You never realise how common a miscarriage is until you have one and start talking to others about it. It’s easy to blame yourself. Was it that double espresso? That long run? That stressful day? Most of us understand that getting pregnant can be difficult but what many don’t realise is that the same goes for staying pregnant. In fact, nearly 25 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. And what about conceiving after miscarriage? Some couples may want to start trying to conceive right away and others are fearful and want to wait. Here’s what you need to know about conceiving after miscarriage.
What are common causes for miscarriages?
“The most common cause for a miscarriage is truly bad luck: it’s the way that particular sperm and that particular egg got together and the resultant embryo was not genetically perfect and so the embryo doesn’t develop well, and a miscarriage ensues,” says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, MD, and a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University. “Miscarriages actually occur in about 15% or so of all pregnancies and most occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.” Rates may even be higher than some experts estimate because many women don’t realise they’ve had a miscarriage since they can often happen before she realises she’s even pregnant.
It’s also important to note that miscarriages can happen during any pregnancy, however, they’re more common with older women as the older a women gets, the less optimal her egg quality becomes. “For example, with Down’s syndrome, a syndrome involving an extra chromosome caused by a problem in the development of the egg, the incidence of Down’s syndrome at age 37 is about 1/200 pregnancies whereas at age 40 it’s 1/100 and at age 44 it’s about 1/25. Many of the pregnancies with Down’s or other genetic issues end in a miscarriage, but I just use that as an example of why older women will have more miscarriages.”
Now there are other reasons for miscarriages besides bad luck.
Sometimes there is a wall or septum in the uterus where the embryo plants and it doesn’t develop well there or sometimes the woman doesn’t ovulate well enough to make the necessary amount of progesterone from her ovary to support the developing embryo,” says Dr. Minkin. “The term recurrent miscarriages in general has been in the past used to describe women with three miscarriages in a row, but many obstetricians will now do a work-up for two or more miscarriages.” That said, before you start worrying, Dr. Minkin is quick to point out that if you have one miscarriage, your chances of miscarrying in the next pregnancy really isn’t increased significantly at all and even if a woman has had three miscarriages, her chance of having a good pregnancy her next pregnancy is still about 25%.
There are things you can do to optimize your chances of having a healthy baby.
“Start taking prenatal vitamins with extra folic acid when you’re trying to conceive,” says Dr. Minkin. “Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs other than medications which are prescribed for you and try to get as close to your ideal body weight as you can.”
Lastly, stress and a positive mindset are a big part of a successful pregnancy journey, so remember that for most women, even with two or three miscarriages, your odds of having a healthy baby are excellent! If you are concerned about conceiving after miscarriage, set up an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options.