Monday, June 16, 2008

What is a miscarriage?
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before 24 weeks, with most miscarriages actually occurring during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Unfortunately, miscarriage is very common, affecting one in eight pregnancies.

What causes a miscarriage?
There is seldom an adequate explanation for why a woman experiences a miscarriage. Studies inform us that approximately 50 per cent of lost pregnancies have failed to develop normally, either due to chromosome or genetic problems or because of structural (bodily) problems. There is no apparent explanation for the remaining 50 per cent of cases.

  • Certain maternal illnesses are associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, although these are very uncommon.
  • Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage.
  • There is a gradual increase in the risk of miscarriage as the woman gets older.

It is important to remember that an ordinary lifestyle that includes exercise, going to work, minor falls or taking the Pill before pregnancy does not increase the risk of miscarriage.

What are the symptoms of a miscarriage?

The most common symptom is bleeding from the vagina. Lower abdominal pain is also very common. Some women have no symptoms at all and the miscarriage is only diagnosed when they are given an ultrasound scan at their antenatal clinic. This is referred to as a 'silent miscarriage', and can be very distressing for the woman and her partner.

What to do if a miscarriage is suspected?If a woman is bleeding from the vagina and feels pain then she must consult her doctor.

When is it necessary to consult a doctor immediately?

  • If the woman is bleeding at such a rate that she needs more than one sanitary towel per hour. In this case, too much blood is being lost and the flow must be stopped.
  • If the woman feels weak or faint. These are both signs that she is losing too much blood.
  • If the woman experiences severe stomach pain, this may be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • If the woman experiences fever, shivering or a smelly vaginal discharge, this can be a sign of an infection or inflammation.


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