08:08 09 June 2009
While most pregnancies result in the birth of a healthy baby, every parent knows that some don't. This article also appears on www.bbc.co.uk/parenting/having_a_baby
The most common time for something to go wrong is in the very early days and weeks after conception, when some pregnancies can miscarry.
In the majority of miscarriage cases, it's thought to be nature de-selecting the embryos that are less than perfect, or that aren't going to develop healthily.
In fact, it could well be that many early miscarriages go undetected " your period happens, and you never realise you had conceived. Some miscarriages take place because of a 'blighted ovum' " the fertilised egg has not developed in the way it should, and the body does not continue with the pregnancy.
Maybe one in six confirmed pregnancies miscarries " usually before 12 weeks of pregnancy. Most women who have one miscarriage go on to have a normal, healthy pregnancy next time.
If you experience a miscarriage at home, then you need to see your doctor, and may also need to go into hospital. In some situations, you may need an operation called a dilatation and curettage (D & C) to be sure your uterus is clear.
Miscarriage is not fully understood, and some miscarriages just 'happen' without any explanation, other than 'nature taking a hand' or because of a blighted ovum.
"...babies do vary in their activity levels..."
Sometimes babies die suddenly inside the womb without any apparent reason. The mother realises the baby has stopped moving " though don't assume this is the only reason for lack of movement, if this happens to you. Babies do vary in their activity levels, and may even sleep for long periods. If you think your baby has stopped moving, call the hospital and report it. If there's any concern, it may be suggested that you come to the antenatal clinic so the baby's heart can be heard.
"Info: Miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous loss of a fetus before 24 weeks of pregnancy. Stillbirth is when a baby dies in the uterus after this date. Termination for abnormality means that a miscarriage has been made to happen, because of an abnormality detected in the fetus as a result of a scan or other antenatal testing or screening."
Miscarriage is always a sad event, and both you and your partner will need understanding, sympathy and support. You may want to talk over the possible reasons for the miscarriage with a doctor, and ask about becoming pregnant again. If you want to, then there's generally no reason why you shouldn't, although you may wish to wait for your period to come, so you can tell when you will be able to conceive.
With a later miscarriage, if it's possible, you might find it is helpful to see and hold your baby. If your baby has grown enough, and your loss has happened in hospital, you may be helped to clothe your baby, and care for him or her. A midwife or doctor may take a photograph for you to keep. The midwife may suggest more than once that you might like do these things. Many parents then agree and they are glad in later months and years to have these experiences of expressing their love and sadness in this way.
"I was surprised how much my partner needed to grieve after the miscarriage. Too often, people think it's just the woman who'll be upset " but he was, too. He was just getting into the idea of being a dad, and then everything changed again."
You may be asked permission for a post-mortem examination. It may help find out why your baby died. A post-mortem is done carefully, and will not affect how your baby looks.
Q. I lost my baby and I keep thinking if I had done something differently, or not done something, this wouldn't have happened. Help?
A. Miscarriage is almost always something that's outside your control. Your doctor may be able to reassure you about this. Don't blame yourself for something that you couldn't have prevented.
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