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Miscarriage affects 20% of pregnancies. Women deal with it differently. Some are practical and want to move on and think about trying again as soon as possible. It is best to wait for your next period after a miscarriage, which can be 3-6 weeks later, then try to conceive if you feel ready. Some women are devastated by miscarriage and grieve for the baby they will not meet. Both reactions are normal and you may find that once you mention you have had a miscarriage other women will open up to you and discuss their experience.

If you have had a miscarriage it is most commonly caused by a chromosomal problem. Basically, the pregnancy didn't form correctly. There is nothing you could have done to prevent it and you did not cause it. If you were stressed or had a few drinks this did not cause it. It is not your fault. Women who have had one or two miscarriages are not at increased risk of miscarriage and most women will conceive and have a full term uncomplicated pregnancy after a miscarriage. Of course you will be nervous the next time and some hospitals will offer a reassurance ultrasound. This is performed after 9 weeks gestation. If you have an ultrasound at 9 weeks that shows the fetus is the correct size with a heartbeat present your risk of miscarriage reduces from 20% to 5%. This is why the scan is done at 9 weeks and not earlier. At 12 weeks the risk of miscarriage is <1%.

Miscarriages are usually associated with bleeding heavier than a period and crampy pain. Sometimes a miscarriage can be associated with lighter bleeding or no symptoms and detected on scan. This is called a silent or missed miscarriage. There are 3 management options for a miscarriage. The first is to do nothing and let it happen naturally. The second option is medication to speed up what happens naturally and the third option is a D&C or surgical procedure. Your doctor will advise you which option is best for you based on your person preference and type of miscarriage.

By Dr Vicky O'Dwyer

*If you have a medical related question or need to talk to someone about miscarriage or any related issues please contact your Doctor for advice. 

Useful contacts

The Miscarriage Association of Ireland has branches in many counties throughout Ireland.