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Miscarriages and Chemical Pregnancies

This is a very tough subject to discuss, but the truth is that miscarriages and chemical pregnancies happen.  As if trying to conceive wasn’t stressful enough, the thought of a pregnancy loss is very frightening.  While I am not aware of having a chemical pregnancy, I have experienced three miscarriages.  So I understand the pain and the emotional conflicts that come along with it.  It can be hard to believe you did nothing wrong to cause a miscarriage as you question everything you did everyday you were pregnant.  Just know you are not alone as many women face these common struggles.

What Is A Miscarriage

A miscarriage is the loss of a fetus before 20 weeks.  If you ever have one or it is diagnosed, you may see the term “spontaneous abortion.”  I really hate that phrase, but unfortunately it is the medical term for miscarriage.  Considering I have had three miscarriages, I have seen it on my discharge instructions or care plan three too many times.  Miscarriages happen in 10 to 15 percent of confirmed pregnancies and 75 percent of those occur in the first trimester.  This is why many people wait until after 13 weeks before they make their pregnancy announcement as the risk for miscarriage decreases in the second trimester.

Causes and Symptoms

While most miscarriages occur due to chromosomal abnormalities, studies show there are certain things you can do to lower your risk of miscarriage.  Lifestyle changes such as: smoking, drinking, and doing drugs will lower your risk for miscarriage.  However, there is really nothing you can do to prevent a miscarriage so it is important to try to take it easy on yourself.  The cause of chromosomal abnormalities is usually due to a problem in cell devision once the egg and sperm meet (meiosis).

After the age of 35 the risk of miscarriage increases to 20 to 35 percent and gets even higher after the age of 45.  The percentages seem to vary depending on who you ask (doctors, scientists, different pregnancy associations). Percentages for miscarriage risks aside, the truth is that as we get older so do our eggs and that increases the risk for abnormalities. So it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including good eating happens, when planning to get pregnant.

Some spotting is common in pregnancy, but bleeding during pregnancy is can be a “threatened miscarriage.”  Symptoms of miscarriage can be:  heavy bleeding, passing clots or tissue, and cramping.  Cramping by itself is common in early pregnancy as the uterus is stretching.  However, it is accompanied by heavy bleeding you need to contact your doctor right away.  In some cases, there are no symptoms and you only find out you had a loss once you get an ultrasound. This is known as a “missed miscarriage.”

A missed miscarriage is sometimes called a silent miscarriage and in most cases the body still acts as if it is pregnant by releasing hormones.  If your body does not pass the fetal tissue on its own,  you may have to get a procedure such as a D&C (dilation and curattage)to remove the fetal tissue to prevent infection.  Unfortunately for me, I have had to have a D&C regardless if it was a missed miscarriage or a miscarriage. A D&C would also be needed in an incomeplete miscarriage.

An incomplete miscarriage is when you have heavy bleeding and cramping with an open cervix.  Your doctor will be able to diagnose this.  In an incomplete miscarriage you don’t pass all the prodcuts of pregnancy which is why a D&C is needed as cramping and bleeding is likely to continue without one.

Chemical Pregnancy

A chemical pregnancy is a pregnancy loss that occurs right after implantation.  If you have been actively trying to conceive and testing early, you would get a positive pregnancy test but shortly after start your period.  Chemical pregnancies account for up to 75 percent of miscarriages.  They differ from miscarriages because they happen right after implantation and before you really start experiencing pregnancy symptoms.  Most women don’t even know that they have experienced a chemical pregnancy because it happens so close to your expected cycle.

Causes of Chemical Pregnancy

Doctors don’t really know the causes of a chemical pregnancy, but the theory is that they may be due to low egg or sperm quality.  So it is important to not beat yourself up if you experience one as it is out of your control.

What You Can Do

Having a miscarriage or chemical pregnancy can be so heartbreaking.  It is a loss.  Regardless of a planned or unplanned pregnancy, it can be devastating even earth shattering.  So if you need help, do not be ashamed to talk to someone about it.  If this is not the first time you have experienced a chemical pregnancy or miscarriage, you should definitely speak to your doctor to get proper treatment for your next pregnancy.  Whether it be taking supplements or medicine like low dose aspirin, it is important to be your own advocate and find out what you can do to lower your risk of miscarriage in your next pregnancy.

If you are experiencing a miscarriage or have recently experienced one, I am very sorry and my heart truly goes out to you.  I have had my fair share of miscarriages (and one preterm twenty one week loss), and I had to get over it in my own way on my own time. Just like death, I had to go through a grieving process.  I went through so many tests hoping I would find the answer.  Other than having low progesterone, we had just been experiencing a series of bad luck when it came to having a baby.  The only thing that kept me sain was knowing I could get pregnant.  Having a miscarriage is no fun at all, but I had the satisfaction of knowing that I could get pregnant and that one day I would have my rainbow baby!  Also know that there is light at the end of the tunnel!

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