Miscarriage, also called early pregnancy loss, is quite common during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Between 15 and 20 percent of women experience a miscarriage, especially during the first seven weeks of pregnancy. And most of the time, it’s not your fault, say doctors at the Mayo Clinic, who explain that most miscarriages occur because there are problems with the baby’s genes, not those inherited from you or the child’s father. Statistics presented from the National Institutes of Health indicate that up to 50 percent of fertilized eggs are spontaneously aborted before a woman is aware that she’s pregnant. Signs of a miscarriage may be almost impossible for you to detect if you didn’t know you were expecting. However, Mayo Clinic presents some general guidelines if you are concerned about the health of your developing child.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), bleeding is the most common sign you’re having a miscarriage. However, many women who experience bleeding or spotting during the early stages of pregnancy have successful full-term pregnancies. In some cases, heavy bleeding isn’t a sign of miscarriage. The ACOG points out that women who smoke are more likely to notice bleeding during early pregnancy.
Along with bleeding, you may notice cramping in your lower abdomen or an ache in your lower back. Bleeding may continue or become heavier. You may also experience what feels like menstrual cramping, says the AOCG.
Some women who experience early pregnancy loss develop an infection in the uterus, known as a septic miscarriage. You may have a fever, accompanied by chills and full body ache. You may also notice a thick, foul-smelling discharge from the vagina.
If you are beyond the 13-week marker, you may still look as though you’re pregnant, says the AOCD. You may also experience lactation, in which your breasts secrete milk.
What to Do
If you suspect that you may be in danger of miscarrying, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Contact your gynecologist or obstetrician if you experience even the lightest spotting. Be aware of other suspicious discharge, such as a painless gush or fluid or what appears to be vaginal tissue. The ACOG notes that your doctor may ask you to collect a sample in a clean container for examination. Your doctor will also want to inspect your cervix to make sure that it isn’t dilated. You can anticipate a wide range of emotions that occur post-miscarriage that linger past the stage of physical healing. The AOCG encourages you to speak with your doctor or a counselor so you’re better able to cope with grief.
- so sad… image by Alexandra Gnatush-Kostenko from Fotolia.com