Early pregnancy loss is so common that many obstetricians consider these miscarriages a normal part of reproduction. That doesn’t make the loss any easier. Learn about the seven most common miscarriage causes, and how to increase your chances for a healthy pregnancy.
A few months after my first child was born, I wanted to be pregnant again—as soon as possible. I wanted my children to be close in age, the closer the better, and when my son was 13 months old, I got my wish and discovered I was pregnant.
But before I even had a chance to share the news with my husband (he was traveling out of the country), I miscarried. I was only five weeks pregnant. Truth be told if we hadn’t been trying to conceive, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed that my period was late—and so I was surprised by how sharply I felt the loss. My obstetrician’s observations that I was in good company—that around 15 percent of “known” pregnancies (i.e., pregnancies confirmed with a test), and up to half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage during the first trimester—didn’t soothe my sadness. Nor did his assurance that the miscarriage wasn’t caused by something I had done, or hadn’t done, that it was “just one of those things.” But I was comforted when I considered the other statistic: that most of the time miscarriage is a one-time occurrence.
If you have had a miscarriage, chances are you want to know what caused it, and what you can do to prevent it from happening again. For starters, relax. “Since you got pregnant once, the odds are 80 percent that you will go on to have a healthy baby, and as many healthy babies after that as you want,” says Henry Lerner, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School and author of Miscarriage: Why it Happens and How Best to Reduce Your Risks (Perseus Book Group, 2003). Next, accept that you may never know why you miscarried. “The majority of the time miscarriage is a random, isolated event and we can’t pinpoint a cause,” he says. Women who go on to have two or three miscarriages (called recurrent miscarriage) may ultimately learn they have a medical problem that is causing their pregnancies to end spontaneously, but even with recurrent miscarriage, half the time there is no known cause. Read more…