Miscarriage: Causes, Signs and Prevention

What if? This refrain could be on replay in your head – what if you miscarry? The possibility of it is frightening. The majority of miscarriages occur in the first 3 months of pregnancy (before the placenta is completely formed). What are the causes of a miscarriage and how do you prevent it from happening to you?

What is a miscarriage?


A miscarriage is a pregnancy that terminates before Week 20 of pregnancy. Miscarriage is also termed a spontaneous abortion, and it means that the pregnancy comes to an end on its own, and not because of the mother’s decision (that’s an abortion). According to the WHO, about 12 to 15% of recognized pregnancies result in miscarriage.1

Causes of miscarriage

Miscarriage is caused by the inability of the fertilized egg, embryo or fetus to grow, resulting in the death and expulsion of the baby. There are many reasons why a pregnancy comes to an end – the fetus has abnormal chromosomes, the organs of the fetus aren’t growing well, among other reasons.

You might feel beside yourself with grief if a miscarriage occurs, but there is no need to blame yourself. It doesn’t mean that all your hopes of expecting are dashed – you only need some time to recover, to get your heart and body ready for pregnancy again.

Miscarriage statistics

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The embryo (fetus) at the start of the pregnancy is small and hence the maternal body might be unable to detect the changes in the body. When a miscarriage occurs, some women might even mistake it for a late period.

It’s said the miscarriage statistics in the first trimester are as follows:

  • About 10% of all miscarriage occurs between Week 1 and 4
  • About 50% of all miscarriage occurs between Week 5 and 8
  • About 30% of all miscarriage occurs between Week 9 and 12

A report from the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that more than 1 million fetuses are lost in the United States every year, and the majority of these occur before Week 20.2

Signs of miscarriage

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Take note of the following signs, especially before Week 12 of pregnancy:

  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Contractions
  • Morning sickness suddenly improves or disappears
  • Basal body temperature drops

These signs are not always the signs of a miscarriage – they also can indicate that the fetus is growing fine. You will need to get yourself checked at your OB-GYN’s to be sure. One instance in which a miscarriage cannot be detected except through an ultrasound imaging is a missed miscarriage (a missed abortion) – when the fetus dies but the body doesn’t recognize the termination of pregnancy.

Miscarriage prevention

quit stop drinking alcohol

Alas, there is no known method of preventing a miscarriage from taking place since in most cases, because they are the result of chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus. However, if you got the news that you’re expecting, don’t leave everything up to the fates. Do what you can in your power to not put yourself and your baby in danger.

  • Stop drinking alcohol and smoking
  • Keep your body warm
  • Take in enough folate (folic acid) to help your fetus with the cell division going on in the body
  • Be sure to get an OK from your OB-GYN before taking over-the-counter medicine
  • Don’t let stress build up and go to the hospital when you don’t feel well

What kinds of miscarriages are there?

Get yourself checked regularly. Should the fetus dies, the fetus, placenta, and other products of conception are expelled from the uterus. If all products of conception are expelled, it is known as a complete miscarriage. However, there are times when the miscarriage is an incomplete miscarriage – the contents of the uterus is not completely expelled. This might arise in the need for surgery, so note the risks, and don’t skip any of your appointments with the OB-GYN.

What causes miscarriage isn’t the end

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Miscarriage – a word laden with lots of grief and sadness. However, it must be acknowledged that miscarriage happens often and that nobody is to blame. People might not want to talk about it, but you can rest well knowing that you’re not alone. The end of pregnancy is not the end of the world. Many women have gone on to bear children. You only need to pick yourself up, leave your sadness behind, and look forward to the future.

  1. Follow-up for improving psychological well-being for women after a miscarriage 
  2. Fetal and Perinatal Mortality: United States, 2013