Concerns about miscarriages in women resurface, as the
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day holds today,
BUKOLA ADEBAYO writes
The joy of every mother is to carry her pregnancy to term.
This, however, is not often the case. A new maternal and
child health survey shows that at least two of every 10
Nigerian women lose their pregnancy at one stage or the
other before full term.
Beyond Nigerian women, the survey also states that across
the world, one of every five pregnancies ends in
miscarriage. Pregnancy loss, often referred to as abortion or
miscarriage, can be painful and devastating for the woman
and her family.
Indeed, the story of Feyikemi Ajala who, at present is six
months pregnant, tells it all. Ajala says she has yet to get
over the trauma of her multiple miscarriages, which took
place in 2012. According to her, both pregnancies ended in
miscarriage at the sixth week.
She says. “When I had the first miscarriage, I thought
nothing of it till it happened again. The second time I
conceived, I quickly registered at a hospital. However, there
was a day that I became weak, so I took a bottle of soft
drinks as well as some pain relief drugs and I slept off. By
the time I woke up three hours later, I realised that I was
bleeding. In fact, that was how I lost the pregnancy again.”
Doctors, according to Ajala, told her that the soft drink she
took contained quinine, which reacted with the pain relief
drugs, resulting in the miscarriage.
Ajala is not the only woman who has suffered miscarriage
arising from this circumstance. Though doctors say that
there are unavoidable miscarriage cases, more than 80 per
cent of miscarriages are preventable, especially if women
were aware of the causative factors.
A Consultant Gynaecologist, Bayo Windapo, who defines
miscarriage as the loss of a baby during the first 23 weeks of
pregnancy, notes that it can occur either due to the poor
health status of the mother or that of the foetus.
The medic adds that self-medication, and the use of native
medicines, such as herbal concoctions in the first three
months of pregnancy are factors that predispose women to
miscarriages in Nigeria.
The physician notes that the first trimester (three months) is
the most delicate months of any pregnancy; hence, pregnant
women should refrain from taking medicines or herbal
preparations not recommended by a doctor.
“In fact, a major reason why abortion is common in this part
of the world is because of the use of herbal concoctions or
medicines known as Agbo. These native medicines are toxic
and have no scientific dosage. So, if a pregnant woman
abuses the medication, it may lead to an abortion. You do
not know what has gone into it, so do not take it.
“Once a woman is diagnosed to be pregnant, she is not
supposed to take any drug, no matter what happens, unless
it is prescribed to her by a doctor. Drug reaction and
interaction in the first trimester can lead to an abortion. No
woman should practise self-medication,” he says.
Windapo also notes that women who engage in rigorous
sexual activities in the first weeks of pregnancy can suffer
He states, “We call it trauma. Sex is in such category for a
woman in her first trimester. In fact, sexual intercourse is
risky in the first six weeks unless her partner is going to be
“When you probe into reasons why a patient lost a
pregnancy, especially in the early stages these days, you are
likely to discover that it has to do with sexual activity. We are
not saying that they should abstain from it. Funnily enough,
it is even at this stage that women want it the most. But they
must both be careful and gentle such that it does not stress
Another gynaecologist, Dr. Olarenwaju Ekunjimi, while
highlighting other factors that lead to pregnancy loss, states
that women who are hypertensive, diabetic and those that
fall ill frequently are likely to suffer miscarriages.
Ekunjimi explains that the accompanying medical conditions
arising from these illnesses could upset the foetus and lead
to an abortion.
“Some medical conditions make it difficult for women to
successfully carry pregnancies. If a woman is diabetic or has
hypertension, she may not be healthy enough; hence, she
will often have miscarriages.
“If she is falling ill and having malaria frequently, such that
she will be needing drugs, it may be difficult for her to carry
the pregnancy through because of the side effect of the
drugs,” Ekunjimi notes.
Besides, experts also say that there are cases of
miscarriages that occur due to some biological and
unexplainable factors. For instance, they say that a woman
may lose her pregnancy due to genetic damage.
Windapo explains, “An abortion can occur if damage has
occurred to the chromosomes. This may also lead to having
a baby with Down Syndrome. If the woman is carrying a
baby that has a condition that does not support life itself,
the body has a way of rejecting such pregnancies.”
To reduce the risk and incidence of miscarriages, medics
also recommend that pregnant women should register for
antenatal as soon as they become pregnant.
“As soon as it is confirmed that you are pregnant, especially
if it is your first pregnancy, please register in a hospital that
has a doctor, not just nurses. Do not go to a maternity
home, which usually do not have doctors or specialists. Go
to a hospital where you can see the doctor regularly,” they