Types of Pregnancy Loss:
A miscarriage is defined as a pregnancy loss before 20 weeks of gestation. According to the March of Dimes, about 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage - most often before a woman misses a menstrual period or even knows she is pregnant. Miscarriages are more likely to happen within the first three months of pregnancy. Only about 1% of miscarriages happen after the 20 weeks, and these are known as late miscarriages.
Symptoms of a miscarriage from WebMD:
Bleeding which progresses from light to heavy
If you experience these symptoms, contact your medical professional immediately, or simply get to a hospital if it occurs after hours.
Stillbirth is defined as the loss of a baby after 20 weeks of gestation and birth. A baby is stillborn in approximately 1 in 200 pregnancies. Because many stillbirths take place in what seem to be normal pregnancies, the parents are hardly ever prepared for this devastating result. After pregnancy loss, most women who try again after a stillbirth will have a normal pregnancy and delivery of their baby. If the cause of the stillbirth was a chronic maternal illness or a genetic disorder, the risk is somewhat higher. On the whole, the chance of a successful and healthy pregnancy after pregnancy loss is more than 90%!
Recurrent Pregnancy Loss:
For a miscarriage, a recurrent pregnancy loss is defined as three or more miscarriages. This is the medical definition. However, your medical professional may call two miscarriages a recurrent pregnancy loss.
A large amount of miscarriages that take place within the first trimester are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the baby. Chromosomes are minuscule structures inside the cells of the body which carry many genes. Genes determine all of a person's physical characteristics, such as sex, hair and eye color and blood type. Most chromosomal problems happen by chance and are not related to the mothers or fathers health.
Some could be caused by the mother's age. This can also be a factor in miscarriage. Studies have shown that the risk of miscarriage is 12% to 15% for women in their 20s and increases to about 25% for women at age 40.
According to WebMD, other causes could be:
Exposure to environmental and workplace hazards such as high levels of radiation or toxic agents
Incompetent cervix (the cervix begins to widen and open too early, in the middle of pregnancy, without signs of pain or labor)
Lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs
Disorders of the immune system including lupus
Severe kidney disease
Congenital heart disease
Diabetes that is not controlled
Certain medications, such as the acne drug Accutane
Bacterial vaginosis most likely due to preexisting endometriosis that can affect implantation or early embryo development
Group B strep
Most of the time there is no reason given as to why a stillborn occurred. After pregnancy loss, there may be no explanation given, because the doctors simply do not know.
Some possible causes (or an increase of stillbirth occurrence) are:
Problems with the umbilical cord or placenta
Maternal conditions that existed before or developed during the pregnancy
History of a previous stillbirth
High blood pressure
Age: teens under the age of fifteen and women older than their mid-thirties
Fetus grows too slowly
Serious nutritional deficiencies
Infections during pregnancy
Exposure to environmental agents such as pesticides or carbon monoxide
After Pregnancy Loss:
After pregnancy loss due to a stillbirth or a miscarriage, the mother and father will inevitably be devastated. There are some ideas on how to cope with these feelings of grief below. Everyone has their own way of dealing with grief, but as long as it works for you and is healthy, there seems no harm in it.
Some medical professionals may use the term "wastage". Wastage simply means that there has been a loss of something. Be prepared for other medical terms, such as "spontaneous abortion" that meds use to describe a miscarriage. Do your best not to be offended or shocked by the medical terms used. This is simply how they communicate with other professionals and how they were taught.
Here are some things you can do to help you deal with the grief of miscarriage or a stillbirth after pregnancy loss:
Name the child
Arrange a funeral for the child
Reading books on the subject
Talk about it
Find others who have gone through the same thing
Locate a support group in your area
Find professional help: it is a natural grieving process and may take a long time. This is natural and a psychologist or grief counselor could be very beneficial.