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What are the signs of a miscarriage?

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There are some signs that will indicate that a miscarriage is pending. Some of the symptoms may not necessarily mean that you are miscarrying and some are definite signs of a miscarriage. If you come across any of the following problems consult your doctor.
Possible signs of a miscarriage:
Bleeding: Light bleeding or ‘spotting’ is common in early pregnancy so if this does occur don’t panic just yet. Many women who have light bleeding in the first trimester go on to have perfectly healthy babies however if there is some light bleeding it is probably best to consult your doctor. Bleeding that is stopping and starting is a sign that your hormone levels are falling and so they will need to be monitored. If your bleeding is heavy and soaks a pad after a few hours, is bright red or there is clotting then go to a hospital immediately as it is likely that a miscarriage has begun.
  • Cramping: There is likely to be a lot of cramping through out your pregnancy so it is not a definite indicator that you are miscarrying. However if there is bleeding with the cramping or the cramping is severe (you may have to breathe in huffs as though you are in labour) then you could be miscarrying so go to a hospital immediately.
  • Loss of pregnancy symptoms: While this could be a sign of a miscarriage, it is usually something that occurs after other symptoms have been presented. It rarely the first sign of a miscarriage. It is common to loose pregnancy symptoms such as tender breasts, nausea and tiredness for a few days and after weeks 10 to 14 they should disappear altogether.
  • A pregnancy test that is positive, then negative: This is a sign of a ectopic pregnancy, where a fertilized egg has implanted outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. If you have taken a pregnancy test that is positive, and then another one a few days later that is negative you need to visit your doctor immediately. If you have taken both tests in the same day, you might be on the edge of a positive result and the urine late in the day may not have been concentrated enough. To be sure, take another test the next morning.
Definite signs of a miscarriage:
  • Strong Cramps: If your cramps are causing you to double over or breathe as though you were in labour, then you are likely beginning to miscarry. This will usually be accompanied by bleeding.
  • Heavy Bleeding: If the bleeding soaks a pad in a few hours then go straight to a hospital as you are probably miscarrying.
  • Passage of tissue: The passage of tissue that resembles large think blood clots or pinkish/grayish material, sometimes in long strings then you are having a miscarriage. There may not be any cramping with this symptom.
What to do:
If any of these symptoms occur during normal doctor working hours then visit your regular doctor first. They will give you instructions on what to do next.
If these symptoms occur at night or during the weekend then ring your doctor’s after-hours number. Do not worry about bothering them as this is part of an OB’s job. If you cannot get through to your doctor and you are worried then go to the hospital. While some hospitals are equipped to deal with miscarriages, others might not be and may not give you the care that you would like. They may be limited in what they can do for you and their treatment of you may seem a bit insensitive. It is still worth going, however, if they draw blood for an hCG test or give you a sonogram.
Some women decide to wait until they can see their regular OB. They rather that the news of a miscarriage comes from someone they are familiar with. If you are in early stages of pregnancy then there isn’t much harm in waiting as there is not much that can be done. However, if you are past the 12 week mark then do not wait. 
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The information contained on MummyPages is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis or treatment by a qualified medical professional. If in doubt, always consult your doctor.