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Most pregnant women are concerned about miscarriage. And every woman who has suffered through a miscarriage knows those concerns are real. In fact, 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Miscarriages are sometimes referred to as spontaneous abortions—the loss of a fetus even before you know you’re pregnant. Miscarriages are the body's natural way of dealing with an abnormal pregnancy. Some of the factors that may contribute to a miscarriage include:

  • Smoking
  • Drug use
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Certain infections
  • Severe illness in mother
  • Uterine abnormalities
  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Exposure to a large amount of radiation
  • Severe accident

A miscarriage is usually characterized by bleeding accompanied by cramps and pain in the center of the lower abdomen. If you experience heavy bleeding or if you pass clots of pink or grey matter, call your provider. Sometimes women experience bleeding and do not have miscarriages, but deliver healthy babies at the planned due date. It’s never wrong to play it safe.

Many women live in fear that everything they do will cause a miscarriage. Contrary to your beliefs, sexual intercourse will not cause a miscarriage (unless your doctor tells you that you're at a high-risk), nor will moderate exercise, emotions or stress, or a minor fall/accident. Some women who have already experienced one miscarriage believe they are doomed—a false fear. Miscarriage is a common and, sometimes, natural occurrence—your body’s way of letting you know your child would not survive outside of the womb. If you experience a miscarriage, remember you’re still normal and you can try again.

Coping with a miscarriage can be an emotional and trying experience. It may be difficult to fully mourn your loss because you never had the chance to hold or see your baby. It may also be difficult because you don’t have enough support—maybe nobody knew you were pregnant, or maybe you keep hearing the words “try again.” It’s also difficult for you to grieve without a concrete memorial service or way of saying goodbye to your unborn baby. If you’re dealing with these frustrations, remember many women go through miscarriages, sometimes multiple miscarriages, in their life. There are support groups for women coping with miscarriage at your local hospital, through your provider’s office, or even on the web. Discuss your pain with others and grieve. When you feel up to it, you may want to try to get pregnant again, but first talk to your provider about your risks.

Click below to read about related topics.

Prenatal Care
Childbirth Education
Lifestyle Guidelines