Miscarriage Symptoms, Preventions, Causes

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Andrea Fernando

By Andrea Fernando

Miscarriage is an involuntary, spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before 22 weeks. It happens in up to one third of pregnancies, and is usually seen in the first 12 weeks.

How do you know if you've had a miscarriage?

The key symptom of miscarriage is vaginal bleeding. If you are pregnant and experience any type of vaginal bleeding, it is important that the cause is investigated, so see your doctor as soon as possible. Other than bleeding, pain in your lower belly or back is a common sign.

Am I at risk of having a miscarriage?

The biggest risk factor for spontaneous miscarriage is being older than 45. Having a structural abnormality in your uterus, or having a bleeding disorder can also increase your risk. A history of previous miscarriages, particularly more than three recurrent miscarriages carries with it a high risk of another occurring. Lifestyle factors such as high caffeine and alcohol intake, smoking and obesity also put pregnant women at an increased risk.

What causes a miscarriage?

Miscarriage occurs because the pregnancy is not developing properly. This can be due to fetal abnormalities, maternal factors or environmental exposures. When the body detects an abnormality, it expels the embryo or fetus and the uterine lining out of the vagina, causing bleeding and cramps.

If a genetic dysfunction or mutation is recognized in the developing fetus, a miscarriage can occur as a defense mechanism or because the fetus cannot properly develop. Similarly, if the egg did not properly implant into the uterine lining the natural reaction is to expel the egg, which causes vaginal bleeding and discharge.

Other causes of miscarriage can be due to maternal factors. Illness or infection that causes dysfunction to any part of the reproductive tract (ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus or vagina) can cause miscarriage.

Medical conditions such as fibroids, uncontrolled diabetes and thyroid abnormalities are also linked to increased likelihood of miscarriage. Other known causes include toxins like radiation and chemotherapy. This is why it is not recommended for pregnant women to undergo X-Rays or CT.

New research has shown that some herbal medicines like aloe vera, bitter lemon and celery have properties that can cause spontaneous miscarriage. As discussed above, lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol intake and excess caffeine commonly cause miscarriages.

Symptoms and Causes of a Miscarriage

How can you prevent a miscarriage?

Changes to your lifestyle such as quitting smoking and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake are crucial in maintaining a healthy pregnancy and reducing miscarriage risk. Maintaining low intensity exercise and a healthy diet throughout the pregnancy also aid this. Despite making these changes, miscarriages can still occur in healthy pregnancies, but it is important to maintain your lifestyle throughout to ensure your baby's health. See preparing your body for pregnancy.

How do you treat a miscarriage?

Once a miscarriage has begun, nothing can be done to stop it. Medical staff will aim to avoid heavy bleeding and remove any tissue that has not passed, but the miscarriage cannot be reversed.

Expectant treatment involves simply waiting for the tissue to pass naturally. This can take up to a few weeks and involves spotting or bleeding and period like pain. It can help with grieving, but can become worrying if excessive bleeding or a recognizable embryo is seen. This waiting time can take a huge psychological toll and can be very difficult on women and their partners. If you decide to take this treatment method, it is advised you speak with a counselor or psychologist.

Medication can be given to speed up the process of miscarriage so that passing of the tissue occurs within six hours, but does have some side effects. 'D&C' (dilation and curette) involves minor surgery. This is usually done in severe pain, heavy bleeding or if a large amount of tissue remains. D&C involves going through the vagina and manually removing the tissue from the uterus. This procedure usually takes less than 10 minutes but may take up to four hours in hospital due to waiting and recovery time. Learn more about the D&C procedure.

What do you do after a miscarriage?

  1. Look after your mental health.
  2. Use sanitary pads and not tampons.
  3. See your doctor for a check up 4-6 weeks after.
  4. If you have any pain, you can take painkillers such as Tylenol (paracetamol) to help.
  5. Different people grieve differently and there is no right way to feel after a miscarriage. The miscarriage may not affect you at all, or it may be very difficult to work through. The most important thing to do is to surround yourself with people that will help you to get through whatever it is you're feeling. Your partner may have emotions very different to yours or may want to try for a second pregnancy right away. Allow yourself to adjust to the loss before attempting anything you're not comfortable with.

If you feel anxious, depressed or need to talk to someone, you can see your doctor, a psychologist or contact a community support group. See the links below for online and telephone support in your area.

International www.babyloss.com

USA www.thehelpline.org/ - 1 866 942 6466

AUSTRALIA www.sands.org.au/index.php/find-support - 1300 072 637

UK www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/ - 0194 200 799

Got a question or want to comment? Please leave a comment below.

