Miscarriage

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Miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation.  It can be a difficult time for many families.  Some families are traumatized and grieve the death of their baby.  Others feel it is a medical issue. Some consider it a life experience.  It is common to experience a wide variety of emotions that change frequently.  

Common symptoms of or with a miscarriage include bleeding, spotting, and cramping.  Your health provider may recommend medications or a surgical procedure called a D&C or D&E.  These are often done if there is a risk of infection or other health concern for the mother or the mother is experiencing prolonged bleeding.  After a miscarriage, it can take several weeks to feel physically well.  Tender breasts, milk production, uterine cramping, and spotting can be common.  Tell your health provider right away if you have heavy bleeding, a foul smelling discharge, or a fever.  

The most common causes of miscarriage in the first trimester are random genetic abnormalities.  Other known causes include low progesterone levels, anatomical concerns in the uterus, infection, or early cervical opening (known as an incompetent cervix).  Blood disorders, autoimmune conditions, or other health concerns for the mother can also contribute to a miscarriage.  Very often, no cause is found.  Work, exercise, sexual intercourse, a history of sexually transmitted diseases, use of over-the-counter medicines, or previous elective abortion has not be proven to increase the risk of miscarriage.  

Physical symptoms of grief are common following a miscarriage.  They may include heart palpitations, fatigue, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, increased appetite, nausea, headaches, difficulty concentrating, or withdrawal from social activities.  Emotional symptoms may include sadness, denial, anger, or frustration.  Fathers can experience similar symptoms and emotions after a miscarriage.  Partners often feel left out because the attention is focused on the mother.  If any symptoms last for a prolonged period of time, interfere with life activities, cause difficulties in relationships, are concerning to you, or cause feelings of despair/wanting to hurt yourself, please see a health professional immediately.  

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