“Couples who experience a miscarriage often blame themselves because they don’t know why it happened, or they think it could have been prevented in some way,” says Johannesburg-based gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Tom Mokaya. He addresses some concerns to help put your mind at ease.
What are some of the causes of a miscarriage and can it be avoided to an extent?
Miscarriage usually can’t be avoided. The most common causes of a miscarriage, especially in early pregnancy, include genetic problems with the fertilised embryo which occur spontaneously. For that reason most miscarriages are assumed to result from a random abnormality from that particular embryo and are usually not investigated unless one has suffered repeated miscarriages.
Sometimes, the parents may have genetic conditions or other medical conditions that could result in repeated miscarriages. In these instances, medical tests are carried out to establish the cause. Sometimes, even after investigation, the cause is still not be found.
Is there a possibility for miscarriages to occur consecutively?
Consecutive miscarriages are the exception rather than the norm. It is, however, possible to experience them – especially if there is a genetic or medical condition suffered by the mother (or father). This is why it is advised that repeat miscarriages (three or more) are medically investigated.
How long does it take for the body to restore itself to its initial state?
It usually takes your body a month to recover from a miscarriage. However, the psychological effects may last much longer, and this differs from woman to woman. Counselling and family, or social support is vital when you have a miscarriage.
Can the hormones that remain in the body after a failed pregnancy contribute to depression, mental health issues, or other complications?
In cases of an incomplete miscarriage there may be side effects like significant bleeding or infection, which can have long-term effects. That’s why it is advised to always visit a health facility when experiencing bleeding during a pregnancy to determine if it’s a miscarriage or not, and if it is, to ensure it’s completed.
What are some of the steps to heal from a miscarriage physically and emotionally, and perhaps try for another baby?
The physical healing is usually rapid, especially if complications such as excess bleeding or infection do not occur. To help assist in recovery, your doctor may prescribe iron and folate supplements or other medications such as antibiotics as needed. Psychologically, you may require counselling and family support to help heal from this stressful event.
What advice would you give to a couple who wants to try for a baby again after a miscarriage?
If you are healthy and have no long-term complications, and if you are psychologically ready to conceive again, anytime is a good time. It is person-specific and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It is best to discuss your plans with your healthcare provider to decide the best way forward.