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How couples can find hope after pregnancy loss

Oct. 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

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(Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for DIFF)

Oct. 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

According to Dr. Salena Zanotti, of Cleveland Clinic, pregnancy loss is actually more common than most people think.

She believes it can be helpful for couples who have suffered a miscarriage to talk about it with others who have had similar experiences.

"Most people who have had a miscarriage, or even two, will go on to have successful families," Zanotti said. "It's important for people to realize that when it happens to you, it's hard to look toward the future, so it's nice to talk to people who have been able to have children successfully after a loss." 

Zanotti said studies have shown that as many as one-third of pregnancies result in a miscarriage -- however, she said the numbers can be misleading.

Because pregnancy testing has become more sophisticated, women know they're pregnant much sooner nowadays, which means we know about more miscarriages than we ever did before.

Zanotti said the effects of suffering a miscarriage are physical and emotional -- for both partners.

She said people often ask if there was something they could have done differently to prevent a loss, but many times, early pregnancy loss is caused by a genetic abnormality that cannot be changed.

"This isn't something that they caused, it's not preventable, and it's not likely to recur," Zanotti said. "I want them to have hope that they will have successful pregnancies, but the most important thing is to be as healthy as you can be."

Zanotti reminds couples that smoking and drug use can cause pregnancy complications, so these are lifestyle changes that need to be controlled before getting pregnant. Likewise, health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure should be well-managed before getting pregnant.

After a miscarriage, many couples also wonder when it's safe to try to get pregnant again.

For losses that occur early in a pregnancy, Zanotti said it's typically safe to try again very soon, but it's important to make sure everyone is ready.

"The important thing for couples to understand is to wait until they're emotionally ready," she said. "It's something for a couple to discuss together. A man grieves as much as a woman does when they have a loss, and that's important to realize."