Losing a pregnancy in the first twenty weeks is known as a miscarriage; nearly 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, with more than 80% of those happening before the twelfth week. These statistics do not include the loss of a fertilized egg before the pregnancy is known about, or established-it is estimated that some 30-50% of fertilized eggs are lost either before or during the process of implantation.
Over half of all miscarriages that occur during the first trimester are believed to be random events caused by chromosomal abnormalities in you're the fertilized egg, meaning the egg or sperm had the wrong number of chromosomes, preventing the fertilized egg from a normal development. Other times a miscarriage can be caused by a problem occurring during the sensitive time of early development, or an egg which doesn't properly implant in the uterus. Generally speaking, if your baby has a normal heartbeat which is clearly visible on ultrasound at around 6 weeks and you have had no bleeding or cramping, your odds of having a miscarriage drop significantly, continuing to drop with each passing week.
Higher Risk of Miscarriage
Any women can miscarry, however there are specific risks which make those women who fall in these categories more likely to miscarry than others. Age is a definite factor as older women are more likely to conceive babies with chromosomal abnormalities-therefore more likely to miscarry. A forty year old woman is approximately twice as likely to miscarry as a woman half her age, and the risk of miscarriage rises with every child borne. Should you have a history of two or more miscarriages, you have a higher risk of having another, and if you have had uterine or cervical problems in the past such as cervix insufficiency or uterine fibroids, you also are at a greater risk of miscarriage. Should you or your partner, or a family member have a history of genetic problems, or if you have previously given birth to a child with a birth defect, your chances of miscarriage go up.
Smoking, drinking, using drugs, or taking certain medications are all factors in miscarriage risk, with certain studies even showing a link (albeit small) between caffeine consumption and miscarriage. Even over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or anti-inflammatory drugs can up your miscarriage risk, and environmental toxins such as lead, arsenic, formaldehyde, benzene, large doses of radiation or anesthetic gases can do the same. While the information regarding how the father's condition contributes to a couple's risk for miscarriage, it is known that miscarriage risk rises as the father's age increases. The theory is that sperm may be damaged by environmental toxins such as mercury, lead, industrial chemicals or pesticides. Finally, some studies have shown an association between obesity and miscarriage, and if you decide to have amniocentesis, or your doctor tells you that you should, there is an increases risk of miscarriage following the procedure.
Following a pregnancy you may find yourself depressed and sad; it is hard to share the grief of a miscarriage with others as they may try to "comfort" you with platitudes such as "It was for the best," or "You'll be pregnant again in no time." While they may truly be trying to help, it is likely that those who have not experienced the loss of a pregnancy really do not understand the feelings you are having. Even your husband or partner may just want you to get over it and get on with life, which can be a tall order when you are feeling such a wide array of emotions. Take it easy on yourself, and allow you to experience the emotions and grieve for your baby, however if your sadness does not subside in time, consider seeing a professional.