A miscarriage is a term used to describe the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy, usually during the first 20 weeks, although most occur in the first trimester. Miscarriage is extremely common, and studies estimate that as many as 20% of pregnancies may end this way. It’s not always known why some women miscarry and others don’t, but unsurprisingly, any miscarriage can be extremely distressing and upsetting for a mother-to-be, their partner, and even wider family. Unfortunately, once you have had one miscarriage your risk of experiencing another may increase and around 1 in 100 women experience recurrent miscarriage (3 or more miscarriages in a row).
The good news is that studies show that the risk of miscarriage decreases as pregnancy progresses. Seeing a heartbeat at 8 weeks gestation increases the chance of a continuing pregnancy to 98%, and at 10 weeks, this increases to 99.4%.
A miscarriage can occur suddenly or over a number of weeks. Here are the 5 symptoms most commonly associated with a miscarriage as well as what you should do if you think you are having one.
The most common sign of miscarriage is vaginal bleeding. How this appears can vary, from light spotting or brownish discharge to bright red blood that is heavier.
The severity of this lower abdominal pain can vary, from period-like cramps to severe pain and labor-like contractions as your body seeks to eject the pregnancy.
You may even notice some clots in the blood that you pass. If you have had recurring miscarriages, your midwife or doctor may recommend that you try and keep any clots/tissue that you pass. This may be tested to see if it is possible to determine a cause for the miscarriage.
It’s normal to have more vaginal discharge than normal during pregnancy, but any very watery discharge, or leaking clear or pinkish fluid, could be a sign of miscarriage.
If you had previously been experiencing pregnancy symptoms, such as tender breasts, feeling/being sick or extreme fatigue, these may go away.
It’s important to be aware that many women experience spotting/light bleeding during the first trimester, and this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are having a miscarriage. Implantation bleeding can occur when the egg implants itself into the lining of the uterus as part of the process. And a small number of women continue to have periods right through their pregnancy.
If you are concerned that you may be having a miscarriage, we recommend that you speak to your midwife or doctor to get advice and support. They will ask you some questions about the symptoms that you are experiencing and will be able to advise you on what you can expect to happen next, as well as give you practical information such as using pads to manage the bleeding, avoiding tampons, and directing you to external support groups.
If you would like more information about the symptoms of miscarriage, or if you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our discreet and friendly team at Partners in Obstetrics & Women's Health in New Lenox, Illinois at (815) 240-0554.