Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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Having a miscarriage
"I was constantly terrified of losing the pregnancy, especially since I'd had two miscarriages."
— Zoe Cohen, Oakland, Calif., mother of twins Benjamin and Isaac, 9 months
Even women who've never suffered a pregnancy loss worry about the possibility. Unfortunately, about one in five pregnancies do end in miscarriage. But the vast majority of the time, these losses are caused by chromosomal "errors" at the time of conception. What's more, many occur so early the woman doesn't even realize she's pregnant.
And just as you can't prevent a miscarriage, neither is there much you can do—apart from such extreme situations as heavy drug or alcohol use or suffering a violent blow to your abdomen—to cause one. "An average car accident or fall won't trigger a miscarriage," says Henry Lerner, M.D., an OB-GYN at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Mass., and a clinical instructor in obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School. "Neither will exercise, sex or physical labor," adds Lerner, who is the author of Miscarriage: Why It Happens and How Best to Reduce Your Risks (Perseus).
Reality check: "Once you're pregnant, your chances of having a successful pregnancy are very good: roughly 80 percent," says Lerner. "By about 10 weeks from conception, if we can see the baby's heartbeat by ultrasound, the risk of miscarriage drops to 1 percent to 2 percent."