Few things are more devastating than having a miscarriage when you're trying to start or grow your family.
Even worse? Feeling like it's your fault. A recent national survey shows that 41% of women who had a miscarriage felt they were responsible for causing it. But that couldn't be farther from the truth.
"Many women have guilt after a miscarriage, thinking 'I didn't relax enough,' 'I didn't eat right,' 'I was too stressed out,'" says Jane Frederick, MD, a fertility specialist in Orange County, CA.
"Of course there are many factors as to why a woman may miscarry, but typically there is nothing she could have done. Some miscarriages are unexplained, others due to chromosomal abnormalities, underlying health problems, or, in unforeseen cases, an infection of some sort."
Here are some other common faulty ideas set right.
Myth No.1: Having one miscarriage means you're likely to have another.
"After your first miscarriage, there is no greater chance of having a second," Frederick says. Your risk does slightly increase after having two miscarriages, though. "If a woman is suffering recurrent miscarriages, it's best to consult with a fertility specialist who can offer a treatment plan."
"Vaginal bleeding is incredibly common in the first trimester, occurring in 20% to 40% of pregnant women," says Brian Levine, MD, an OB/GYN in New York City. Even heavy, prolonged bleeding can happen during a healthy pregnancy.
Myth No. 3: Miscarriages rarely happen.
The national survey found that Americans believe miscarriages happen in only 5% of pregnancies -- but according to the American Pregnancy Association, 10% to 25% of them end in a miscarriage.
Myth No. 4: You have to wait 3 months after a miscarriage to try and conceive again.
A recent study suggests you can have a full-term, healthy pregnancy even if you conceive in as little as 1 month after a miscarriage.
"I always advise women to wait until their blood test (serum beta-hCG) value goes down to zero before trying again," Levine says. "This could be as early as just a few weeks or even 1 month." But some doctors may recommend waiting longer if a woman had a procedure called a suction D&C (dilation and curettage) after the miscarriage.
Myth No. 5: Miscarriages can't ever be prevented.
While most of the causes are out of your control, one is not.
"Smoking is the No. 1 preventable cause of miscarriage," Levine says. "Smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy loss -- even if it's the father who smokes."
For your best shot, quit smoking before trying to conceive.
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