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Last Updated: Oct 05, 2019

Miscarriage: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention

Why do miscarriages occur? What does a miscarriage look like? What are the different types of miscarriages? What are the early signs of a miscarriage? What causes a miscarriage? How to know if you had a miscarriage? What week is the highest risk of miscarriage? How is a miscarriage diagnosed? How long do you bleed after a miscarriage? How is miscarriage treated? What are the risk factors which can lead to a miscarriage? What food causes miscarriage? How to prevent miscarriage?

Why do miscarriages occur?

Miscarriage usually occurs when the fetus dies before the 20th week of pregnancy. In medical terminology, it is also called a spontaneous abortion. These are very common, according to a study, approximately 50% of pregnant women can experience a miscarriage.

The most common cause behind miscarriage is that the fetus does not develop normally because of certain problems in the chromosomes. Some other factors can be an abnormality of hormones level in mother i.e. thyroid hormone. It is important to consult your obstetrician if you experience such symptoms.

What does a miscarriage look like?

If a miscarriage is at an early stage, then the tissues are not visible from the naked eyes. It simply looks like heavy menstrual blood and maybe a few tiny clots in the discharge. If miscarriage takes after the period of 4-5 weeks, then there may be some small transparent gestational sac surrounded with rudimentary beginnings of the placenta.

What are the different types of miscarriages?

  • Threatened miscarriage: In this type of miscarriage, early pregnancy is accompanied by backache. Cervix remains closed thus allowing pregnancy to continue.
  • Incomplete or inevitable miscarriage: In this type of miscarriage, there is back or abdominal pain, along with bleeding. Hence, it is considered incomplete if the cervix is open.
  • Complete miscarriage: In this type of miscarriage, the embryo comes out of the uterus and empties it completely along with bleeding and pain.
  • Missed miscarriage: In this type of miscarriage, the embryo dies but without any symptom such as pain or bleeding
  • Recurrent miscarriage: If three or more miscarriages occur in the first trimester, it is recurrent miscarriage.

What are the early signs of a miscarriage?

The early signs of miscarriage are weight loss, white-pink mucus and bleeding (brown or bright red) without cramps.

  • Signs of miscarriage at 2 weeks: Faintness, nausea, severe period pain, breast tenderness, no feeling of being pregnant, heavy bleeding.
  • Signs of miscarriage at 4 weeks: This time the miscarriage is known as a chemical miscarriage. The signs are cramping, spotting and heavy bleeding.
  • Signs of miscarriage at 6 weeks: Miscarriage looks like the heavy menstrual discharge of blood and no tissues are visible there are only small clots.
  • Signs of miscarriage at 8 weeks: Symptoms keep on changing but the chances are of 12% for miscarriage.
  • Signs of miscarriage at 12 weeks: Symptoms keep on changing but the chances are of 0.6% for miscarriage.

What causes a miscarriage?

There are many causes of miscarriage like:

  • Placental problems: In this, the placenta develops abnormally. It leads to an interruption in blood supply from mother to baby.
  • Chromosome problems: The fetus is not able to receive a proper number of chromosomes causing incomplete development of the fetus.
  • Womb structure abnormalities: When the womb is not in proper shape or shaped abnormally along with fibroid development in the womb, it creates a risk to a developing fetus.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): There is hormonal imbalance in the body caused because the ovaries are too big.
  • Weak cervix: If the cervix muscles are weak, they open up very early during the time of pregnancy and results in miscarriage.
  • Lifestyle factors: Habits like smoking, drugs or alcohol can also be the cause of the problem.

How to know if you had a miscarriage?

Vaginal bleeding and strong period-type cramps are the early signs of the miscarriage and during this time the embryo does not develop completely.

What week is the highest risk of miscarriage?

0 to 6 weeks are at the highest weeks of risk considered for miscarriage. During this period, a lady can have a miscarriage without even knowing or realizing that she is pregnant. In miscarriage, age plays the role of a risk factor. If a woman has age between 35 to 39 then the risk is of 75% and if a woman is 40 or older than she is at 5 times higher risk.

How is a miscarriage diagnosed?

These are the test used for the diagnoses of miscarriage:

  • Blood tests: Blood tests are done to determine the levels of beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and progesterone, since both of these are associated with pregnancy.
  • Ultrasound scans: The heartbeat of a fetus is checked by placing a small probe in the vagina, also called transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Pelvic exam: This is done to determine if the cervix is thinned out or opened.

