Miscarriage Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Miscarriage Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

14 Mar 2018 | 9 min Read

Dr Saurabh Dani

Author | 10 Articles

The most traumatic pregnancy experience that can possibly be is that of losing a baby even before having one! The term as we know it, miscarriage –  is defined as  the natural loss of the baby dies in the womb before the 20th  week of pregnancy. If stats are to be believed, around 15 % of pregnancies that are identified or those that test positive, can end in a miscarriage. The brutal fact is there are some women who happen to miscarry even before they know that they are pregnant! 

Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester, meaning before 13 weeks. Second-trimester miscarriages are comparatively less in number. However, there are cases,, where a fetal loss is reported post the 20th week. This condition  is termed as fetal demise in the utero.

What Miscarriage Means? 

Miscarriage is defined as the loss of pregnancy, which occurs when the baby isn’t able to survive in the womb.

Almost half of all miscarriages are linked to missing chromosomes. The chromosome abnormalities are most typically caused due to improper embryo division and development,  rather than due to genes or hereditary factors.

Signs and Symptoms of a Miscarriage 

Vaginal bleeding is the hallmark sign of a miscarriage. Apart from that, some of the other signs and symptoms of a miscarriage include

  • Cramps and discomfort in the lower abdomen
  • Some fluid discharge from vagina
  • A tissue-like discharge from the vagina
  • Lack of pregnancy symptoms, like nausea and breast soreness.

Types of Miscarriage 

Miscarriages are classified as threatened, inevitable, complete, incomplete or missed. Find out more about these sorts in the sections below.

Threatened

A threatened miscarriage occurs when your body begins to display indicators of miscarriage. In this case, you may experience some vaginal bleeding or lower stomach pain.

Inevitable

In case of an  inevitable miscarriage, there is a lot more vaginal bleeding and severe l cramps in the lower stomach. Your cervix may open during this miscarriage, and the growing foetus may be washed away with the blood.

Complete

A complete miscarriage occurs when all of the pregnancy tissue leaves your uterus.  This condition is accompanied by vaginal bleeding that lasts for a few days. You may also experience cramping discomfort, similar to labour or heavy menstruation as the uterus contracts to empty.

Incomplete

An incomplete miscarriage is when some tissues are held back in the uterus after a miscarriage. In this case, the uterus tries to empty itself and you may experience constant vaginal bleeding and lower abdominal cramps.

Missed

Missed miscarriage is a type, where the foetus doesn’t survive, yet remains in the uterus. In this case, you may experience a brownish discharge and some pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea and fatigue. Missed miscarriage requires immediate medical care and attention.

Causes of Miscarriage 

What causes miscarriage? Well, about half of all miscarriages in the first trimester are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the parent’s sperm, which may be the result of genetics.  Some other causes of miscarriage include:

  • Chromosomal abnormalities are the prime cause of an early miscarriage. If there are chromosomal issues then the embryo is considered non-viable by the body and is expelled in the form of a miscarriage. At times, fertilisation happens and implants occur but the fetus fails to develop further. This condition is in fact, termed as the blighted ovum and may increase the risk of a miscarriage..

  • Smoking, alcohol consumption or drug abuse can also lead to the signs of miscarriage. Once you have conceived, avoid all of these. Remember, passive smoking is also harmful to the developing baby, so ensure that you keep a distance from those who smoke.

  • In some cases, the mum may have certain health conditions like hormonal abnormalities, infections,  uncontrolled diabetes and thyroid that can cause  miscarriage. Obesity is also one of them. So make sure you focus on maintaining your weight  and BMI to an ideal range before you conceive.

Risk Factors 

The risk of miscarriage may increase due to the following factors

  • Age factor; the risk of miscarriage in women older than 35 years of age is higher than women below this age. 
  • Medical conditions like previous miscarriages, uterine disorders, smoking, alcohol, and consuming illegal substances.
  • Overweight
  • Prenatal diagnostics that are invasive.

Diagnosis

An ultrasound scan or scans are frequently used to diagnose or confirm the miscarriage. The person doing the scan must be positive that the baby (or fetus or embryo) has survived or has not matured. This may need many scans – normally separated by at least one week.

  • In rare circumstances, especially in second-trimester pregnancy, a scan may not be required to confirm a miscarriage.

  • Symptoms like bleeding, discomfort, and passing a discernible pregnancy sac or delivering a baby also confirms miscarriage.
     
  • In some cases, doctors may still recommend a scan to check that the miscarriage is complete or not. 

Treatment 

Unfortunately, once a miscarriage has occurred, it cannot be reversed. However, you can avoid certain issues with medication or treatments like dilation and curettage. You can also opt for doctor counselling and assistance which are also readily accessible.

