Some pregnancy losses do not cause any problems, while others may be serious and life-threatening for the mother, if untreated. However, the most difficult part for most families is the emotional stress of the loss itself.
The loss of a baby at any time in pregnancy can be emotionally and physically difficult for the mother and other members of the family. For some families, the timing of the loss in the pregnancy may make the experience more or less difficult. For example, an early loss, before the mother even knew she was pregnant, may not be as stressful as a loss later in pregnancy after feeling fetal movement or seeing the fetus on ultrasound examination. However, parents may have strong feelings and sadness whenever a loss occurs.
Parents often experience a grief reaction to a loss, including feelings of the following:
These are normal responses to loss and may take months and sometimes years to work through. Experience with grieving families has found the following helpful:
Vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of pregnancy loss. In later pregnancy, a woman with a stillborn may no longer feel fetal movements. However, each type of loss has specific symptoms.
Also, each woman may exhibit different symptoms, or the symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
The vast majority of pregnancy losses are due to genetic or chromosomal abnormalities. However, other factors can also play a role in pregnancy loss. These include, but are not limited to the following:
Some women have recurrent problems in which pregnancy loss occurs over and over, usually three or more times. It is often difficult to find a cause for recurrent losses and couples may need additional testing for a genetic or chromosomal problem.
Fortunately, most pregnancy losses are usually isolated events. A woman with a spontaneous early pregnancy loss has an 80 – 90% chance of a normal pregnancy the next time she conceives.
Specific treatment for pregnancy loss will be determined by your physician based on:
Once pregnancy loss occurs, the uterus must be emptied of all the fetal tissues to prevent further complications. Counseling and support of the family is important. Your physician can help you find resources and support organizations that can help after pregnancy loss.