An odd ache or some light spotting doesn't mean you're miscarrying. But during the nerve-wracking first half of pregnancy, it's normal to worry over every strange sensation. Just as miscarriages have a range of types and causes, they have a range of symptoms too. Call your doctor whenever you experience something concerning. That funny feeling could be nothing, but finding out for sure gives you peace of mind.
Miscarriage happens before the 20th week of pregnancy. The majority of known
miscarriages occur before the 13th week, and only between 1 and 5
percent happen between 13 and 19 weeks.
Most miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus.
Hormonal problems, chronic health issues and trauma can cause them too. Your
chance of having a miscarriage increases with your age. Lifestyle factors like
drug use, smoking and heavy caffeine intake also increase your risk, but in
most cases, women who miscarry did nothing to cause it to happen.
always possible to know what's normal and what's a possible or potential
miscarriage," says Ruth Bender-Atik, national director of the Miscarriage
Association in Yorkshire, in the north of England.
Complicating matters, Bender-Atik explains that some women never experience any
troubling symptoms. "Some miscarriages are diagnosed at a routine scan,
showing the baby died without any symptoms to alert the woman. This is called a
silent or delayed or missed miscarriage."
Other times, a woman can tell something is wrong. Noticeable signs of a
Abdominal pain that feels like very strong menstrual
Pain or pressure in your lower back
Unusual vaginal discharge
Brown or red vaginal bleeding
Calling the Doctor
doctor as soon as you experience any of the symptoms of miscarriage. She can
use a pelvic exam, blood tests and an ultrasound to determine whether you're
Sadly, there's little else your doctor can do for you if you are miscarrying.
"[A doctor] may be able to offer advice, pain relief, comfort and support—and all those can help," Bender-Atik says. "But she's unlikely to
be able to do anything to change the outcome." What your doctor can do is
help you decide what steps to take next.
Once your doctor
confirms a miscarriage, she'll talk to you about how to remove the fetal tissue
from your body. Your preferences, the type of miscarriage you had and how far
along you were may factor into your doctors recommendations for how that
If you weren't very far along, you may use what's called expectant
management. Basically, this means letting nature take its course. You'll expel any tissue
in the form of vaginal bleeding. It may take a few weeks for the process to
finish. You may also opt to take medication that speeds this process up
Surgical management means your doctor will remove the tissue directly from your
uterus. This is a minor surgical procedure done under local or general
anesthesia. It may be done when you're further along in your pregnancy, or if
tissue remains inside you after a period of bleeding.