What is a Miscarriage?
A miscarriage is defined as the end of a pregnancy within the first three months, before 20 weeks gestation. It occurs before the fetus is mature enough to survive outside the uterus. Only 1 percent of miscarriages take place after this period, and it is likely that most miscarriages occur before a woman misses her menstrual period or is even aware of the pregnancy. As such, 15 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage and this percent would be even higher if one could count all of the miscarriages from women who are unaware that they are even pregnant and just think they are having a heavier than normal period.
Knowing what miscarriage risk signs and symptoms to look for within the first three months of pregnancy can help you determine whether or not you have a higher chance of having a miscarriage.
Signs and Symptoms
Some signs of a miscarriage are identical to normal pregnancy symptoms. Experiencing spotting and light bleeding in early pregnancy is relatively common and in most cases of pregnancy spotting, women go on to have successful pregnancies. Even experiencing heavier bleeding does not necessarily result in miscarriage. However, if you are experiencing any worrisome signs, it is best to seek medical advice from an obstetric health care provider.
The following are potential miscarriage symptoms:
- vaginal spotting or bleeding
- bleeding that progresses from light to heavy
- pain, cramps, or discomfort in the abdomen or lower back
- clot-like fluid or tissue passing through the vagina
- fever, weakness or vomiting
Seeking Medical Attention
Experiencing some of the symptoms of miscarriage does not necessarily confirm a miscarriage. Other complications such as an ectopic pregnancy or preterm labour may be the cause of symptoms and could be dangerous for both mother and baby. Learn more about the dangers of ectopic pregnancies and about what to do if you are experiencing mild to severe pain.
A health care provider will look for signs of a miscarriage during a pelvic exam. Such signs include the thinning of the cervix, increased cervical dilation, and signs of ruptured membranes. If threatening signs are found, your doctor may advise you to avoid certain types of exercise and sexual intercourse. In more serious cases, complete bed rest is prescribed in order to prevent miscarriage.
Symptoms After a Miscarriage
Spotting and mild discomfort are symptoms commonly experienced after a miscarriage. Heavy bleeding, chills, fever, or pain can be signs of an infection and should be treated by a health professional. Any further vaginal bleeding should also be carefully monitored. Never neglect to seek medical help for abnormal bleeding.
If a miscarriage has taken place, it is crucial to visit a medical professional to ensure that any remaining tissue that did not naturally exit the body (as is the case of a missed miscarriage) is removed by medication or surgery.
A woman usually resumes her regular menstrual cycle within weeks after treatment. Having a miscarriage does not necessarily indicate a fertility problem, and it is estimated that 87% of women who have had a miscarriage go on to have successful pregnancies. It is advised, however, that women wait one full menstrual cycle before attempting another pregnancy after miscarriage. However, if you have experienced more than two miscarriages then you might want to consult a fertility specialist as there may be something wrong that is preventing your body from carrying a pregnancy to term.