Depression after Miscarriage  

Miscarriage is a terrible occurrence that affects each woman differently. It can result in sadness, anxiety, melancholy, and even PTSD symptoms (PTSD). Depression after miscarriage is quite normal. After a miscarriage, it’s natural to experience great loss and grief.

Prevention

Preparing for and maintaining a healthy lifestyle before and during pregnancy can be beneficial. Here are some suggestions on how to avoid miscarriage:

  • The first step to prevent miscarriage begins in the planning phase. If you are of childbearing age and planning a baby, make sure that you get all your tests done to ensure there are no health conditions that can lead to a miscarriage.

  • Avoid Smoking and drinks and ensure your husband is also a part of this healthy routine. One of the reasons for conceiving a blighted ovum is an unhealthy sperm. Ensure that both you and your husband visit the doctor and start taking supplements as prescribed.

  • Ensure that you do not have any active infections like Rubella, Malaria, HIV, or Dengue, that can cause an early miscarriage. Some of these have vaccinations available that can be taken if you are not immune. These vaccines cannot be taken once you have conceived so make sure you discuss the options with your doctor in the planning phase.

  • There are some foods that can cause infections and  harm the unborn fetus. Hence, make sure you avoid foods like soft cheeses that are mould/ripened, like blue cheese, raw eggs, excess caffeine, raw or undercooked meat, shellfish, sushi, and certain herbal teas . All of these food items can cause a reaction in the mother or an infection which could trigger a miscarriage.

  • At times the reasons for miscarriage can be identified and that makes it possible to prevent further miscarriages. For some women, the cervix may be weak and hence dilates before the mum reaches full term.  This is known as cervical incompetence. If this is the cause of a miscarriage in an earlier pregnancy your doctor will do a small operation to put a small stitch of a strong thread around the cervix to keep it closed. This is generally done after you have completed 12 weeks and it is removed when you reach full term at about 37 weeks.

 

Care

  • Eating a healthy and balanced pregnancy diet with five to nine portions of fruits and vegetables daily will keep you well-nourished and help sustain the pregnancy.

  • A miscarriage can be a traumatic experience and most mums will blame themselves and burden themselves with the guilt. They might also believe some myths around the condition. But be rest assured, as eating some ripe papaya or exercising or even working through a healthy pregnancy are not causes of miscarriage.

  • Discuss with your doctor to understand your  case and how  can you avoid a miscarriage. Most of the time you can plan a pregnancy as early as three months post a miscarriage based on your doctor’s guidance.

Future Pregnancies After Miscarriage

Miscarriage is always a one-time occurrence. After a miscarriage, the majority of women go on to have healthy pregnancies. A tiny percentage of women, about 1%, will experience multiple miscarriages. After one miscarriage, the probability of miscarriage in a subsequent pregnancy is estimated to be around 20%.

FAQs

Q1: When to try to conceive after a miscarriage?

After a miscarriage, you can ovulate and become pregnant as soon as two weeks later. Ask the doctor for advice once you feel emotionally and physically ready for pregnancy after miscarriage..

Q2 How long does a miscarriage last?

A woman may suffer a miscarriage early in her pregnancy and only experience bleeding and discomfort for a few hours or for a week. The bleeding can be heavy and clot-filled, but it gradually fades over days until ceasing completely, generally within two weeks.

Q3 What should you not do after a miscarriage?

Your menstruation should begin within 4 to 6 weeks after the miscarriage. For roughly 1-2 weeks, don’t put anything in your body, even a tampon, and avoid sex after miscarriage. It may take longer for your body to recover emotionally, particularly if you were aware that you were pregnant at the time of your miscarriage.

Q4 What does an early miscarriage look like?

During the early miscarriage, the bleeding might begin as light spotting. You may experience heavier bleeding later, or it may be severe from the start. The blood might look pinkish, bright red, or brown in colour. You can also experience cramps.

Q5 Are miscarriages painful?

Not all miscarriages are physically painful but the majority of women experience cramps. For some people, the cramps are really severe, while for others, they are mild (like a period or less). It’s also common to have vaginal bleeding.

Takeaway

After a miscarriage, it’s critical to give your body some time to heal physically and emotionally. Above all, don’t hold it against yourself. You should consult your doctor who can assist you in coping with your loss and provide you with the best treatment possible. Also, if you’re suffering from diabetes during pregnancy, then you can grab some information about gestational diabetes. And if you want to know about fertility treatment, then head out to it to know more! 

Related Articles

What is Placenta: During pregnancy, you are nurturing your baby within you. However, there’s something else growing in your uterus too that is responsible for keeping your baby alive is known as Placenta! Read on to find out more about it!

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