A pregnancy miscarriage occurs in one of four pregnancies, most commonly in the first trimester.
Some of these women know they’re pregnant, and some don’t. Many haven’t announced their pregnancy, and when it’s gone inexplicably and suddenly, they don’t share their experience.
But, they still mourn. They still feel the loss of the little life that was beginning to grow inside of them. They feel the loss of their joy in the emptiness of their womb. Then, when they fall pregnant again, they’re happy, sure, but this time, they’re also scared. They worry that this pregnancy could end again in loss and grief.
If this is you, here are four warning signs to watch out for. But keep in mind that while these symptoms may indicate a miscarriage, they could also mean nothing. Some miscarriages occur with no symptoms at all, and some women experience these symptoms and go on to have a healthy baby.
Bleeding is common in the early stages of pregnancy and often both mum and bub are fine. But, any bleeding should be checked by a medical professional as it could indicate something is amiss. Bleeding is one of the most common signs of miscarriage. This bleeding can be light, or heavy like a period, it can be bright red, brown or come in clots.
Unfortunately, most miscarriages can’t be prevented once they’ve started. But, you still need to confirm that a miscarriage has occurred and that no complications arise.
2. Cramping or Back Pain
Women often feel cramps as well as aches in their lower back in the early stages of pregnancy as the uterus starts to expand and adjust to its new resident. These pains usually cause mild discomfort and are a normal part of pregnancy. But, severe cramps or cramps accompanied by continuous or increasing bleeding can be a sign that you’re miscarrying. If you’re concerned about pain, speak to your health professional.
Occasionally, cramping can be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. If you experience cramping accompanied by any of the following symptoms, head straight to the emergency department:
- Severe abdominal pain
- A swollen or bloated abdomen
- Pain in the shoulders
- Feeling faint
3. Passing Pink Mucous or Tissue
If you’re passing mucous or tissue (which may look like blood clots), you may be experiencing a miscarriage. In most cases, a woman’s body will naturally remove a pregnancy that isn’t viable, meaning the woman will pass the pregnancy tissues and in some cases will see the embryo or foetus.
An incomplete miscarriage occurs when some of the pregnancy tissue remains in the uterus and this can lead to infection. When this occurs, an operation, called a dilatation and curettage (D&C), may be required to remove the remaining tissue.
4. Loss of Pregnancy Symptoms
One day, you’re struggling to hold down plain toast, you’re so exhausted you don’t have the energy to shower, and you feel like someone has used your boobs as punching bags. A few days later, you feel on top of the world. Should you be worried? Perhaps. A change in hormone levels can cause the loss of pregnancy symptoms and may indicate a miscarriage. If you are concerned, ask your medical professional to check that everything is a-okay.
Remember, every pregnancy is different. Some women don’t realise they’re pregnant in the first few months because they have few symptoms while others will suffer through weeks of nausea and tiredness.
Miscarriage without Symptoms
Sometimes, miscarriage occurs without any warning signs, which is called a missed miscarriage. This type of miscarriage is often diagnosed at a routine scan when the baby’s heartbeat can’t be found.
What to Expect After a Miscarriage
Once a miscarriage has occurred, bleeding can continue for up to three weeks. Normally, the pregnancy passes naturally and the woman doesn’t require any treatment. It’s a good idea to rest, as many women feel physically drained and tired. Emotionally, a miscarriage can be a shock and it is normal to grieve. Feelings of sadness, anger, loss and even guilt are often experienced.
For most couples, the cause of the miscarriage, whether it was a genetic abnormality, problems with implantation, or a host of other possible causes, will be unknown. The question of why might be haunting. It’s important to remember that miscarriages are rarely caused by anything the parents did or didn’t do.
If you are struggling to cope with a miscarriage, it’s important to seek help. Speak to your doctor or a counsellor. Sands is a not-for-profit organisation which supports parents who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a newborn. Sands offers a 24-hour national support line (1300 072 637), as well as live online support via its website (this service is available on Monday and Thursday from 7:30pm – 9:30pm).
If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention. We have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice – click here.