According to the American Pregnancy Association, it happens in as many as 10 to 25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies. The baby doesn’t make it to 20 weeks, and the mother suffers a spontaneous abortion — a miscarriage.
Some half of those miscarriages are thought to be “chemical miscarriages,” losses that occur close to implantation of the embryo and look, often, like an extra-heavy period. Makes sense, then, to be suspicious that many women suffer miscarriages and don’t even know it, thinking it’s just late and copious menses.
I heard once it’s possible one in two childbearing women will suffer a miscarriage sometime in her life.
Having suffered three miscarriages myself — one at about 11 weeks and two “chemical” — I can tell you most women ask one question first: why?
If any three-letter word could run the world, that would be the one. Why?
The answers to “Why?” for miscarriages vary. Many times miscarriages occur when there’s a problem with the egg or sperm or their initial product, called a “zygote.” Frankly, in those cases, it’s often that the zygote is defective and likely wouldn’t have made it anyway.
Other reasons include hormone issues or other health problems, like an infection, in the mother. After my third miscarriage, I had my thyroid function tested and discovered my thyroid was, in fact, underactive. A few months after some hormone therapy, I became pregnant and stayed that way.
Harmful substances — tobacco products, drugs, toxins of other kinds — can cause miscarriages. But it probably was not the Diet Coke I drank before I knew I was pregnant that catalyzed mine. Still, I stepped up efforts and good nutrition and overall health, knowing what we feed ourselves has significant impact on all our body systems.
Implantation problems can cause miscarriages, like if the embryo implants too close to the opening, or the inside uterine lining is a little rough. And certainly trauma can cause miscarriage, though a baby is so well protected, it would take quite a bit to harm it. My miscarriage did not happen because I had batted around a few tennis balls. Believe me, I wondered.
Sometimes during a birth I wish I had X-ray vision — with no harmful radiation, of course — so I could see inside a woman’s pelvis and know exactly what is happening. Alas, no one is afforded such a privilege. That to say this: There’s a bit of a mystery to it all. Sometimes when miscarriages occur, there’s simply nothing clear about it.
Along with asking “Why?” most people want to know both how to avoid a miscarriage and how to handle one if it happens.
Avoiding is, well, about basic health. Good nutrition; adequate rest, exercise and hydration; avoidance of potentially harmful substances and activities. But know you can do all the right things and still suffer a pregnancy loss. For me, I think that contributed to why my first miscarriage was so devastating: It wasn’t supposed to happen.