Pregnancy After Miscarriage
Trying for another pregnancy following the loss of a miscarriage can be less than easy. Although miscarriage is actually the most common events in pregnancy (as many as 40 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and many actually occur before a woman even realizes she is even pregnant), many women find balancing their desire for a family with some of the difficult emotions that a miscarriage can bring a delicate line to walk.
Kim Malburg found herself fearful when she and her husband decided to try to conceive after experiencing two back-to-back miscarriages. "It is an emotional roller coaster," said Kim. "I just try not to think too much about it and treat each pregnancy differently."
Fortunately, if you are considering trying for another pregnancy following a loss through miscarriage, you should know that your chance of miscarrying again is very low. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, less than 5 percent of women experience two consecutive miscarriages and an even lower percentage--just 1 percent--experience more than two recurrent losses.
In general, women's healthcare providers view a miscarriage as a single, isolated occurrence rather than an indictor of a potential fertility problem. Usually, a single miscarriage that occurs before 20 weeks will not have any effect on a woman's future chances of getting pregnant.
If you are planning on trying to conceive after experiencing a miscarriage, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Consider testing. If you have had three or more recurrent miscarriages or a loss after 20 weeks, talk to your doctor about testing before trying for another pregnancy. There could be an underlying genetic or even a structural issue, like a septum wall in your uterus, causing problems. Many women swear by the benefits of progesterone therapy to ward off repeat miscarriages. "It's not routine for first-time pregnancies," explains Dr. Elizabeth Nowacki, an OB/GYN at St. Vincent Fishers Hospital in Indiana. "But for someone with a previous loss or someone who has had trouble getting pregnant...absolutely start that progesterone conversation."
- Know your risks. If you are over the age of 35, have chronic health conditions, or are a smoker, you may be at an increased risk of miscarriage and/or decreased fertility.
- Practice self-care. Don't be afraid to take time to care for yourself, both physically and emotionally following a miscarriage. Seek professional help if you feel you need further assistance coping with grief--remember there is no "right" or "wrong" way to endure a miscarriage. One study cited by the ASRM even suggested that couples who received psychological counseling and more intensive emotional care in their subsequent pregnancies had better birth outcomes than those who did not.
- Understand your emotions. A pregnancy after a miscarriage may bring up a whole host of emotions, from joy and happiness to a fresh wave of grief for your loss. "Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to dealing with the fear [of miscarrying again]," explains Dr. Zev Williams, director of the Program for Early and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (PEARL) at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "For many women who have had miscarriages, they will feel extra vigilant and nervous." Although the mix of hormones and emotions are normal, be open with your feelings with your partner and health care provider.
- Don't lose hope. The ASRM reports that even in cases of unexplained recurrent miscarriages (meaning no underlying cause or reason for the miscarriages can be identified), roughly 50 percent or more of women, depending on their age, will go on to have successful future pregnancies. And that? Well, that's great news.
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