Have you ever had a miscarriage?


Because it is not often discussed, you would almost think it is rare. Unfortunately, many pregnancies are lost, a mournful and often lonely moment for parents who must deal with it. But you are not alone, and talking about it together could ease the pain a bit if you feel up for it.  

Isala participants’ data also shows that almost 17% have (yet) experienced a miscarriage in the first pregnancy, 15% in the second pregnancy, 19% in the third pregnancy, and nearly 27% in the fourth pregnancy.

This is consistent with the literature data: of all ‘confirmed’ pregnancies, an average of 10-15% results in a miscarriage. The mother’s age is the most critical risk factor: the risk of miscarriage is about 10% for women between 20 and 42 years, but more than 50% for women aged 42 (Wikipedia). It is estimated that a quarter of all women will ever have one. So if you’ve had a miscarriage, you’re really not alone. I also had a miscarriage on my third pregnancy when we already had two healthy children. This was discovered during the first ultrasound at 9 weeks: the fetus was big enough, but the heart was not beating. Because the fetus did not come off spontaneously and we were almost leaving on our vacation trip to Hungary, I did not want to be suddenly confronted with the sometimes-heavy bleeding that accompanies a miscarriage. I thus opted for a curettage the day after the discovery. Curettage is an operation under anesthesia, but it is usually performed in the day clinic.   

The cause of an early miscarriage is almost always a predisposition or chromosome abnormality. There is something wrong with the fetus, and nature is looking for the best solution: the fetus does not grow any further and is ‘rejected’ by your body. Usually, the causes of miscarriages are not hereditary defects, so that there are no consequences for a subsequent pregnancy. A first miscarriage is typically no reason for further investigation. Examination after multiple miscarriages also rarely provides a clear explanation for the miscarriages. However, while it is rationally a good decision ’by nature’ that pregnancies are terminated spontaneously when something is seriously wrong, every miscarriage is emotionally difficult, even if you already have two healthy children as I had.  

Can you prevent a miscarriage? Unfortunately not. Of course, you can try to live as healthy as possible if you want to become pregnant or once you know that you are pregnant: healthy food, no alcohol, no smoking, etc. It is also recommended that every woman who wants to become pregnant (again) take folic acid daily. But even if you haven’t taken folic acid before a miscarriage, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Folic acid does not really reduce the risk of miscarriage, but it does reduce the risk of a child with an open back. 

Because four out of five miscarriages occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, it is likely that you have not announced your pregnancy to many people by the time you and your partner are confronted with a miscarriage. The taboo and emotional pain can make it difficult to talk to those around you about losing your pregnancy, making you feel very lonely. Because talking about it can help accommodate the miscarriage, we thought this conversation starter should not be missing. However, keep in mind that this could probably be a painful topic. If you notice someone withdrawing from the conversation, give them the space they need.   

Always look for help in your surroundings. For example, there are support groups that can be helpful for you.  

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Isala wants to break the taboo around vaginal health. That’s why all our research kits contain great conversation starters  (also online available). Use these cards as inspiration for interesting chats with friends and family, and find out how much there is to say about vaginal health.

You can also start a conversation online by clicking on a question and adding your response. You can do it anonymously – your first name is fine. The Isala researchers will answer your question. This way, we can increase knowledge about the female microbiome and break the taboo together. That’s our dream at Isala. Feel free to add comments and ask questions – let’s start the conversation together!