Hi, Dr. Erica, thanks so much for being with us.
Dr. Erika Aragona:
Hi, I’m so very excited to be here. Again, thank you so much for having me today.
We’re always excited to spend some time with you. Dr. Erica Aragona is a dual board certified family medicine physician who focuses on preventative medicine and women’s health. And we have a question for you today. Can you explain what miscarriage is exactly? And what our bodies go through when this happens?
Dr. Erika Aragona:
Yeah, it’s such a tough question because it’s so emotionally fueled. So whenever I get this question in the office, I try to handle it with delicacy and empathy for the patient going through it, because it’s really, really hard for any woman who experiences miscarriage. And I want to put that out there for people listening today. So that when you’re going through this, if it happens to you, you have a doctor that you feel comfortable talking with and not judge, because so much of loss of pregnancy falls on to the woman and you feel so much guilt. And I hate that because it’s not what you’re doing. You didn’t do anything wrong. So before we jump into specifics, I want all of your listeners to know, they need to take that fault, and that shame and that burden and get rid of it indefinitely. From a doctor, I’m telling you, it’s not your fault. And that’s how we have to start this conversation.
It’s a safe space and miscarriage is awful. But you need to feel comfortable. And if you don’t have a doctor who’s making you feel that way, you need to find a new one.
Okay, so let’s talk about it. What is a loss of a pregnancy or miscarriage? So in general, when your body has an embryo, right, so egg and sperm come together form the very, very start of a fetus for a baby, we will see an implant and then hopefully start to develop into a really healthy baby. But unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. And in the very early stages, a lot of the times, that can be because of a genetic abnormality or an anomaly is what we call it medicine.
So chromosomes might not be the healthy set that your baby needs. And oftentimes, that will cause that embryo to not continue to develop. So it will naturally terminate, therefore, you would have a miscarriage, there’s a lot of other factors. And we can go into detail more about that at a later time where you can have certain bleeding disorders or certain genetic problems yourself where the pregnancy might be more at risk and can cause that. But again, that is not something that the woman caused herself, right? So you can’t be stressed out, or do something that way where it’s your fault. Or if you took one prenatal vitamin and someone wrote online, that caused it, nothing like that happens, and we need to be clear about that and get rid of the fear.
So what happens to your body when a miscarriage takes place? I think this is a really important question I get a lot of the time. Do you always have to see a doctor? And no, you don’t. In fact, a lot of women with early early pregnancies don’t even know they have miscarriage, you know. So they might just have a heavier than normal period because they were so early in the pregnancy, they didn’t really notice they thought maybe I’m a few days late a week or two. And then they have a heavier than normal period. And as long as they pass all of the content, basically a heavier period, and they don’t have other symptoms. Their regular checkups with their doctor, that’s totally fine. They don’t have to go in.
If the pregnancy is further along, though. Or maybe it’s still early, but you have really painful cramping. Your uterus is basically saying we need to get rid of what’s in there, right? So how does that happen? It cramps, it squeezes everything out. And that’s also how we have normal period cramps. Well, the problem is not all the time, everything leaves your body. So if there’s content in there that doesn’t come out, and you’re still having pain or bloating, or prolonged bleeding, you would need to see a physician to have them help assist you to make sure that you’re healthy. And then the really difficult one is later along in stages of further pregnancy, where a physician would have to help assist the patient for a further developed pregnancy loss. And that’s a really difficult and really emotionally difficult one, where oftentimes patients do need to be in the hospital and have monitoring with a physician. There’s a lot of stages in between all of those.
And then finally, what we didn’t talk about and this is super, super, super important is something called an ectopic pregnancy. Are you both familiar with that one? You’re both nodding.
Actually, I experienced one.
Dr. Erika Aragona:
Oh, you did? What was your experience like? Are you comfortable talking about that?
Absolutely. And I’ll go briefly into it now and for sure we will go into it in much more detail in a further podcast episode on Mama Needs A Moment. But it was mine and my husband’s first pregnancy and rather than implanting in the uterus, the baby implanted in the fallopian tube. In order for to save my life, they forced miscarriage. And that was a really intense experience of going through the injection as well as the bleeding that took place afterwards. And then as well as the pain. It was pretty uncomfortable for several months, to be honest.
Dr. Erika Aragona:
Gosh, I’m really sorry to hear that. That’s such a huge thing in someone’s life, I don’t have to tell you that you lived it. So thank you for sharing that. Because I think what’s so important, again, is not a lot of women do, and they feel alone. And when we talk about this, and women can learn and hear from you, and your graciously upfront story of it sucked, it was painful for months, then they will feel alone when they experience it, too. You know, and I think that’s so important. So thank you for sharing that genuinely. I love when people are honest about their experiences. So you break down those barriers, so other people don’t feel scared to share their stories to at topics can be and are life threatening. By the way, if they go untreated, the baby will continue to develop. And it can cause the mom to actually be in severe distress or even death. So this is a non viable pregnancy. So no matter what happens, it’s so hard to take that pregnancy test and get a positive, and then find out on the ultrasound the baby’s not where it needs to be. And again, it’s not our fault. And seeking medical care for this is the only way you can take care of yourself. And that is so important. So I want to include that even though it’s not when we think about a typical miscarriage. Why that is so important, and to include that in pregnancy loss. So thank you for sharing your story.
Well, we’re so excited that you were here and that you normalized it because that’s important too, is to let the moms know that it’s not their fault. I think that is huge. It takes such a great amount of pressure off of the moms. So thank you tons!
Dr. Erika Aragona: Pregnancy is hard every step of the way. Trying to conceive is so stressful. Believe me, I’ve never been more stressed out. Medical boards were nothing compared to taking a pregnancy test every month and having one line not two and crying and making it seem like it was me. So with pregnancy loss, we have to take the same approach. We have to make it okay. We have to make it a safe space where women are accepted and feel comfortable to tell their stories and not feel alone.
We appreciate your time. Thank you so much!
Dr. Erika Aragona:
Yeah, my pleasure.
Dr. Erika Aragona is a dual board-certified family medicine physician with a focus on preventive medicine and women’s health. In addition to a full time practice, she serves as adjunct faculty at Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine where she teaches women’s health. She holds an additional degree of a Bachelor of Arts in English, and has used her experience in medical and creative writing to publish a book, A Certain Innocence, as well as author several pieces in national journals including Medscape, The DO, KevinMD and Alpha Phi International. She serves as an expert physician consultant with appearances on national television and social media and writes articles and produces videos for multiple health and wellness companies. Her passion is making medicine cheerful, and with her website, dr-erika.com, she highlights female entrepreneurs as well as discusses positive aspects of medicine.
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