Womb Or Cervical Dysfunction
Problems with the womb or cervix structure or function can increase the likelihood of miscarrying. Many womb or cervical dysfunctions make miscarriage particularly likely to occur in the second trimester as the developing fetus grows in size. A weakened cervix, known as an impotent cervix, commonly causes miscarriage, as the cervical muscles dilate too early in the pregnancy. This often results in the early expulsion of the fetus from the womb, before it would be able to survive on its own.
Good to know: If medical professionals are aware that a pregnant person has a weakened cervix e.g. because they have previously experienced a miscarriage for this reason, a temporary stitch may be put around the cervix to keep it closed. This procedure is usually performed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to prevent miscarriage, and is removed around week 37 in preparation for the birth.
Other problems which may affect the pelvic area and cause miscarriage include the presence of non-cancerous growths in the womb and having a uterine form variation . This is normally diagnosed using imaging tests. If a person is aware that they have an abnormal womb structure they should discuss the possibility of miscarriage with their doctor in advance of trying to get pregnant. Additional check-ups may be scheduled in order to detect any possible complications as early as possible in the pregnancy.
Uterine abnormalities commonly linked to miscarriage include:
The Effects Of Stress
As weve looked at, chromosomal problems are considered to be the primary cause of early miscarriage. Miscarriages can occur up to 22-23 weeks of pregnancy. A baby born from 23-24 weeks onwards has a chance of survival if born prematurely, so losses after this time are known as stillbirths and can be officially registered as deaths. These later miscarriages are thought to mainly be caused by underlying maternal medical conditions.
But what about stress?
Stress doesnt tie into either of those categories. Can stress cause miscarriage? Its certainly a topic that does the rounds in pregnancy circles quite frequently, so you may be surprised to hear that the official medical standpoint on this matter is that there is no link between miscarriage and maternal emotional well-being.
What is scientifically proven and medically acknowledged, however, is that emotional stress can cause physical symptoms. Looking at the matter in this way, doesnt it seem like theres a relatively good case for arguing that stress may be a risk factor with regard to miscarriage?
Researchers certainly think so, and many studies have been conducted to try and prove one way or another whether there is, in fact, a correlation between emotional pressure and pregnancy loss.
How Is A Miscarriage Diagnosed And Treated
Your healthcare provider will perform a pelvic exam and an ultrasound test to confirm the miscarriage. If the miscarriage is complete and the uterus is clear, then no further treatment is usually required. Occasionally, the uterus is not completely emptied, so a dilation and curettage or dilation and extraction procedure is performed. During these procedures, the cervix is dilated and any remaining fetal or placental tissue is gently scraped or suctioned out of the uterus. You will usually resume your menstrual period in about 4 to 6 weeks.
If a miscarriage was not confirmed, but you had symptoms of a miscarriage, bed rest is often prescribed for several days, and you might be admitted to the hospital overnight for observation. When the bleeding stops, usually you will be able to continue with your normal activities. If the cervix is dilated, you might be diagnosed with an incompetent cervix, and a procedure to close the cervix might be performed.
Blood tests, genetic tests, or medicine might be necessary if a woman has more than two miscarriages in a row . Some diagnostic procedures used to evaluate the cause of repeated miscarriage include:
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Symptoms Of A Miscarriage
Pain and bleeding in early pregnancy can mean that you are having a miscarriage, but not always. Bleeding is very common in early pregnancy, affecting about one in four women, many of whom will go on to have a healthy baby. Early bleeding that does not lead to miscarriage will not have caused your baby any harm.If the bleeding is being caused by a miscarriage, there is no treatment or therapy that can stop the miscarriage from occurring. However, it is still very important that you see a health professional.
Pregnancy Loss Leads To Post
Almost one in three women develop post-traumatic stress disorder after early pregnancy loss, a new study shows. For some, signs of PTSD, anxiety and depression are still evident nine months later.
Early pregnancy losses are common, but the consequences and psychological impact are often overlooked. Current care varies, but most women receive no formal psychological support. They often rely on patient support groups for information and guidance.
This study aimed to investigate levels of PTSD, depression, and anxiety in the nine months after early pregnancy loss. Researchers hope the findings will help shape future response and support for women.
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Emotional Trauma Of Miscarriage On Men Is Often Overlooked
After we arrived home from the hospital, my head pounded, my stomach cramped and my body bled. I had carried a baby for 13 weeks and then, after a sonogram showed no movement and no heartbeat, Id endured a procedure to remove him from my body.
When my husband and I saw no motion on the ultrasound screen just the day before, wed held each other and cried. But I now resented that my body, and not his, was experiencing the physical repercussions of our miscarriage.
