Miscarriage and Stillbirth

Miscarriage Signs, Symptoms and How to Stop the Fear of Trying Again

Miscarrying isn’t easy. It can be painful and heartbreaking.

It can leave you feeling guilty, angry, anxious and alone and leave your partner feeling lost about what to do, what to say and how to best support you.

Whether you are experiencing the early signs of miscarriage or have already lost a pregnancy, we hope this information on miscarriage helps clear up a few things.

Types of miscarriage

Miscarriage is defined as a loss of pregnancy within the first 20 weeks of gestation. Most miscarriages happen within the first 12 weeks, often before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. There are a number of different medical terms used to classify miscarriages which may help you understand what is happening.

  • Complete miscarriage – The tissue and remains from the pregnancy have been expelled from your body. No medical action is needed.
  • Incomplete miscarriage – The tissue and remains from the pregnancy are still inside your uterus. You may need a D&C or oral medication to help your body expel it.
  • Chemical pregnancy – A miscarriage that occurs very early in pregnancy which involves conception but not implantation.
  • Blighted ovum – A miscarriage which involves conception, implantation and a formation of a sac but no embryo.
  • Ectopic pregnancy – A miscarriage which occurs when the embryo implants outside the uterus. This can be very dangerous and requires medical attention.
  • Molar pregnancy – A miscarriage in which the placenta doesn’t form correctly and the baby is not able to survive.
  • Missed miscarriage – A miscarriage in which the baby has died but the mother doesn’t experience any signs of miscarriage. Missed miscarriages are usually picked up on an ultrasound.
  • Recurrent miscarriage More than three miscarriages in a row. If your pregnancies continue to end in miscarriage, speak to your doctor to see if there is an underlying reason for it.
  • Threatened miscarriage – When your body shows signs of miscarrying, including bleeding and cramping, but the cervix remains closed.

Miscarriage signs and symptoms of early pregnancy loss 

Miscarriage signs vary depending on the type of miscarriage or early pregnancy loss. These miscarriage signs include:

  • Heavy bleeding and passing of tissue
  • Pain in the stomach, pelvic area or lower back
  • A loss of typical early pregnancy symptoms (swollen, tender breasts, morning sickness).
  • Possible nausea, vomiting and fatigue

Many woman will have light bleeding or spotting during early pregnancy. This is normal and not necessarily a miscarriage symptom. However, if you’re also experiencing cramping or pain, then get it checked out.

What do I do?

If you think you may be having a miscarriage, contact your doctor right away. They can perform a blood test and/or ultrasound to check. If your hcG levels are not rising, then it is a sign that you will miscarry or have miscarried. If baby’s heart isn’t beating on the ultrasound, it can also indicate that a miscarriage is inevitable.

signs of miscarriage

No one can prepare you for these outcomes. Knowing your baby has stopped growing, even if it was early on, is devastating. Although it’s hard, try to think about the positives – you can successfully conceive, you can fall pregnant again, you will have another chance.

In most cases, you will be advised to miscarry at home where you can be close to a bathroom (except during incomplete miscarriages, see below). You may want to take some painkillers and wear heavy pads. It’s a painful experience both physically and mentally. It’s okay to cry, to want to be alone or to think life sucks. At this point, it does. But you are strong and you will get through it.

Why did I miscarry?

This is something most mums who miscarry ask themselves. Was it because I used bleach to clean the bathroom? Perhaps it happened because I had a glass of wine before I knew I was pregnant? Or was it because I didn’t eat enough veggies?

In most instances, a miscarriage occurs because there is a problem with the chromosomes of the foetus. No mother has control over this.

Although very rare, miscarriages can sometimes happen because of an infection or health condition such as a hyperthyroid, incomplete cervix or uncontrolled diabetes. Certain environmental and behaviour factors can also increase the risk of miscarriage such as exposure to radiation, smoking and illegal drug use. Some prescription medication is also linked to higher levels of miscarriage. Your doctor will be able to give you more information on which medications are safe during pregnancy.

Pregnancy after miscarriage

Knowing the signs of miscarriage can help prepare you, if it does happen. But it’s so important to remember that just because you miscarry once doesn’t mean the next pregnancy will end this way. Speak to your doctor about when you can start trying again.

If you do fall pregnant again, you may find it hard to relax and enjoy the pregnancy. You may feel anxious every time you feel a slight cramp or go to the toilet. You may assume the worst will happen again.

Try not to. I know it’s hard, but there is no point in stressing about something you cannot control. Although you know the miscarriage symptoms, try not to look for them. Focus on every day tasks, take it one day at a time and let your body do the rest.

The most important things to remember about miscarriage

It is not your fault – Miscarriage occurs for a number of different reasons. What you did, ate, said or even thought most likely has nothing to do with why the pregnancy wasn’t viable.

It’s also not your partner’s fault – He might be feeling just as upset as you are. Or, he might be feeling so overwhelmed and has no idea how to handle what has happened. Either way, open up to him. Let him in. And, husbands, listen and watch for your wife’s signs. We may not say anything, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need support.

Miscarriage happens to one in four – Yes. One in four Australian women experience at least one miscarriage. And these are only the women who knew they were pregnant. Many more women experience an early miscarriage without even knowing it because they didn’t realise they were pregnant. It is a completely normal part of starting a family, but one we tend to keep out of the public eye.

You can try again – You might be able to try again the next month. Or you want need to wait a little longer. Either way, a miscarriage doesn’t mean the end of your pregnancy road.

You’re allowed to grieve for this loss – You’re allowed to cry, scream, hate everyone, eat all the ice cream in the freezer. It’s normal. But it’s also normal to not feel much at all – to be ready to put the miscarriage behind you and move forward. Everyone deals with a miscarriage differently.

Support is out there – You may not want to talk about it. But, if you do, there are support lines out there. Visit Pregnancy Loss Australia, Sids and Kids or Sands, all of which can help.

For an honest account of the heartbreak of miscarriage, have a read of the secret truth of pregnancy loss. 

Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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