How long do you bleed after a miscarriage?

If miscarriage takes place during early pregnancy then bleeding and cramping is only experienced for few hours. However, it varies from one woman to another. The bleeding may last up to a week with heavy clots and stops within two weeks.

How is miscarriage treated?

The main aim of the treatment is to prevent bleeding and infection. At the time of earlier pregnancy, the body expels fetal tissues on its own and if it does not happen on its own, then dilation and curettage (D & C) are performed by the doctor. During this process of (D & C) cervix is opened by the doctor and a thin instrument is inserted into the uterus to remove tissues. After this medical procedure, a patient is prescribed medicines to control bleeding.

What are the risk factors which can lead to a miscarriage?

  • If a woman is over 35 years of age
  • If she has medical conditions such as thyroid problems or diabetes
  • If she had more than three miscarriages in the past
  • If she has a weak cervix. This is also known as incompetent cervix, in such cases, the woman’s cervix cannot hold a pregnancy

What food causes miscarriage?

The food that should be avoided are:

Raw meat, deli meat, fish with mercury, smoked seafood, raw eggs, soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk, caffeine, alcohol, unwashed vegetables, pineapple, crabs, sesame seeds, papaya, drumstick, herbs, peaches, processed meat, sprouted potatoes, raw sprouts, junk food

How to prevent miscarriage?

Most of the time, it is caused by genetic abnormalities in the fetus and there is no prevention. Although, it is not that all the miscarriages are caused by only genetic abnormalities but there can be other reasons as well. Therefore, mother's health must be taken care and healthy lifestyle must be adopted to prevent it.

These are the measures that can be adopted: Regular exercising, managing stress, eating a healthy and balanced diet, weight must be in limit, no smoking, avoiding alcohol or illicit drugs, taking up to 400 mg of folic acid every day, etc.

Popular Questions & Answers

My last period was 19 march (starting date) I tested positive but I wanted to abort what can I do. I have already one baby girl of five year age.

MD - Obstetrtics & Gynaecology, FCPS, DGO, Diploma of the Faculty of Family Planning (DFFP)
Gynaecologist, Mumbai
Drugs for termination of pregnancy can be taken only under the supervision of doctors licensed for termination, so meet gynecologist.

Hii I am 24 ys female. I am one month pregnant I have use the mifepristone tablet once and I got some blood clots while urinating. Now there is no bleeding. It was only when I went to pee. So shall I use misoprostol tblts now?

MD - Obstetrtics & Gynaecology, FCPS, DGO, Diploma of the Faculty of Family Planning (DFFP)
Gynaecologist, Mumbai
Proper dose of termination must be taken. Drugs for termination of pregnancy can be taken only under the supervision of doctors licensed for termination, so meet gynecologist. After drugs, for termination of pregnancy, it is sonography 15 days lat...

Hii I am 24 ys female. I am one month pregnant I have use the mifepristone tablet once and I got some blood clots while urinating. So shall I use misoprostol also now?

MD - Obstetrtics & Gynaecology, FCPS, DGO, Diploma of the Faculty of Family Planning (DFFP)
Gynaecologist, Mumbai
Drugs for termination of pregnancy can be taken only under the supervision of doctors licensed for termination, so meet gynecologist.(proper dose must be taken) after drugs, for termination of pregnancy, it is sonography 15 days later which decide...

I have multiple fibroids. 5.5 cm subserosa noted fundus of uterus left side, 4.5 cm submucosa fibroid posterior wall body of uterus, 3 cm fibroid noted right side posterior wall lower body. Is hysterectomy the only option?

MD - Obstetrtics & Gynaecology, FMAS, DMAS, Fellowship in Assisted Reproductive technology, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
Gynaecologist, Burhanpur
Hello, you can opt for progesterone only pills to stop your menses and stopping menses would take you to nearing menopause and would also halt the fibroid growth.

Hi, I am 7 weeks pregnant n I had infection so I was advised to apply clingen forte n after 5th dose I started to slightly bleed, can I continue the remaining dose? Am I having abortion?

MBBS, MD
Obstetrician, Lucknow
Since you have slight bleeding, don't use any vaginal pessary any more and get a usg done to confirm fetal viability.

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