The natural loss of a pregnancy earlier than 20 weeks gestation is known as spontaneous abortion, or a miscarriage. About 75-80 percent of women who experience miscarriage will do so earlier than 12 weeks. It’s estimated that around one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, with half of them occurring before the woman even realizes she is pregnant.
It’s important to remember conception is a very complicated process.
When a miscarriage does occur, it’s usually because the pregnancy is not developing properly. A variety of factors can contribute to a miscarriage, such as:
- Internal problems, such as infections or hormonal inconsistencies
- Smoking or drug use
- Exposure to radiation or poisons, such as arsenic, lead, or formaldehyde
- Genetic or chromosomal problems in the fetus that usually have no connection to the mother’s health or genes
Fortunately, most women who miscarry can become pregnant again and give birth to a healthy baby.
The most common sign that something is not right is vaginal bleeding. Some bleeding is to be expected – about 15 to 25 percent of women experience bleeding or spotting during their pregnancy without harm to their baby. However, bleeding that signals a possible miscarriage is usually light, brown or bright red in color, and occurs repeatedly over a few days. This is sometimes accompanied by cramping or lower backache. Keep in mind that during pregnancy, changes to your body will occur, but it’s important to check with your doctor if you’re concerned.
It’s normal to experience feelings of emptiness, anger or disappointment after a miscarriage. You may feel sad or detached from your partner. It’s okay if these feelings last for a while. Speak with your health care professional about ways to cope, possible causes of the miscarriage, and how to move forward.