Healing through education: Types of miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss

Woman with pregnancy loss

Pregnancy is a time filled with hope and anticipation, but for some, it can, unfortunately, take an unexpected turn. The loss of a pregnancy is an experience that is deeply personal and often misunderstood.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) nearly 26% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Whether you’re someone who has experienced this loss, a friend or family member trying to provide support, or simply someone curious to learn, it’s important to recognize that each miscarriage or pregnancy loss is unique.

In the following sections, we’ll explore the various types, including spontaneous miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, and stillbirth.

Types of Miscarriage

Spontaneous Miscarriage

A spontaneous miscarriage, or a “spontaneous abortion” as it is sometimes referred to, is when the fetus dies before 20 weeks of gestation. It’s estimated that nearly 80% of all miscarriages occur in the first trimester (or 12 weeks), often caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the developing fetus.

Spontaneous miscarriages can be further broken down into two categories: threatened and incomplete.

  • A threatened miscarriage occurs when a woman experiences symptoms of pregnancy loss, but the fetus is still alive. Common signs of a threatened miscarriage are vaginal bleeding or spotting, abdominal cramps, and lower back pain. While it may be worrisome to experience any of these signs, they don’t necessarily indicate a miscarriage.
  • An incomplete miscarriage is when the fetus has passed, but some tissue remains in the uterus. An incomplete miscarriage often requires medical intervention to ensure that all of the fetal tissue has been removed.

Missed Miscarriage

A missed miscarriage occurs when there is no visible sign that a pregnancy has ended, but the fetus has died. It can occur anytime after eight weeks and is typically diagnosed during a routine ultrasound or through a pregnancy test.


Types of Pregnancy Loss

Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo implants outside of the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. It can be dangerous for the mother if untreated, as the pregnancy tissue can burst and cause internal bleeding. Common symptoms are abdominal pain or pelvic cramping, vaginal spotting or bleeding, shoulder tip pain, dizziness or fainting, and severe weakness.

Molar Pregnancy

A molar pregnancy is a very rare condition where abnormal cells form in the uterus. It occurs when an egg is fertilized, but there’s no embryo. This means a molar pregnancy isn’t usually viable and will not result in a live birth.

Blighted Ovum Miscarriage

A blighted ovum is a type of miscarriage that occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus but fails to develop properly. It’s diagnosed during the first trimester.


Key Takeaway on Types of Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss

Pregnancy loss is a unique and personal experience. Emotional healing after a miscarriage is a difficult and often lengthy process. If you or someone you know has experienced any type of miscarriage, it’s important to seek professional help and emotional support.

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