A miscarriage, or spontaneous abortion, is the loss of a fetus before 20 weeks of pregnancy. It typically happens in the first trimester of pregnancy (first 3 months).
At Newton-Wellesley OB/GYN, our team of physicians has extensive experience in providing support or treatment for miscarriage. If you are having trouble carrying a pregnancy to term, our doctors can check for some known causes of miscarriage.
Symptoms of Miscarriage in Early Pregnancy
The symptoms of miscarriage in the first trimester can vary but may include
- Vaginal Discharge
- Abdominal Cramping
- Heavy Spotting
- Vaginal Bleeding
- Pain in the Belly or Lower Back
- Fluid or Tissue Discharge from the Vagina
If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away. Your doctor will want to perform tests to confirm whether or not you are having a miscarriage.
Causes of Miscarriage
Several things can cause a miscarriage, including
- The fetus isn’t developing normally due to
- Poor Diet or Malnutrition
- Drug and Alcohol Use
- Advanced Maternal Age
- Issues with Hormones
- Abnormally Shaped Uterus
- Problems with the Cervix
- Genetic or Chromosome Abnormalities
- Severe High Blood Pressure
- Certain Medications
Risk Factors for Miscarriage
Certain risk factors increase your chances of having a miscarriage. These include:
- Drug Use
- Alcohol Abuse
- Genetic or Chromosome Abnormalities
- Two or More Consecutive Miscarriages
- Chronic Disease (e.g., PCOS, Diabetes, Kidney Disease)
- Problems with the Uterus or Cervix
- Being Older (over the age of 35)
Types of Miscarriage
Your doctor will diagnose your condition based on your symptoms and the stage of your pregnancy to determine type of miscarriage.
Complete Miscarriage. All pregnancy tissue is expelled from your body.
Incomplete Miscarriage. Your body has expelled only some of the pregnancy tissue.
Missed Miscarriage. Your embryo dies, you are unaware of it, and you don’t deliver it.
Threatened Miscarriage. Bleeding and cramps point to a possible upcoming miscarriage.
Treatment for a miscarriage depends on the type of miscarriage you have had. If you had a complete miscarriage where there is no pregnancy tissue left in your body, no treatment is required.
If you had a partial miscarriage, your doctor might recommend one of the following:
Expectant Management. You wait 7 to 14 days after a miscarriage for the tissue to pass out naturally.
Medical Management. You take medications to help you pass the rest of the remaining tissue.
Surgical Management. You have any remaining tissue surgically removed (Dilatation and Curettage or D & C).
Recovery From a Miscarriage
Miscarriage Treatment at Newton-Wellesley OB/GYN
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Most women experience vaginal spotting or bleeding or have cramping and pain in the abdomen when a miscarriage is starting. However, since these are also typical symptoms that many women experience in the first trimester, you should call your doctor right away to confirm whether you are having a miscarriage.
The time period for a miscarriage often varies from woman to woman and is dependent on several other factors such as:
- How far along you were in the pregnancy.
- Whether you were carrying multiples.
- How long it takes your body to expel the fetal tissue and placenta.
While some women may have light bleeding and cramping, others may bleed for several days. Typically, the physical process of a miscarriage may take up to 2 weeks.
Recent NICHD research suggests that trying to conceive shortly after a pregnancy loss without complications may actually increase the chances of pregnancy. According to the NIH study, couples who attempt to conceive within 3 months after losing an early pregnancy, defined as less than 20 weeks gestation, have the same chances, if not greater, of achieving a live birth than those who wait for 3 months or more.
The study further suggests that couples wait to conceive again after they are both physically and emotionally ready to do so.
If you have had a previous miscarriage, work with your health care provider to determine the reason for your miscarriage, if possible. This may involve going through various tests to detect what may have caused the previous miscarriage(s). Such tests may include
- Blood Tests to Detect Hormone Imbalances
- Chromosome Tests
- Consultation With Maternal-Fetal Medicine
- Pelvic and Uterine Exams
- Pelvic Ultrasound
Then work with your doctor to plan a future pregnancy. You can decrease your chance of a miscarriage with regular prenatal care throughout your pregnancy and follow these other tips:
- Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Take prenatal vitamins.
- Avoid alcohol, smoking, and drugs while pregnant.
- Limit your caffeine to no more than 200 milligrams daily.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid being around people who are sick.