Miscarriage, which by some estimates occurs in 1 in 4 pregnancies, can be a very painful experience for pregnant women but less acknowledged is the pain their partners feel, too. Over the next months, I worked through my emotions and healed from physical symptoms of our miscarriage, but I sometimes forgot that my husband, Peter, had endured a big emotional trauma as well.
There was the loss of what could have been it was the loss of this dream, he said, explaining the profound sense of loss he felt then. All of a sudden it was ripped away from us in what felt like a really violent way.
Too often, Will Courtenay, a clinical social worker and expert in mens health, said in an email, we deny and dismiss mens vulnerable feelings of loss and sadness. Its very easy then for mens often subtle feelings of grief to get lost in the more obvious and physical experience of loss his partner has experienced.
Causes Of A Miscarriage
A miscarriage usually occurs because the pregnancy is not developing properly. The development of a baby from a female and a male cell is a very complicated process. If something goes wrong with the process, the pregnancy will stop developing. Miscarriages are more common in older women than younger women, largely because chromosomal abnormalities are more common with increasing age.Another cause of miscarriage may be that the developing pregnancy did not embed itself properly into the lining of the uterus . The natural reaction of the uterus is to expel the non-viable pregnancy.
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Easing Your Miscarriage Fears
The first several weeks of pregnancy can be hard on mothers mentally, emotionally, and physically. Surging hormones can be to blame, but so can the natural worry about the safety and wellbeing of your child.
Try to remember that your fears are normal, but that this phase will pass. Take time to practice mindfulness, meditation, and take some time for yourself. This could include any stress-reducing activities you enjoy like yoga or going for a walk.
Take time to educate yourself with helpful facts and how to recognize what your body is going through, but try to not become burdened down by your worries.
As a word of comfort, remember that some symptoms that may seem concerning are often normal in early pregnancy. While bleeding and cramping can indicate a miscarriage in some cases, remember that its also common in healthy pregnancies during the first trimester. In fact, up to 25 percent of women experience some type of bleeding in early pregnancy.
If you do experience any unexplained spotting, reach out to our team at Cache Valley Womens Center. We can conduct testing like an ultrasound or blood test to make sure your pregnancy is still on track and healthy.
What Are The Risk Factors For Miscarriage During Pregnancy
Straining or lifting during pregnancy: lifting and straining do not really increase your risk of miscarriage. Working during your pregnancy: you dont have to stop working, even if your work involves standing or sitting for a long time as working during pregnancy is not connected to the likelihood of having a miscarriage.
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Can Depression Be Cured
With treatment, most people recover from depression. Treatment can include one or more of the following:
- Social support: Community services or parenting education.
- Family therapy: With your partner and/or children. This can help when children are older.
- Individual therapy: Talking one-on-one with a family doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other professional.
- Medication: Drugs used most often to treat depression are SSRIs .
Why Is This Important
For many women, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy is traumatic and has a lasting impact. Given the numbers of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies, the researchers are concerned that this is a hidden public health issue.
They hope their research will highlight the associated psychological distress. It could prompt those closest to the women – friends, colleagues, employers and family members – to better support them and their partners following a pregnancy loss.
These findings could encourage women with PTSD to seek help. The researchers call for clinical management to be more sensitive to the psychologic implications of early pregnancy loss delays in access to treatment to be reduced and for women to be able to access specialist care for early pregnancy loss.
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Trying For Another Pregnancy After Miscarriage
There is no right time to try for another pregnancy. Some couples decide they need time to adjust to their loss, while others want to try again right away. It is usually suggested you wait until after your next period before trying again. As it is possible to become pregnant again straight away, it is important to use contraception until you are ready to try again.
What Can Cause Stress In Pregnancy
For some women, finding out that they are pregnant can be a stressful experience in itself. You could feel like you have lost control or dont have enough resources to manage what youll be experiencing. Stress can come from having a pregnancy that is unplanned, or becoming pregnant after previous negative experiences with a pregnancy, birth or motherhood, such as a miscarriage or the death of a baby.
It can be stressful while waiting for the results of your antenatal tests, and dealing with the physical changes of pregnancy or a complicated pregnancy.
Pregnancy can lead to practical challenges, such as financial difficulties, moving house and job changes.
Emotional stresses, such as grief, such as a death in the family, past anxiety, depression or other mental illness, can cause more stress during pregnancy, as can drug and alcohol problems.
If more than one of the above are happening to you at the same time, you could experience even more stress.
