A miscarriage is the loss of a life and the loss of a dream. And along with that sense of loss comes worry that you may never have another child.
So having a miscarriage is devastating – the feeling of emptiness and sorrow; the heartache that’s so hard to bear.
What causes miscarriages
The vast majority of miscarriages occur before week 12. This is because they are usually caused by a defect in the foetus’ development during the first critical trimester, when all the baby's vital organs are being formed.
Knowing that something was wrong can go some way towards alleviating the sadness, but only provides limited comfort. And to make things worse, a miscarriage brings worry in its wake. Is something wrong with me? Maybe I can't get pregnant. Will I ever be a parent? Do I dare try again?
You're not alone. Miscarriage affects one in every four women in New Zealand.
Early signs of miscarriage
You can’t stop a miscarriage. It usually starts with pain similar to premenstrual cramps, followed by bleeding. However, bleeding during early pregnancy doesn’t necessarily signal a miscarriage, so you should always contact your LMC if bleeding occurs.
What to do
Call your LMC and she will notify the hospital you’re coming. On arrival, a doctor will perform an internal examination to determine whether the miscarriage is complete or incomplete. If their assessment is that the miscarriage is complete, you will be discharged. If not or if it is uncertain, you may need to be scanned.
If the scan shows retained placenta, you’ll probably be offered 3 options;
a) A wait and see monitoring
b) Tablets to induce a natural delivery to ensure the uterus is completely empty. This requires monitoring and usually a return to hospital.
c) A Dilation & Curettage (D&C) operation which will require a stay in hospital afterwards for a few hours.
Try again after a miscarriage
After a miscarriage, it usually takes just over a month before the menstrual cycle resumes. But remember that you can try again whenever you want. Having a miscarriage doesn’t mean it will happen again. It’s true that women who have had one or two miscarriages are at higher risk. But the odds aren’t against you – far from it.
Can anything be done to prevent a miscarriage? Not really. Your body draws up its own blueprint for the new little person, and all you can do is avoid smoking, drugs, alcohol and extreme exercise. But can you do anything else? Unfortunately not.
All you can do is try again, have faith and support each other here – because you’re not alone.
For more information, go to www.miscarriagesupport.org.nz