What is a miscarriage, and why does it happen?
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 20 weeks. The loss of a pregnancy can be very hard to accept and you may wonder why it happened or blame yourself. But a miscarriage is no one’s fault, and you can’t prevent it.
Most happen by chance and are usually due to one-time problems with the genes that prevent the fetus from developing normally. Miscarriage is not caused by bending, stretching, carrying heavy weights, having sex, working long hours or feeling emotionally upset. 1 in 4 of all pregnancies ends in miscarriage.
What are the signs of a miscarriage?
Spotting (light vaginal bleeding) in early pregnancy is not always a sign of miscarriage and may happen when the fertilized egg implants itself in the uterus. In about half the cases, the pregnancy will continue normally.
When a miscarriage happens, your uterus contracts to push out the pregnancy tissue. You may have severe cramps and pain, heavy bleeding that may include clots, or pass the placenta (may look like blood clots or liver). These symptoms usually lessen within a few days and disappear within seven days. To relieve the pain, your doctor may advise you to take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin with codeine. For the bleeding, use pads, not tampons.
If you have any heavy bleeding (soaking two pads an hour for more than 2 hours or passing a clot the size of a walnut, severe abdominal pain, fever or chills, or a bad odour from your vagina), you should always contact your maternity care provider immediately or go to the Emergency Room if after hours. They may send you for an ultrasound or other tests and will help monitor the situation.
After a miscarriage, you may feel a broad range of emotions that can be strong and long lasting. It may take longer to recover from these effects than from the physical effects. Support from your doctor, maternity care provider, therapist, or support group can help.
Signs of Early Pregnancy Loss Handout
More Information on Miscarriages from HealthLinkBC
Miscarriage and Its Management Handout
In the days, weeks, and months ahead you may feel overwhelmed by feelings of shock, numbness, sadness and disbelief. It is important for you to have support and information to help you through this painful time as you try to make sense of what has happened. BC Women’s Hospital has many great resources here.