Facts about miscarriage

If you’ve experienced the heartache of a miscarriage, you probably wondered whether something you did — or didn’t do — is to blame. The truth is, most miscarriages are random events that occur because the fetus isn’t developing normally.

According to national statistics, as many as one in five known pregnancies end in a miscarriage, defined as the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks. That number is likely much higher, occurring in women who lose the fetus before ever realizing they were pregnant.

Common Miscarriage Myths

Myth 1: Say no to sex

Contractions resulting from orgasms may scare you, but they won’t cause a miscarriage. The baby is fully protected by the amniotic sac and strong uterine muscles. But it’s still important to use safe sex measures like condoms to protect yourself and your baby against sexually transmitted infections.

Myth 2: Stop working out

Most experts agree that exercise during pregnancy — with your doctor’s okay — is good for you and your baby. It can help you stay in shape and prepare for labor and delivery.

Myth 3: Don’t stress out

Every expectant mom experiences worry and stress — over money, marriage, work, traumatic events, even family tragedies. You’ll get through it, and your baby will, too.

Myth 4: Don’t lift your toddler

Picking up that youngster will not do any harm to your unborn baby. But, to prevent injury to your back make sure you squat to pick up your toddler — and use your legs.

Myth 5: The baby “knew” it wasn’t wanted

Babies are often unexpected. But feeling ambivalent about the pregnancy, or thinking about having an abortion, doesn’t cause the baby to die.

Key Miscarriage Facts

According to the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists, approximately 60 percent of miscarriages occur when an embryo has an abnormal number of chromosomes during fertilization — a problem that happens by chance, not as a result of anything the parents did.

Maternal health conditions such as hormonal problems, infections, and diabetes, also can play a role, but in many cases, the causes are simply unknown.

Miscarriage Risks

Other factors linked to an increased risk of miscarriage include:

  • Age. Women over age 35 have a higher risk of miscarriage than younger women. Paternal age also may increase risk.
  • Lifestyle factors such as smoking, using illegal drugs, and heavy alcohol use.
  • Weight, including being underweight or overweight.
  • Invasive prenatal tests.
  • Exposure to radiation and toxic substances.

To learn more, or to schedule an appointment with an OB/GYN near you, call 1-866-MyMagee (696-2433) or visit the Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC website.

Want to learn more about maternal fetal medicine and preterm birth? Check out our Medical Monday’s post on Newborn Medicine.