Though miscarriages are quite common, yet it can be one of the most traumatic experiences of a woman’s life. The excitement and happiness of pregnancy gives way to sheer disappointment if the doctor tells you that the fetal heartbeat has stopped unexpectedly. It is important for you to know and understand that the miscarriage is not because of something you did or did not do, sometimes nature takes care of things if something is not quite right with your baby. The experience will undoubtedly be draining both emotionally any physically especially, when you will not be able to understand as to why the fetal heartbeat has stopped, and everything else seems fine.
A baby’ heart may stop beating suddenly and it is more common than one believes. It accounts for many of the early miscarriages.
This article will throw some light on the issue which will help you understand the situation.
What Is Intrauterine Fetal Demise?
On the first ultrasound, the fetus will exhibit heartbeat but on subsequent ultrasound there is no more heartbeat seen, resulting in ‘miscarriage’. This can even happen around the 10-week point. This is called an intrauterine fetal demise. Most of the times the reason is not known unless there is a history of miscarriages. The baby passes away inside the uterus but the cervix remains closed, and thus you will see no bleeding. This type of miscarriage is also known as ‘missed miscarriage’ or ‘silent miscarriage’.
How Can I Know If The Baby’s Heart Has Stopped Beating?
The only sign other than not receiving any heart beat during an ultrasound can be the disappearance of pregnancy symptoms like nausea, sore breasts, fatigue etc. and eventually spotting can occur which indicates the fetal demise.
There will be no significant symptoms like abdominal pain and cramps in relation to the miscarriage that happens when the baby’s heart stops beating. Sometimes, even weeks after the fetus demise no signs of discharge occur. This is because the cervix remains closed. Spotting may occur after some time as the placenta and the fetus begin to deteriorate inside.
Why Does The Fetal Heartbeat Stop?
Very often, the reason behind this miscarriage is never discovered except if there is a recurrence of similar incidents. Most common reasons are:
- Chromosomal abnormality in the fetus: Around 3 in each 5 early miscarriages are thought to be associated with fetal anomaly, which implies that something is not right with the infant’s chromosomes. Most chromosomal abnormalities are due to either abnormal egg or abnormal sperm or their abnormal combination or are because of an issue occurred at the time that the zygote underwent the division procedure. Anyway, the body will self-abort the baby if there is a chromosome issue or issue with the development of fetus
- Blood clot disorder: The blood-coagulating disorder of the mother (thrombophilia), can make blood clots develop in the tiny and most delicate blood vessels in the placenta or in the umbilical cord. These coagulations can hinder blood flow and can cause the heart of the fetus to stop as the fetus is deprived of blood and oxygen
- Twisting of cord: Twisting of cord around the neck or limbs can cut off the blood supply and oxygen supply to the fetus. When this occurs during the first trimester, it can result in stopping the heartbeat of the fetus
- Progesterone hormone deficiency: Progesterone is required to carry the pregnancy successfully. Low levels of progesterone during early weeks of pregnancy can stop the growth and development of the fetus, making the baby’s heart to stop beating
- Infections of mother: It is important to make sure (if possible) that the mother is healthy and devoid of any infection. This is because some infections that may not affect the mother much can have a harmful effect on the fetus during the early weeks of pregnancy. This can lead to the stopping of the fetus heartbeat
- Unhealthy lifestyle: Smoking, drinking alcohol, usage of drugs by the mother can result in intrauterine fetal demise
What Can Be Done If Fetal Heartbeat Stops?
When the fetal heartbeat stops the doctor will:
- Wait for natural abortion, provided the pregnancy is not exceeding twelve .
- D and C: Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a procedure done to remove endometrium from the uterus to make sure all the debris from the previously failed pregnancy is eliminated and the uterine lining is cleared to conceive successfully next time.
- Fetus removed through ERPC (Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception): Which is the removal of the baby/ fetus from the uterus through a suction procedure and dilation of the cervix.
It is important to know why the heartbeat of the fetus has stopped. Why did the miscarriage occur? It may give you some peace of mind when you understand that what happened has nothing to do with you and nature has its own method for dealing with things when there is something not right with the unborn baby. Anyway, with proper medical guidance and a positive attitude, next time you will definitely finish your nine-month course fruitfully.