Can a past miscarriage affect your future pregnancy? Hear it from a gynaecologist
If you’ve lost a child to miscarriage and are scared it will happen again, we want to reassure you that not all miscarriages have an effect on future pregnancies. We’re going to talk about the implications of a miscarriage in detail.
Recurrent pregnancy loss is a major cause of concern
Dr Sneha Sathe, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility Mumbai, says that after experiencing a miscarriage, most women fear that they’ll never get pregnant again, or that they will miscarry again. It is important to understand that miscarriages are common.
About 20 to 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage due to a non-recurrent cause. What you need to keep in mind is that a previous pregnancy loss doesn’t mean you’re any less fertile. After a miscarriage, it is very much possible to become pregnant again, have a full-term pregnancy, and deliver a healthy baby. Most women will have a successful pregnancy the next time they conceive.
“You need to understand that recurrent pregnancy loss or RPL, which affects 1 to 3% of women, is defined as the loss of two or more pregnancies prior to 20 weeks. The thing that you need to note here is that if you have lost more than 2 pregnancies, it is quite unlikely that this is a random event and more likely that a specific abnormality or underlying condition is behind all the losses. If it remains undetected or untreated, your chances of losing another pregnancy might increase,” explained Dr Sathe.
You might wonder about the ideal waiting period before you try to conceive again. Unfortunately, there is no official consensus on it.
“For some women, this period should return within four to six weeks after the miscarriage. If you have had an early miscarriage, and unless advised otherwise by your doctor, you may begin trying after you have had your first period. The important thing is that you need to be ready, not just physically but also emotionally. Some women might be advised to wait due to medical reasons such as second-trimester loss, molar pregnancy, complications with the curettage procedure, etc,” explained Dr Sathe.
You need to watch out for the causes of miscarriage
This can play an important role in your next pregnancy. More than 70 per cent of early miscarriages are caused by embryo aneuploidy (where there are more or less than the normal quota of 46 chromosomes). The risk of a chromosomal abnormality in the embryo and of miscarriage increases with age.
“After the age of 40, more than one-third of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Uterine anomalies such as fibroids, adhesions, or polyps may also result in miscarriage if left undiagnosed and untreated. Congenital uterine malformations such as a uterine septum or double uterus may be associated with recurrent pregnancy loss. Women with poorly controlled diabetes, obesity, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and Luteal Phase Deficiency have a higher risk of miscarriage,” she explained.
She added, “Abnormal blood clotting in the small placental blood vessels may result in RPL. Factor V Leiden, Prothrombin Gene Mutation, Antithrombin III and Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1 are genetically determined factors that may increase the risk of miscarriage. Women with Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APLA) and Thrombophilias are at a higher risk of miscarriage and even pregnancy-related complications like hypertension, growth restriction, and sudden foetal demise.”
Here are some health complications that can occur due to miscarriages
“It can take a while to recover physically and emotionally after a miscarriage. How long it takes to recover physically depends on how far along you were in your pregnancy, the treatment you need and whether or not you had any complications. After your miscarriage, you experience discomfort, cramps and bleeding for up to 2 weeks. There is a risk of heavy bleeding. Sometimes, some pregnancy tissue remains behind in the womb and unless cleared by a check curettage, it can lead to infection. It is important to consult with your gynaecologist in order to prevent the complications that can arise during or after a miscarriage,” recommended Dr Sathe.
Can any precautions help reduce the risk of a miscarriage?
Doing some lifestyle shifts can actually help in avoiding miscarriages. Here 6 important tips:
1. Take the tests recommended by your doctor to try and identify the underlying cause of the miscarriage. Doing so will help you take the necessary steps to avoid a miscarriage in the future.
2. Pay attention to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Try to overcome the stress and depression that may have occurred due to your miscarriage. Seek help from a counsellor if required.
3. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise on a regular basis.
4. Begin folic acid supplementation before attempting another pregnancy.
5. Stop smoking, cut down on caffeine and alcohol, and maintain an optimum weight.
6. Drink enough water.
“Moreover, have an optimistic approach and take care of your overall well-being,” concluded Dr Sathe.
A miscarriage can be tough on the body and mind but a little vigilance can go a long way in encouraging you to try again.