- What is a miscarriage?
- What causes a miscarriage?
- What are the symptoms of a miscarriage?
- How can doctors tell if I've had a miscarriage?
- How do doctors treat a miscarriage?
- How can I prevent a miscarriage?
- How can I feel better after a miscarriage?
Miscarriage is when you lose your baby before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most miscarriages happen in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Bleeding and cramping are common signs of miscarriage
If you were pregnant and didn't know it yet, you can have a miscarriage and think it was just your period
To tell if you’ve had a miscarriage, doctors will check your cervix (the lower part of your uterus)
Doctors will also do an ultrasound (moving pictures of the insides of your uterus, also called your womb)
Many women who’ve had one miscarriage get pregnant again and deliver healthy babies
However, your chances of miscarriage go up each time: the more miscarriages you have, the more likely you are to have another one
If you’ve had several miscarriages, you may want to see a doctor before you get pregnant again
Doctors can try to make your next pregnancy more successful
Doctors don't always know what causes you to miscarry. Miscarriage is not caused by a sudden emotional shock, such as getting bad news. Also, minor injuries like slipping and falling do not cause miscarriage. However, major injuries like a bad car crash can cause miscarriage.
Often, doctors never figure out the cause of miscarriage at this stage. But sometimes they can pinpoint one of these as the cause:
A miscarriage early in pregnancy may just seem like a normal period. If you didn't know you were pregnant, you probably wouldn't think you were having a miscarriage.
Other times there are obvious symptoms:
At first you may have only a small amount of bleeding, similar to having your period. As the miscarriage continues, the bleeding usually gets worse. The blood may be bright or dark red. Sometimes you'll also pass blood clots. You'll have cramps that may get worse as your uterus (womb) pushes out bits and pieces of the pregnancy.
Call your doctor right away if you have any bleeding during your pregnancy. Not all bleeding during pregnancy means you're having a miscarriage. About half the time, the pregnancy continues just fine. However, your doctor needs to check to see whether you had a miscarriage or not. If you pass large clots or bits of tissue, put them in a container or wrap them in a towel for the doctor to look at.
If you've had bleeding or cramping during the first 20 weeks of your pregnancy, doctors will:
Do a pelvic exam: They look inside your vagina (birth canal) to check your cervix (the lower part of your uterus where your baby comes out)—if your cervix is open, a miscarriage is likely
Do an ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to create moving pictures of the inside of your uterus—it can show if your baby is still alive
Do blood tests: Doctors check your levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG
If the fetus and the placenta (the organ that feeds your unborn baby) are no longer in your body, you won't need any treatment. The bleeding and cramps will stop soon.
If bits and pieces of the pregnancy are still in your body, doctors might:
If doctors need to remove pieces of your pregnancy from your uterus, they'll give you medicine to make you sleepy. The procedure you have depends on how far along the pregnancy is:
In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy: Remove pieces using a suction instrument put into your uterus through your vagina
Between 12 and 20 weeks of pregnancy: Remove pieces using surgical instruments put into your uterus through your vagina
If close to 20 weeks of pregnancy: You may be given a medicine to start labor to pass the rest of the pregnancy
It's normal to feel grief, anger, and guilt after a miscarriage.
Consider talking with another person if you feel sad and are grieving the loss of your baby
Remind yourself that it’s very unlikely you did something to cause your miscarriage
If you’re worried about having another miscarriage, talk to a doctor who can discuss possible tests
Remember that many women who miscarry get pregnant again and give birth to healthy babies