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What Are The Causes Of Miscarriage
A miscarriage is a fairly common complication of early pregnancy, in which the developing embryo or fetus dies in the womb of natural causes, or due to exposure to substances, i.e. in certain medications, which are unsuitable for use during pregnancy. The term miscarriage is used to describe this process when it happens during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy:
- A miscarriage which occurs in the first trimester is known as an early miscarriage
- A miscarriage which occurs in the second trimester is known as a late miscarriage
Loss of the fetus which occurs after week 20 of pregnancy is known as a stillbirth, or fetal death.
Most miscarriages are early miscarriages, and are caused by factors including:
- Chemical pregnancy, when the fertilized egg fails to implant in the uterine lining, and the pregnancy can only be evidenced by measuring levels of the pregnancy hormone, hCG, which will be detectable in blood or urine pregnancy tests. The embryo does not develop sufficiently to be visible on an ultrasound scan.
- Chromosomal abnormalities, which are present in the fetus.
- Problems with the placenta, the organ responsible for the exchange of nutrients and gases between the pregnant person and the fetus.
Certain long-term health conditions, particularly immunological disorders, such as diabetes or systemic lupus erythematosus, may cause early or late miscarriage.
- Adverse reactions to medications
- Environmental factors, such as exposure to radiation
- Womb or cervical dysfunction
Theories On Stress & Miscarriage
Several studies on pregnant women have found that stress is associated with a higher risk of miscarriage.3,4 Stress may be caused by financial problems, unemployment, high work demands, marital or relationship conflict, divorce, physical or emotional abuse, or death of a loved one.
Women can also experience stress directly related to their pregnancies, like fear of childbirth or anxiety about prenatal testing or the babys health. People may perceive different life events to be stressful. A womans perception of stress is more important than the actual number of stressors in her life.
The link between stress and miscarriage in humans is not fully understood, but there is biological evidence to suggest that stress and miscarriage are related. Stress activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is the bodys stress response system.5 Studies on rodents have found that when the HPA axis is activated by stress, it affects production of progesterone, a reproductive hormone that is involved in conception and maintenance of a healthy pregnancy. This is believed to put females at higher risk of miscarriage.
Pregnant women who experience stress are also more likely to engage in unhealthy habits like using tobacco, which is associated with higher rates of miscarriage.
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How Can Stress Affect My Baby And Me
Some people might also experience:
- obsessive thoughts
- eating problems
- trouble relaxing or winding down
Chronic stress could also cause problems for your baby. These can include effects on your unborn babys growth and the length of gestation . They can also increase the risk of problems in your babys future physical and mental development, as well as behavioural issues in childhood.
What Does This Mean
No one can conclusively say that stress leads to miscarriages but it does not mean that it is a myth. It can be said that normal daily stress like finances or worrying about work will not have an impact on pregnancy, but a very high level of stress can lead to miscarriage. A sudden unexpected financial problem can be associated with high risk and pregnancy resulting in miscarriage.
Irrespective of the connection with miscarriage, any type of stress in pregnancy can have an impact on the baby and it is important to manage stress. It might be unavoidable for women, especially those who have suffered recurrent miscarriages, however, it is a good idea to consider ways in which you can reduce stress. It will improve the odds of a healthy pregnancy and will have a positive impact on your health.
While there is no proof that stress leads to miscarriages or the absence of stress leads to healthy pregnancies, it is advisable to look at a situation in a new light and reduce stress. Consciously look at the positive sides of every situation and try to reduce stress from your life. There are some factors that you simply cannot stop stressing about during pregnancy but it should not alter your health. Adopt techniques for stress management to reduce the risk of a miscarriage and to live healthy in all areas of your life.
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The Effect Of Miscarriage On Future Pregnancies
Most of the problems that cause miscarriage happen by chance and are not likely to happen again. One miscarriage does not significantly increase the risk of the same thing happening with your next pregnancy, as long as no specific cause has been found. Testing is not usually offered to women who have miscarried once or twice because it is very unlikely that anything would be found.However, women who have had three consecutive miscarriages are at risk of miscarrying again. If you fall into this category, you can attend the Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic at The Royal Womens Hospital for further investigations, counselling and management of future pregnancies.
Facts About Early Pregnancy Loss
- One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage in the UK – with most happening early before 12 weeks
- There are 250,000 miscarriages every year and 10,000 ectopic pregnancies
- Miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks
- An ectopic pregnancy is one that develops outside the uterus, or womb
Dr Jessica Farren, specialist registrar and clinical fellow at Imperial College London, said miscarriage could be a very traumatic experience.
“For some women, it’s the first time they have experienced anything beyond their control.
“These can be profound events which stay with you.”
Even though these losses are at a very early stage, “women are looking for validation for them”, Dr Farren says.
Being told it’s “only a bag of cells” is not always helpful.
Among a control group of women who had healthy pregnancies, 13% had symptoms of anxiety and 2% of depression one month after giving birth.
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