7 Signs of a Miscarriage

woman holding stomachIf you're pregnant, few spectres are as haunting as the possibility of a miscarriage. "Somewhere between one in three and one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage," says Sarah Wagner, MD, an ob/gyn at Loyola University Health System. But if every twinge in your belly sends you into a panic, it may help to know a few facts about this highly misunderstood problem.


The vast majority of miscarriages occur in the first trimester. In most cases, it's unavoidable -- due to genetic anomalies in the developing embryo -- so you shouldn't put the blame on yourself. The tricky part: "Most of the signs of a miscarriage can also be present in normal pregnancy," according to Dr. Wagner. "Also, many pregnancies that miscarry do not have any signs." That means, that while it helps to be aware of the signs of miscarriage, they aren't conclusive. Here are a few symptoms to keep an eye out for, how to differentiate them from a normal pregnancy, and when to call your doctor:

  1. Bleeding is usually the first sign of a miscarriage. It's also present with normal pregnancy, but with a miscarriage it's well beyond spotting. If you're bleeding heavily and soaking a large sanitary pad every hour, head directly to ER.
  2. Severe cramps or pain. This can also crop up with a normal pregnancy, so if the cramping or pain is similar in intensity to your period, there's probably no reason to worry. But if the cramping is stronger or there's sharp pain, this is a reason to call your doctor. 
  3. Passage of blood clots or tissue. This can occur with a normal pregnancy, but watch out for white or beige tissue, which is seen specifically with miscarriage (often accompanied by a foul odor).
  4. Fever, chills, or dizziness. Since a miscarriage can cause infections, a fever may accompany many of the above symptoms, and are a sign something could be wrong.
  5. Decreased movement of the baby. While most miscarriages happen in the first trimester, they can happen in the third, and one primary way to detect this is when your baby stops moving. Of course, even healthy babies don't wiggle around non-stop, so try doing a "kick count" -- eat something then note how often your baby moves. Babies should move ten times or more within a three-hour span.

    More from The Stir: When Baby Stops Moving in the Womb: Is It Normal?

  6. Symptoms of pregnancy disappear. Typically, when morning sickness dissipates and your breasts stop feeling so sore, it's because pregnancy hormones naturally drop during the second trimester. But in some cases, it could be a sign of miscarriage, especially if your other symptoms suddenly disappear too, like your exhaustion or aversion to certain foods.
  7. You just don't "feel pregnant" anymore. Intuition alone should not be ignored. If you suddenly feel like you've lost your baby, consult your doctor. Even if he determines everything is fine, it'll be worth having that peace of mind.


Image © Michele Constantini/PhotoAlto/Corbis

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