Although it’s a topic many don’t talk about, miscarriages are more common than you may think. Up to 30 percent of women at some point in their reproductive years have a miscarriage.
Miscarriages often occur early during the first trimester, while others happen later in pregnancy and are caused by an underlying medical issue that must be further tested with your provider. Research shows that first trimester losses result from your body recognizing something about the pregnancy couldn’t develop properly.
“It’s just a chance occurrence, not necessarily an abnormality with the woman or her partner,” said Dr. Melissa Emmerich, a Marshfield Clinic OB/GYN. “We don’t always have an absolute answer as to why a miscarriage occurs.”
In many cases, a miscarriage isn’t diagnosed until you come in for your first obstetrics visit. At the 10-week visit, your provider checks for a heartbeat. Some women may experience signs of miscarriage, such as bleeding and cramping prior to the first scheduled visit. Once diagnosed, options for management and follow up are discussed. Some couples prefer allowing a natural miscarriage to complete itself, or others may benefit from assistance with medication or surgery.
A lot of women who go through a miscarriage feel like they are going through it alone, and no one cares or understands that they had a baby that they lost,” she said. “It’s very important to respect that this happened and give them emotional support.”
Talk to your provider
As a provider, Emmerich wants to understand her patients’ support system, explains options for managing the miscarriage and schedules a follow-up appointment. She also asks about their partner and how both are supporting one another through this loss.
Everyone who thinks they have had a miscarriage should get evaluated, so we can help,” Emmerich said. “It’s very important to follow up for both the physical and emotional recovery.”
Whether the process happens naturally or with medical assistance, you should meet with your provider to make sure the bleeding and pain is completely resolved before getting pregnant again. Emmerich advises women to have at least one normal cycle after a miscarriage so they know their hormones are back on track, and it is fine to wait longer than that.
“All women are a little bit different on how they are affected by a miscarriage,” she said. “Do what is right for you.”
Build a support system
Friends and family members should offer support to women who suffer a miscarriage. Online forums explain more on what to say or do if you have questions.
“There are things that don’t help, like saying ‘Oh, don’t worry you can have another child.’ That does not help,” Emmerich said. “It’s more about saying, ‘I’m sorry for what you’re going through and how can I help you?’”
Online websites also may be a place for you to share your experience with others who have gone through the same experience. Marshfield Clinic Health System also has formal counseling support groups available.
“It’s a really hard thing,” Emmerich said. “And sometimes, just acknowledging that and being there for them, is what a woman needs.”