What are the signs of a miscarriage?

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Q:

How do I know if I am having a miscarriage? What are the symptoms?

A:

If you have found your way to this question, there is a chance that you are concerned about potentially experiencing a miscarriage. Here we provide some basic information to help you understand what the symptoms of a miscarriage can potentially include.

To start, let's clarify what a miscarriage is. A miscarriage is when the loss of a pregnancy occurs spontaneously before 24 weeks of gestation. In most cases, the cause of miscarriage is a genetic flaw where a pregnancy is simply not viable. Miscarriages are common within the first 3 months of pregnancy and occur in nearly 1/3 of all pregnancies.

The most common presenting symptoms of a miscarriage include:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pregnancy symptoms start to disappear
  • Increase in vaginal discharge
  • Lower back pain

Miscarriage and Vaginal Bleeding

Bleeding is the most common symptom of miscarriage. At first, it may appear as light spotting but with time, the bleeding is likely to get heavy and may include the passage of clots.

Bleeding in the first trimester does not always mean you are having a miscarriage. Bleeding can also occur in a normal pregnancy. Substantial bleeding can even occur, specifically in the case of a subchorionic hemorrhage. However, if vaginal bleeding is associated with abdominal cramps, it is more likely that you are experiencing a miscarriage.

Miscarriage and Abdominal Pain

The lower abdominal pain you may experience during a miscarriage may be similar to what you experience during menstruation. However, the abdominal pain in miscarriage is generally more intense than what is experienced with normal period pain.

Decrease in Pregnancy Symptoms

Once you become pregnant, you may start to experience pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and breast tenderness. These symptoms are due to the changes in the hormonal levels in your body during pregnancy. If you are experiencing a miscarriage, it is possible for these pregnancy symptoms to start to fade.

Other less common signs and symptoms of miscarriage include:

  • Vaginal discharge, while not a typical symptom of miscarriage, provides cause for concern if it is blood-streaked.
  • Lower back pain, like abdominal pain, becomes a significant symptom if it is associated with vaginal bleeding. You are more likely to develop a lower back pain if you have a retroverted uterus, meaning that the uterus is tipped backwards facing towards the rectum and spine. Rather than experiencing lower abdominal pain with vaginal bleeding, it is possible to experience lower back pain.

These signs and symptoms do not always mean that you are having a miscarriage. So don’t panic, but you should consult your healthcare provider if you experience any of the above symptoms. An ultrasound scan can check to see if there is threat to your pregnancy.

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