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Early Pregnancy Loss

First Trimester | Second Trimester | Third Trimester | Postpartum 

 
The loss of a pregnancy during the first 13 weeks of the pregnancy (the first trimester) is called early pregnancy loss, miscarriage, or spontaneous abortion.
 
Early pregnancy loss is common.  It happens in about 10% of pregnancies.  About half of the cases of early loss are caused by a random event in which the embryo receives an abnormal number of chromosomes.  This can originate for an abnormal egg or sperm; if there is the wrong number, development will not occur normally, sometimes resulting in the loss of the pregnancy.  The likelihood of early pregnancy loss increases as a woman gets older and can occur in up to one third of pregnancies in women older than 40 years old.
 
Some women worry that they have done something to cause their pregnancy loss. Working, exercise, having sex, or having used birth control pills before getting pregnant do not cause early pregnancy loss. Morning sickness does not cause early pregnancy loss. Some women who have had an early pregnancy loss believe that it was caused by a recent fall, blow or even fright. In most cases, this is simply not true.
 
Smoking, alcohol, and caffeine also have been studied as causes of early loss. Some research suggests that smoking increases the risk, while other research suggests that it does not. Alcohol use in the first trimester may slightly increase the risk of early pregnancy loss, but the research is not clear. It is best to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy.  Consuming 200mg or less of caffeine a day (the amount in two cups of coffee) does not increase the risk of pregnancy loss.
 
Bleeding and cramping are the most common symptoms of early pregnancy loss.  A small amount of bleeding and cramping in early pregnancy is relatively common.  Bleeding often stops on its own, and pregnancy continues normally. Bleeding and cramping also can be a sign of other pregnancy problems. It would be best to contact your OB/GYN if you begin to have bleeding and cramping.
 
We are here for you every step of the way.  If medical issues arise during regular business hours, call your doctor’s office.  After hours, call our 24/7 OB Hotline at 713-442-BABY (2229).