Clinically put, a miscarriage is defined as the early and unplanned termination of a pregnancy. Emotionally, it is much more than that. Expectant parents often feel an innate sense of sadness and failure when they lose an unborn child. This can affect both mother and father equally.
Much research has been carried out to discover why miscarriage occurs. Sometimes, the cause is obvious; other times, it is baffling, particularly when seemingly healthy parents fall victim.
It is generally agreed that there are five main causes of miscarriage:
1. Genetics. Genetics accounts for about 50% of all early miscarriages. For mostly unknown reasons, the baby fails to develop properly in the womb. This eventually leads to a miscarriage, as the fetus is not strong enough to continue growing.
2. Hormonal imbalance. Generally, when women find it hard to conceive, they are more likely to miscarry. The main reason for difficulty with conception is hormonal imbalance, which also relates to reproductive organ disorders and diseases.
3. Immune system. Problems with blood supply to the placenta can starve the fetus of nutrients and leave it too weak to develop or survive.
4. Infection/Illness. Very high temperature and some viruses or infections, such as Rubella, may cause miscarriage, as can conditions such as diabetes.
5. Anatomical. If the cervix is weak, it may start to open as the womb becomes heavier in later pregnancy. Cysts may cause miscarriage in later pregnancy and can also alter the shape of the womb, which can result in miscarriage.
The factors that cause these problems cannot always be avoided. The following are common risks, and how a pregnant mother should regard them, when considering fetal health:
- Ailments. Conditions such as Rubella, Diabetes and PCOS can increase the probability of miscarriage. Sufferers should see a doctor or midwife for preventative measures as soon as pregnancy is suspected.
- Smoking. It has been proven that smoking causes miscarriage, so pregnant mothers should quit as soon as possible.
- Drugs. A proven fact, as with smoking, the use of drugs (e.g., cocaine) can cause miscarriage and should be avoided.
- High Blood Pressure. Losing weight, gentle exercise and a healthy diet can reduce some cases of high blood pressure. However, medical intervention is necessary with conditions such as pre-eclampsia.
- Pharmaceuticals. Some prescription drugs can cause miscarriage. With a doctor’s approval and support, withdrawal from these should be gradual and substituted with an alternative medicine.
- Age. Older woman are more likely to suffer miscarriage, so it is important that they lead an extra healthy lifestyle when pregnant.
An expectant mother who leads as healthy, organic and active a life as possible may still have to experience the devastation of miscarriage. Even so, steps should always be taken to reduce the risk of miscarriage as much as possible, such as eating a healthy, balanced diet, doing light exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and avoiding stress.