New Join the Discussion!

  1. Samantha Oct 23, 2016
    Hi, I think I may have had a miscarriage at about 6 weeks about 3 weeks ago but I'm not sure. See, the pain was terrible on the main morning it was as though I was getting shooting pains through my abdomen. It was so bad I passed out (not much of a tolerance for pain). Anyway, I had to stop using tampons because I thought maybe there was an issue there. But I only spotted for a few days then suddenly all hell broke loose. Then for a few days after old and new blood. Now if I was pregnant, I'd be about 11 weeks. I don't feel any symptoms anymore. I didn't want to be pregnant, but I'm not sure what the hell is going on and urgh don't even know why I'm so obsessed with wanting to know. Pregnancy test says negative.
    1. Christina (OC Team): You would have more than just spotting from a miscarriage at 6 weeks. I'd suggest going to the doctor to get a better feel for what's going on. If you were pregnant, you'll need to get checked out. - (Oct 24, 2016)
  2. Sandra Nov 07, 2016
    My short cycles are are 28 days, while long ones are 31 days. Please help me calculate.
    1. Christina (OC Team): If you log your cycle dates into your account, you'll get a prediction of your fertile window. It can be difficult to predict with irregular cycles, but this will give you an estimate of when to start expecting ovulation and your next period. Good luck! - (Nov 07, 2016)
  3. Lilian Nov 09, 2016
    I had a miscarriage in my 12th week on August 17th 2016 and have waited till Sept 2016 before trying to conceive again but my problem now is that am no longer seeing any cervical mucus during my ovulation for the past two months now, even though my ovulation kits shows that am ovulating. I have not conceived for the last two months now. Please, can the absence of cervical mucus flow prevent one from conceiving, even when the ovulation kits detected that I am ovulating? What are the likely causes and what I can do to increase my chances of conceiving this month as I desperately need a second child soonest?
    1. Christina (OC Team): I'm sorry to hear of your loss. Cervical mucus does play an important role in conception. There's a section in this guide with tips on increasing low cervical mucus https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/cervix-cervical-mucus/ - (Nov 09, 2016)
  4. Christine Nov 12, 2016
    I had a miscarrige on February 27, 2016 at 6 weeks. I waited and tried again and got pregnant in October of 2016. I found out I was pregnant on October 14, 2016. I had another miscarrige on October 21, 2016. Is there something wrong with me? Doctors said everything looks normal, but I am so scared to try again with the same partner. We want to have a child. Why did I have 2 miscarriges back to back? Can I have more children at 33?
  5. Oluchi Nov 13, 2016
    I had a miscarriage in September 2015 and waited till December 2015 before trying to conceive, but no result yet. I noticed that OPKs stopped being positive since after the miscarriage. What could be the problem? Please help.
  6. Angel Nov 19, 2016
    How do I know if I had a miscarriage? I had blood today. I dont know if it's a miscarriage or just a period. Can a pregnancy test check if I'm pregnant even though had this blood. I'm 3 days suffering with severe headaches. I dont know why. I don't ever feel anything like this when I have my period.
    1. Christina (OC Team): If you got your period around when it was due, it could be your period or it could be what's referred to as a chemical pregnancy. If you want to know for sure, you should see your doctor. - (Nov 20, 2016)
  7. Obi Nov 28, 2016
    I had a miscarriage at 17 weeks on Nov 23rd. I had back pain and lower abdominal pain, so I am still taking treatment, but I don't know when I can start TTC. Also, my back still hurts. How can I stop this?
    1. Christina (OC Team): These are good questions for your doctor. - (Nov 28, 2016)
  8. Sara Dec 14, 2016
    Just a little confusion. My periods are usually normal.
  9. Meranda Dec 18, 2016
    I had a misscariage they called it a chemical pregnancy. I need more info on a chemical pregnancy. Was I actually pregnant? I had it in October of 2016. I had 2 periods in one month and I'm still trying to conceive! When is the best time to conceive? It's been 2 cycles.
  10. AMJ Jan 04, 2017
    Over the xmas holiday, I found out we were finally pregnant. The next week was my 30 birthday and I found out that I was having a miscarriage. That was the worst holiday and birthday ever. I bled for about a week. I'm wondering if that would also be considered my period for that month or am I going to have to wait another month to get back to normal. I was only a few weeks pregnant when the miscarriage happened.
    1. Christina (OC Team): I'm so sorry for your loss. You should count the miscarriage bleeding as a period. - (Jan 04, 2017)

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