While there is a significant amount of stigma surrounding the discussion of miscarriage, it is far more common than most women realize. In fact, according to the American Pregnancy Association, anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of all confirmed pregnancies will end in miscarriage.
By strict definition, a miscarriage occurs when a pregnancy ends on its own, typically in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, but potentially any time before 20 weeks. Often, the cause can’t be determined. Most commonly, however, it is due to an abnormality in the baby’s chromosomes. It’s important to note that in most cases, a miscarriage is not related to anything the mother did or didn’t do.
During pregnancy, you should seek immediate medical care if you experience:
- Weight loss
- True contractions, typically 5–20 minutes apart
- Mild to severe back pain
- White-pink mucus discharge
- Bleeding that is brown or bright red, whether it is accompanied by cramps or not
- Sudden decrease of pregnancy symptoms
Can Miscarriage Be Prevented?
Unfortunately, because most cases of pregnancy loss are caused by abnormalities in the baby’s chromosomes, not much can be done to prevent miscarriage. However, you can take steps to remain as healthy as possible both before you conceive and after you’ve discovered you’re pregnant. These steps include:
- Avoid smoking, alcohol use and drug use
- Keep stress levels low
- Make healthy eating choices—lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein
- Get regular physical exercise
- Take folic acid daily