete failure. The bleeding will stop quickly and one can confirm it with the help of an ultrasound.
There are about 1% couples who suffer from this form. It occurs when there is loss of three or more consecutive first trimester miscarriages.
When a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterine wall, it will undergo fetal development. However, in case of a blighted ovum, also called an embryonic pregnancy, this never occurs. One may see the presence of a gestational sac with or without the presence of a yolk sac. However, there is total absence of any kind of fetal growth.
When a fertilized egg implants itself inside the fallopian tube instead of the uterus, it is termed as an ectopic or tubal pregnancy. These pregnancies require immediate termination as the developing egg will lead to rupture of the fallopian tube. If left untreated, it could lead to serious complications including maternal death.
During fertilization, an error in the genetic coding can lead to growth of an abnormal tissue. These pregnancies rarely involve the embryo, but cause in development of cells that make up the placenta. However, there is no fetus just presence of an incomplete mole. It is actually a form of tumor that will not survive. This is a very rare kind of pregnancy, thus, not seen in majority of the cases.
In many cases, miscarriages occur due to a chromosomal abnormality. Thus, there is not much one can do to prevent them. However, when one conceives they should take some steps to prevent a failure in pregnancy. These steps include reducing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, taking folic acid supplements and going for regular check ups. An ultrasound is the best diagnostic tool to monitor the health and growth of the developing fetus. For further questions, consult your Ob-Gyn for more details.