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What is a miscarriage?


A miscarriage is a pregnancy that ends spontaneously before 20 weeks of pregnancy, when the fetus has no chance of living independently outside the womb.

After 20 weeks, pregnancy loss is considered a stillbirth. A fetus that survives into the third trimester (weeks 28 to 40 of pregnancy) has a chance of survival.

The medical term for miscarriage is spontaneous abortion, abbreviated as SAB.

The medical term for repeated miscarriages is habitual abortion.

Your medical caregivers must use this terminology for correct diagnosis, treatment, billing, and to comply with legal regulations. They do not intend to be offensive by using the term “abortion” with regard to your loss.

When you experience miscarriage it’s important to determine if there was an underlying cause. Many myths circulate about possible reasons for miscarriages occurring but they are not always true.


What does NOT cause miscarriage?

You will not lose a pregnancy through working outside your home, unless it is in a dangerous environment. Dangerous work environments include:

  • Farms that use insecticides and herbicides known to interfere with reproduction
  • Hospitals, (especially sterilizers where the worker is exposed to ethylene oxide gas from 0.1 ppm to 250 ppm), laboratories, Nuclear Medicine, Radiology, and incinerator disposals
  • Food processing plants with incinerators that produce CHCs
  • Workplaces near a source of radiation that delivers more than 100 mSv during the pregnancy

You will not lose a pregnancy from moderate exercise.

You will not lose a fetus by having gentle sexual intercourse during your pregnancy.

The common cold or a yeast (candida) infection will not cause you to lose your baby.

If you have a pre-existing condition like thyroid disease or diabetes and are taking your medications as prescribed, you have a good chance of bringing your pregnancy successfully to term.


When is a miscarriage not a miscarriage?

You may not have actually had a miscarriage.

A blighted ovum means the gestational sac formed, but there is no baby in it. Your body may be slow to realize the absence because you have all the symptoms of a pregnancy, like nausea and tender breasts. Blighted ovum may only be discovered during an ultrasound.

A complete molar pregnancy means the sperm fertilized an empty egg, and no embryo formed. These are called moles. A partial molar pregnancy means two sperm fertilized the same egg, and only a little bit of placenta and embryo is formed.

In these cases, you have not lost a child, but just the products of conception.


Understand more on Miscarriage:

What causes miscarriage?

Signs & symptoms of miscarriage

What happens after miscarriage?

What is natural progesterone?

Progesterone treatment and side effects

The information in this article has been taken with permission from the official Lawley booklet on Understanding Miscarriage. 


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