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Miscarriage – Part 2:
Causes and Coping

Couple grieving after miscarriage.

What Causes a Miscarriage?

If you’ve had a miscarriage, you’re probably asking, “Why did this happen? Did I do something wrong? Or, did I forget to do something that could have prevented it?”

The fact is, most miscarriages are completely out of our control. Over ninety percent of miscarriages are caused by some error in development — that we could not have prevented. Most development errors happen with the embryo’s chromosomes or genes. Either the embryo got too many chromosomes, or not enough, or there was a problem with the chromosomes’ structure. Miscarriage can also be caused by development problems with the spine, brain, heart or other major organ systems.

The list of other causes of miscarriage is too extensive to address here, so I suggest you talk to your doctor regarding your specific situation.

Bad Habits Increase The Risk of Miscarriage

To reduce the likelihood of miscarriage, we need to change certain habits.

Quit Smoking

Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage by twenty percent for each half pack inhaled a day. Don’t smoke if you want a normal baby.

Stop Alcohol

Did you know that two drinks a week doubles the risk of miscarriage? And that daily drinking in the first trimester triples the risk? If you want a healthy baby, don’t drink when you’re pregnant.

Say NO to Drugs

Cocaine, methamphetamines, and other street drugs are known to cause miscarriage. Make sure your pregnancy is drug-free! Pot or marijuana DOUBLES the risk of pregnancy failure.

Be Healthy BEFORE Pregancy

Being overweight or having diabetes, high blood pressure and other illnesses all increase the risk of miscarriage. So shape up to give your baby the best chance!

You may be wondering if there’s something you did to cause the miscarriage. If you’ve taken good care of yourself, it’s unlikely you caused the miscarriage by anything you did or didn’t do. Miscarriage is not caused by having sex, working, exercising, or lifting weight. So please don’t blame yourself!

How Do I Cope With Miscarriage?

Miscarriage can be devastating, whether you planned the pregnancy or not. If you strongly wanted this pregnancy, you probably have all kids of hopes and dreams pinned to its success. Even if you didn’t want to be pregnant, you may still feel grief. Miscarriage causes mixed feelings with relief, grief, and sadness all competing in your heart and disturbing your equilibrium.

After a miscarriage, the physical symptoms of pregnancy go away quickly. Breast tenderness, nausea, cramping and bleeding all stop or subside. But they may be replaced by other sensations. You may feel physical symptoms of loss and sadness, like chest pain, pain in the arms or “empty arms syndrome”, or a feeling of emptiness in the stomach or pelvis. You may have hot flashes or mood swings as your hormones drop.

It is incredibly important to let yourself grieve, without judgment. Decide whether you want to share your loss openly with family and friends, or keep it private. Grieving with friends and family is often more comforting than grieving alone. Some people honor the pregnancy loss with a formal ceremony or memorial.

Fathers may experience pregnancy loss just as acutely as mothers, but in different ways. While they lack the physical symptoms, the loss of hopes and dreams can be just as acute as for mothers.

Don’t pressure yourself on a time frame for grieving. You may process the loss in a matter of weeks, or you may take months. The more advanced your pregnancy was before miscarriage, the longer the grieving period. If your grief seems to be taking longer than expected, you may be going through post-miscarriage depression. I recommend you talk to your doctor or midwife.

After a miscarriage, try not to get pregnant for at least two to three menstrual cycles.

To summarize, we saw how miscarriage can be caused by genetic and developmental problems, how important it is to end unhealthy habits for a healthy pregnancy, why you need to let yourself grieve at the pace and in the ways that work for you, and how long to wait before trying to get pregnant again.

Be sure to check out Miscarriage – Part 1: What Is It? And What Do I Do?

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to contact me with comments, questions, and suggestions for future topics:

    Contact Dr. Shelley Binkley, MD

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