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Signs & Symptoms of Having a Miscarriage

Alison Wood |18, June 2013


It's in the back of every pregnant woman's mind. It's a thought many refuse to ponder on. But, unfortunately it becomes a reality to many moms every year—miscarriage. The majority of pregnancies end up with a happy-ever-after story. But some end up in heart-wrenching grief. Sometimes pregnant women do not even know they are miscarrying until the doctor confirms it. Being educated about this matter will help you prepare for the possibility of this trial as well as close friends and family that may be expecting a little one as well.

Vaginal bleeding.
Thought intermittent spotting during the first few months of pregnancy is completely normal for some, bright red bleeding similar to a menstrual cycle is not normal. Contact your physician immediately if you develop bright red bleeding.

Menstrual-like cramps are also a danger sign, especially if accompanied by cramping.

Lower back pain.
Constant, dull pain in your lower back can be a danger sign as well.

What Can You Do?

If you experience any of the above symptoms, you should contact your practitioner immediately. Most likely, he will advise you to come into the doctor's office that day to verify the problem. Then, a sonogram will be performed to view the baby to ensure the baby is still alive.

There are cases, though they are not typical, where women experience bright red bleeding during their first trimester and there is no threatened miscarriage. Instead, they are experiencing something similar to a blood vessel in your eye bursting, but it happens between the sac and uterus. The fancy medical term for this issue is subchorionic hemorrhage. How is it different from a threatening miscarriage? Typically women experience little or no cramping with this type of bleeding. What are the doctor's orders for this condition? Take it a little bit easier on the chores, outside duties and exercise.

Taking a trip to your physician is best when you experience any bleeding so he or she can rule out a miscarriage and if you are not miscarrying can offer you peace of mind as well. If you are indeed miscarrying, here is what happens next.
If no heartbeat or movement is detected on the Sonogram your doctor will inform you that the baby has indeed died.

What Will The Doctor Do?

Depending on how far you are into pregnancy here are your options:

Miscarry naturally at home.
This is only recommended for pregnancies that lose the baby at an early gestational age; around 6-10 weeks. Be aware that there is major loss of blood as well as immense pain. Even in early miscarriage, you can request to be in a hospital when you are miscarrying in order to monitor blood loss.

Undergo a D and C or D and E.
If you miscarry during the first trimester, then you will most likely have a D and C performed (dilation and curettage). The procedure involves your doctor dilating your cervix and then removes the baby with a curette instrument or a tool similar to a small vacuum called a suction curettage. If you miscarry during the second trimester, a D and E (dilation and evacuation) is typically performed by removing all pregnancy tissue through vacuum aspiration and this process requires more surgical tools and time.

Induce labor.
For later miscarriages, induction of labor is performed. This will cause you to actually go through somewhat milder labor and deliver as you normally would. The labor is typically shorter and less painful.
Sadly enough many women leave a doctor's office with the knowledge that they have miscarried and no further information about what actually happens during a miscarriage. However, we are here to help and give you the exact details you need to know!

What Does Having a Miscarriage Feel Like?

First of all, during a miscarriage there is a lot of pain. The pain is much stronger than a menstrual cycle and you may want to consider taking pain medication. You are already suffering emotionally, which makes it harder to deal with the immense pain. Also, there is a huge amount of blood. Large clots and blood, as well as the baby and sac are all passed during a miscarriage. This is why many doctors recommend miscarrying in a hospital to your blood loss can be monitored as well as pain medication can be administered.

After the miscarriage is complete, you still need to take time for recovery. You will be weak from the blood loss as well as emotionally drained from the loss of your little one. Take time off work and other activities to completely heal physically and emotionally.

You should avoid driving the first few days after a miscarriage and avoid lifting heavy objects. For the first two weeks, refrain from sexual intercourse and the use of tampons. Only use maxi pads until your bleeding stops.

If your bleeding becomes worse, you develop a fever or flu-like symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

Find Support

If you are having, or have had a miscarriage, you are not alone! Be sure to find support, whether it be from your family, friends, or a support group. You might have a relative or friend who has gone through what you have gone through. Reach out to them, and seek support.

Find a support group. Ask your doctor for a list of support groups in your area. It can be a tremendous help to be around others who have also gone through a miscarriage.

Don't try to do too much. You need to heal, physically and emotionally. Don't ever be afraid to ask your family and friends for help.

Sources: American Pregnancy, Murkoff, Heidi. What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition. Workman Publishing Company; 4th editionWorkman Publishing Company; 4th edition, 2008. Print.

Alison Wood is a stay-at-home mom of six and freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys raising her six children and desires to share her experiences to help other mothers.

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