How to Know If You Have a Miscarriage
Miscarriage is also known as a spontaneous abortion. It occurs when a fetus dies within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. On average, 80% of miscarriages occur within the trimester or the first 3 months.
Even with the advanced medical care available today, spontaneous abortions remain unfortunately common. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 10 – 25% of pregnancies end with a miscarriage.
What Happens During a Miscarriage
Every case is unique but some commonalities are present. Ultimately, in every miscarriage, the cervix opens and part or all of the fetus is expelled from the body. At this point, the pregnancy is over.
Sometimes, fetal tissues remain in the body after a miscarriage. In these cases, it is important to seek medical attention. Follow-up treatment can remove the rest of the tissue. If the tissue is not removed, it can cause complications like massive infections or death.
Causes of Pregnancy Miscarriage
It can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause of a miscarriage. Too often, in the absence of information, many grieving parents blame themselves. In reality, they probably had nothing to do with it. Daily activities such as working, exercising – and even sex – are unlikely to cause a miscarriage under normal circumstances.
Some of the most common causes of miscarriage are:
- Major illness or serious injury to the mother
- Chronic illnesses, such as severe diabetes or thyroid disorders
- Drug/alcohol abuse and the use of illegal substances
- A history of miscarriages. Women who have had 2 spontaneous abortions are more likely to have another.
- Fetal genetic abnormalities. These happen when a fertilized egg doesn’t have the proper number of chromosomes. This is a rare condition. No one can cause or prevent this from happening.
- Uterus abnormalities, which can cause miscarriages later on in the pregnancy
Types of Miscarriages
There are different types of miscarriages. A woman’s body can sometimes resolve a miscarriage on its own. However, oftentimes, immediate medical treatment is necessary. Without it, the woman risks massive bleeding, infection (sepsis), and even death.
This is the only type of miscarriage that a fetus can survive. Women experience vaginal bleeding and mild cramping, but the cervix remains
closed. Sometimes the cervix stays closed and the pregnancy progresses as normal. Other times, the cervix will open. This latter incident is known as an inevitable miscarriage.
The cervix opens and bleeding increases. There is no chance of pregnancy continuing.
All the fetal and pregnancy tissues are expelled from the uterus. After a doctor confirms all the tissue is gone, additional medical treatment is usually not required.
after miscarriage care
Some pregnancy tissue remains inside the uterus. Medical attention is often required to remove the rest of the tissue.
A miscarriage with none of the usual symptoms. It is usually caught on an ultrasound when the fetus has no heartbeat or can’t be found at all. In these cases, the tissue may be expelled on its own. However, most doctors recommend women seek medical treatment to assist in the process.
Signs of Miscarriage – What to Look Out for
A lot of women have anxieties about the health of their pregnancy. It’s understandable – everyone wants the best for their child. If you are ever worried and find yourself asking “Am I having a miscarriage?”, check for these symptoms:
- Vaginal bleeding, which can be light or heavy. Miscarriage bleeding can look like:
- Light pink or a white-pink mucus from the vagina
- Bright red
- Clumps or clots
- Back pain, which can be mild or severe
- Stomach cramps (aka contractions), which feel similar but much stronger than menstrual cramps
- Weight loss
- Not “feeling pregnant” anymore
These are the most common signs of an early miscarriage, but there are reasons other besides a spontaneous abortion that a woman might experience these symptoms. They don’t always mean a miscarriage is happening. However, you should seek immediate medical attention if you’re having any miscarriage symptoms.
What to Do If You Are Experience Miscarriage Symptoms
If you are experiencing signs of a miscarriage, call your OBGYN right away. Depending on your symptoms and medical history, they will either tell you to come to the office or head straight to the emergency room. They will probably do an ultrasound to assess your condition.
The main goal of treatment during a miscarriage is to prevent the mother from hemorrhaging and developing an infection from remaining fetal tissue. If any tissue remains in the uterus, the doctor usually performs a procedure called dilation and curettage, or D&C.
During a D&C procedure, the cervix is dilated and a suction tube is passed through it. A gentle suction will remove any remaining fetal tissues. After the procedure, many women are put on medications to control any bleeding.
Healing After A Miscarriage
Healing after a miscarriage is both a physical and emotional process. Both are equally important. For a few weeks after the procedure, women should monitor themselves for signs of infection. These include fever, chills, and feeling sick. As well, they should look out for increases in bleeding.
The recovery process usually lasts a few weeks to a month. However, pregnancy hormones can remain in your blood for up to 2 months.
Most women start having periods again after 4 to 6 weeks. After periods return, most women are physically able to conceive again. For many women, the first period after a miscarriage can be emotionally difficult. They are still mourning the loss of their child and might not be ready to try again.
Emotional healing after a miscarriage often takes longer than the physical recovery. There are many support groups and specialized counselors who can help with this process. Focal groups are available for women, couples, and families. Many couples find it useful to go to counseling together, in addition to having individual appointments.
Each person experiences and deals with grief in their own way. The important thing is to seek help when you need it. There is nothing harder than the loss of a child, but healing and recovery are possible. If you are interested, we have written a guide on what to do after a miscarriage, and we hope it may prove useful to you and others who need some advice on the matter.
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