What Does a Miscarriage Feel Like?

A miscarriage, medically known as a spontaneous abortion, is the loss of a baby before 20 weeks' gestation. But most people don't know is that miscarriage is a reasonably common event with 1-2 out of every 10 pregnancies becoming miscarriages. Miscarriage is most common in the early stages of pregnancy with 8 out of 10 miscarriages occurring within the first 3 months. 

What Does a Miscarriage Feel Like?

Here are 7 signs to tell you what a miscarriage feels like. If you have any of them while pregnant, don't panic but check for other signs and contact your doctor.

1. Bleeding

Around 20%-25% pregnant women experience bleeding and it can be perfectly normal with 50% going on to be healthy pregnancies. However, any bleeding should be assessed by a doctor, as it can indicate that you are about to miscarry. Other reasons for bleeding during pregnancy include implantation bleeding, ectopic pregnancy, problems with the baby's placenta and spotting after sex.

2. Cramp

Aches and cramps are common throughout pregnancy, which means the baby is growing and stretching the womb. However, severe cramps or cramping together with spotting or bleeding could indicate a miscarriage, and you should speak with your doctor right away.

3. Back Pain

Pain in the back or abdomen, which can feel like cramping or a mild ache, may be a sign of miscarriage. However, symptoms of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies can overlap. Severe pain, particularly on one side of the abdomen, could indicate ectopic pregnancy and requires immediate medical help.

4. Pressure in Pelvic Area

Women in early pregnancy often experience pressure in the pelvic area, and this doesn't necessarily mean you're having a miscarriage. However, pelvic pressure along with cramping or bleeding can be a sign that you are going to miscarry.

5. Clots in Blood

If you have heavy bleeding in pregnancy and the blood has clotted in some places, there is a strong chance you may be miscarrying. You may also see pink or grey-colored tissue, which should be checked by your doctor to see if it is fetal tissue.

6. Fading of Pregnant Signs

What does a miscarriage feel like? A very obvious sign is the fading of almost all pregnant signs. When you are experiencing morning sickness, you may be long for the day to end. However, if your nausea disappears, it can cause more concern. If there's also a decrease in other pregnancy symptoms, such as tender breasts, frequent urination and tiredness, visit your doctor to check for miscarriage. However, many of these symptoms do naturally fade in healthy pregnancy. In miscarriage, you may become aware of changes of your overall feeling, as you're no longer producing pregnancy hormones.

7. Contradictory Pregnancy Test

Sometimes women take a second pregnancy test, particularly if they fear they've had a miscarriage. If you have a negative reading on a pregnancy test after a positive one, you'll need to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

How to Confirm a Miscarriage

Hospitals can test for miscarriage as well as whether you've had a complete miscarriage where all pregnancy tissues have been passed or an incomplete/delayed miscarriage where some tissues remain in the womb.

  • Ultrasound Scans examine the baby's development and check for a heartbeat, usually via transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Tummy Scan. Alternatively, the ultrasound scan can be performed through your tummy, but this is less accurate.
  • Blood Tests measure hormone levels, including progesterone and beta-human chorionic gonadotropin.

Scans and hormone tests may not immediately confirm miscarriage, so doctors may recommend another ultrasound or pregnancy test within two weeks.

What Can I Do If I Think I'm Experiencing Miscarriage?

Since you have known "What does a miscarriage feel like", you should know what to do if you think you're having a miscarriage. Here are the methods you can take in such a case:

  • Telephone your doctor or nearest hospital and describe what's happening. Remember that miscarriages are hard to be prevented at this stage.
  • Let your partner, friend or family member to stay with you and drive you to hospital or doctor's office if you need it.
  • If you are on your own and the symptoms have happened suddenly, call for an ambulance. Don't drive yourself to the hospital.
  • Use sanitary towels or pads to soak up any blood. Record how many pads you are using and how much blood there is on each pad. If you have very heavy bleeding, lie down.
  • Use a bucket or bowl to collect every bit of blood or tissue that you pass. So the doctor can examine or test the tissue to see what happened. If there is a small fetus, you can later give him or her a burial, but the fetus may be too small to find.
  • Make sure you have an overnight bag prepared in case you need to stay at the hospital.
  • If your doctor needs to remove any tissue from your uterus (a procedure known as dilation and curettage) and you need an anesthetic, you'll have to have an empty stomach. Discuss this with your doctor because you need to know when to start fast.

What Happens After a Miscarriage?

Your body will usually finish the miscarriage naturally and you won't need any more treatment. You may be asked to take a pregnancy test to confirm that the pregnancy is over. Any bleeding will probably decrease after 7-10 days, and finish completely after 3 weeks. You will need plenty of rest at home with painkillers and a hot water bottle to relieve any aches. However, the most important thing is that someone should be there with you to provide care and comfort at this difficult time.

You may be offered a follow-up appointment around two weeks after the miscarriage, depending on how far the pregnancy had progressed and whether you still have any symptoms. This is to see whether your body is recovering from losing the pregnancy.

If you are still bleeding after two weeks, you may need further treatment because it could be incomplete miscarriage, meaning there is still pregnancy tissue in the uterus, and this will need to be removed.

Emotional Recovery from Miscarriage

Miscarriage can bring out many different emotions – you may feel angry, sad, shocked or numb. However, the miscarriage, for whatever reason it happened, was not your fault and you had no mean to prevent it. However, you may wish to take steps to remember your baby and get yourself together:

  • After late miscarriage, you may be able to hold your baby, or take photographs for a memento. You may also remember your baby by a scan picture from early in the pregnancy.
  • There is no formal registration for babies who died before 24 weeks. However, certain hospitals provide certificates to let you remember your baby.
  • It's essential to talk about how you feel with your partner, family and friends. Besides, there are many miscarriage charities and support groups, where you can meet others with similar experiences.

Can You Prevent a Miscarriage from Happening?

With the knowledge of "What does a miscarriage feel like", can I prevent is from happening or can I reverse this process? Miscarriages usually happen because there is something that has gone wrong with the pregnancy, and they cannot normally be prevented. However, in certain situations, for example when there is an issue with the woman's cervix, doctors can perform surgery to reduce the risk.

When Can I Try to Get Pregnant Again?

Over 85% of women who have miscarried will go on to have a healthy pregnancy and birth. However, approximately 1%-2% women may have three or more miscarriages due to an autoimmune response.

After miscarriage, it's a good idea to plan your next pregnancy with a healthcare professional. They may advise that you wait a little while (anything between 1-3 menstrual cycles) before trying for having another baby. Progesterone hormonal treatment, required for implantation of the embryo, may prevent another subsequent miscarriage.

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