MISCARRIAGE; What it is and why it happens
Miscarriage (abortion) is simply the termination of pregnancy before the developing baby reaches the age of viability (adequate organ maturity for life outside the womb). It can occur spontaneously or can be induced/brought about by the use of some medications or manual removal of the products of conception. Although the term abortion is popularly used to describe a willful/deliberate termination of pregnancy, it has the same meaning as miscarriage. So our focus in this article will be on spontaneous miscarriage.
Pregnancy begins with fertilization, which involves a complex process of union of a sperm and egg, with the exchange/combination of structures called Chromosomes, culminating in the maturity and eventual delivery of a baby. The entire process takes about 9 months, divided into 3 parts/trimesters, with each consisting of 3 months. Just see it as early/1st, mid/2nd and late/3rd trimester. Towards the end of the 2nd trimester (after five and half months), the baby would have reached the age of viability, hence loss of pregnancy beyond this point would be appropriately called premature labor, rather than miscarriage.
The commonest factors that lead to miscarriage include;
- Inheritance of abnormal chromosomes/genes.
- Viral infections in the mother; Rubella, CMV(Cytomegalovirus)
- Maternal illnesses; Hormonal problems, thyroid disease, Diabetes.
- Adverse maternal habits; Smoking, alcohol, use of illicit drugs, excess caffeine, poor diet/malnutrition, physical and emotional stress.
- Abnormalities in the womb; cervical incompetence, frequent D&C (Dilation and Curettage)
These factors lead to miscarriage either by the formation of an abnormal baby, creating a hostile womb or producing stress, making it difficult or impossible for the developing baby to thrive. A lot of times, miscarriage is nature’s way of preventing the development and delivery of a baby that has many serious abnormalities.
A baby was born recently with at least one serious deformity in almost all the parts of the body, and he died few hours after Caesarean (operation) delivery, as his malformed organs were unable to cope with the realities of life outside the womb. Nature tries to prevent this by blocking fertilization (and pregnancy) from happening, or stimulating a spontaneous miscarriage early in pregnancy, so miscarriage could be not so evil after all.
Miscarriage is quite common, and most women would have 1 or 2 before going on to give birth normally. If it occurs three or more consecutive times, it is called habitual or recurrent miscarriage, and this requires further evaluation.It is occurs more commonly in older women, and this might be explained by the fact that children of older mothers have a higher chance of being born with abnormalities.
The symptoms of miscarriage are vaginal bleeding/spotting and tummy ache. If you experience any of this at any point in pregnancy, see your doctor immediately in order to prevent any resultant negative consequence.