Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy loss’

How do you know if you are having a miscarriage?

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Among women who know they are pregnant about 10 to 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage, however we don’t know the exact number because many may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant.

Are there signs and symptoms?

Vaginal bleeding or spotting, period-like cramps and severe belly pain are all symptoms of a miscarriage. Many women have these signs and symptoms in early pregnancy and don’t miscarry.

When should you contact your health care provider?

If you have any of the signs or symptoms, call your prenatal care provider. Your provider may want to do some tests to make sure everything’s OK. These tests can include blood tests, a pelvic exam and an ultrasound. Call your provider if you have any bleeding or spotting, even if it stops. It may not be caused by anything serious, but your provider needs to find out what’s causing it.

If you’ve suffered a miscarriage, we have support and resources to help you during this difficult time. Visit our website to learn more.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

2013d030_3168An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo grows in the wrong place. Ectopic means “out of place.” Approximately 1 in 50 pregnancies in the US is ectopic.

Usually, a woman’s ovaries release an egg every month, about 14 days before the first day of her period. This is called ovulation. When a couple has sexual intercourse and does not use birth control around the time of ovulation, a man’s sperm swim to meet the woman’s egg. When a sperm penetrates the egg, it’s called fertilization or conception. The fertilized egg then travels to the woman’s uterus, where it burrows into the lining of the uterus and begins to grow.

If the fertilized egg implants somewhere else other than the uterine lining, it is an ectopic pregnancy. In most ectopic pregnancies, the fertilized egg attaches to the fallopian tube. However, it can also attach to an ovary, the cervix, or somewhere in the abdominal cavity.

Unfortunately, any place outside of the uterus doesn’t have the right environment for a baby to develop. There is not enough room and if the fertilized egg continues to grow, it can cause excessive bleeding. This bleeding can be life threatening for the pregnant woman.

Risk factors

Any woman can have an ectopic pregnancy, but there are a few risk factors that increase your chances. These include:

  • A prior ectopic pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • STDs
  • Damage to a fallopian tube
  • Pelvic infections or inflammation
  • Pregnancy when using an intrauterine device (IUD) or after having a tubal ligation
  • Fertility treatments

Signs and symptoms

You will not know right away that you have an ectopic pregnancy. You may have the typical signs of pregnancy, like a missed period and nausea. Or you may have no signs of pregnancy. If you take a home pregnancy test, you will get a positive result.

But as the embryo gets bigger, you may have signs that are unusual and not typical of early pregnancy. These include:

  • Pain in the pelvic area. The pain may be mainly on one side. It can start out mild and then become sharp and stabbing.
  • Lower back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Low blood pressure

Treatment

There are two types of treatment for an ectopic pregnancy: medicine (methotrexate) or surgery. Your provider will decide which one is best. After treatment, your provider regularly checks your hCG levels until they return to zero. This can take a few weeks. If your levels stay high, it may mean that you still have ectopic tissue in your body. If this happens, you may need additional treatment.

If you have had an ectopic pregnancy, it is important to take time to grieve for your loss. You can have a healthy pregnancy following an ectopic pregnancy but ask your provider when it is OK for you to try to conceive again.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Reflections on Jacqueline Kennedy

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

With the awareness and news coverage this week of the Kennedy assassination, I fell to thinking about the strength of Jacqueline Kennedy.   Not only had she lost her husband but a few months before she had also lost her infant son as a result of premature birth.

Mrs. Kennedy had a history of difficult pregnancies.  She had a miscarriage in 1955, followed by a stillbirth in 1956.  While Caroline was full term, John Jr. was a preemie and of course, her final child, Patrick died after only living 40 hours from what we now call Respiratory Distress Syndrome.   Sadly, this occurred 27 years before the March of Dimes grantees helped develop surfactant therapy, which was introduced in 1990.

Mrs. Kennedy was a heavy smoker and smoked throughout her pregnancies.  This was before the US Surgeon General’s warning was known to the public. Although smoking was more common in those years, no one was aware of the repercussions of smoking during pregnancy. Today, it is still a risk factor for stillbirth, low birth weight babies and prematurity. The Great American Smokeout was yesterday; if you do smoke, please consider quitting.  Smokefree.gov has tips.

I also want to highlight the possible effects of stress in pregnancy. There are several types of stress that can cause problems during pregnancy.  Negative life events, like death in the family, long-lasting stress such as depression and being the wife of the President, could have also played a role.

The loss of any child is difficult; I cannot image the pain she went through.  Premature birth can and does happen to any woman.

Coping with miscarriage

Monday, October 27th, 2008

This is a tough subject to write about, but also a common one.  I’m sure each of us knows at least one woman who’s had to deal with a miscarriage – that is, if we haven’t experienced it ourselves. The New York Times recently published a woman’s personal story about her miscarriage and how she coped with this loss.

When a girlfriend of mine miscarried last year, it was truly heart-wrenching to watch her go through this experience. At the time, she had been married for just under a year, and was excited to welcome her first child into her new life with her husband. Upon learning of her miscarriage, I did the best I could to comfort her and encourage her to keep trying.  But I found that what my friend really needed was the opportunity to grieve.

As a society, I find that we sometimes sweep the issue of miscarriage under the rug. Women are sometimes expected to deal with a miscarriage behind closed doors and get over it quickly. And maybe that works for some. But for my friend, she just needed the time and space to mourn over this loss. Once she was able to do that, she found her way to move past this bump in the road and continue down her life path.

Fast-forward to today. My girlfriend is now in her 33rd week of pregnancy, expecting a boy. All signs point to a healthy baby.  And, I couldn’t be happier for her.