Any woman who has experienced a Miscarriage of pregnancy will know how traumatic it is both physically and mentally. For many they are told that their baby has not survived but the body has not passed the foetus. In this instance it is very important to seek medical help to help assist this process.
What is a Miscarriage?Unfortunately miscarriages are fairly common and occur in around 10-20% of all pregnancies.A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before 24 weeks gestation though they most often occur in the first 12 weeks.
Often the cause isn’t known but genetic and developmental processes are thought to play a big part, as do lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking alcohol and drug taking.
How Is It Treated?Most miscarriages are detected by the expectant mother when vaginal bleeding occurs. This may begin as a light spotting, but commonly is a sudden heavy blood loss. During the early weeks of pregnancy the heart rate cannot be seen so if bleeding has occurred a hormone test is taken and then repeated after 48 hours. If the level of hormone has decreased, this indicates that the pregnancy has ceased to progress.
Occasionally a missed- miscarriage may be detected on a routine scan showing the foetus has no heart beat and the body has not yet begun the process of expelling the foetus from the body.
If the woman has experienced blood loss and has noticed a large clot or a small amount of tissue has been expelled, this indicates that the miscarriage has been complete and the female will be advised to monitor blood loss and seek medical advice if it worsens of is prolonged.
If there has been no significant blood loss or a scan shows that there are still products in the uterus this can be encouraged to expel using drugs or surgery, though the woman may want to simply let nature take its course and wait for the body to eject the contents over time.
Drug therapy involves taking a tablet that helps to soften the cervix and cause the uterus to contract encouraging ejection of the products.During surgery, a general anaesthetic is given and a small suction device in inserted into the uterus and the products are sucked away. Surgery is not offered routinely tot hose who have miscarried after 12 weeks.
Bleeding will occur after any of the treatments and should sub-side after 10 days. If it continues, this may indicate that there are still some products or tissues remaining in the uterus; this must be treated to stop bleeding.
Some woman are very unfortunate and may suffer repeated miscarriage, after the third miscarriage the tissues can be sent away for analysis to try and determine the cause of the loss.
What About After Care?Some women can cope amazingly well in the event of a miscarriage and can resume their normal activities quite quickly. For others the whole experience can be very traumatic and emotionally draining. The are many organisations that provide therapy and counselling for families who have had a miscarriage and these services can help support the family whilst they grieve.
There is no ‘right’ way to act or manage your loss and everyone will cope in their own way. It is important to try and communicate with your partner as they will be grieving also but will be very concerned over your health and well-being and will usually want to support you.
Treating a miscarriage can involve the use of drugs, surgery or by letting nature take it’s course. The gestation of the pregnancy and how the body has managed so far may determine how the miscarriage is treated.