Think you may be having a miscarriage? Here are some early miscarriage symptoms, causes, what you can expect during each type of miscarriage, and when you can start trying for another baby…
Today, I’m sharing a little bit of hurt and sadness – Chris and I experienced another miscarriage in February.
I feel very hurt and saddened by the event. I guess there’s no ‘better’ word for what’s happened.
We lost something – someone.
Someone we’ll never know in this world, but will always love.
If you’ve been following our TTC journey on Instagram, you already know I’ve been sharing both the UPS and the DOWNS of trying to conceive.
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While we may be forced to wait another month before trying again, I am still very much looking forward to trying again and pressing forward on our journey to conceive.
When you first find out that you’re pregnant, it can be difficult to understand when why certain things happen, and what is deemed to be normal after conception.
Like bleeding in pregnancy or mild cramping, there are some signs you absolutely SHOULD not ignore.
Here are the miscarriage signs and symptoms you need to understand and watch out for, as well as the different types of miscarriages there are…
*I am NOT a medical professional. Always consult your doctor or healthcare provider if you believe you are miscarrying past 8 weeks, or experience any of the EMERGENCY early miscarriage symptoms listed in this post.
What Is A Miscarriage?
A miscarriage is the sudden loss of a baby that is less than 20 weeks.
Who Can Miscarry?
Anyone, really! It’s estimated that approximately 30-40% of all pregnancies result in miscarriage, however, many women miscarry before even realizing they are pregnant:
What Are The Chances I Will Miscarry?
According to Parents.com, miscarriage isn’t selective to who it affects. Here are some factors that may increase your risk of miscarriage:
- age (the older you are, the higher the risk)
- uncontrolled diabetes
- autoimmune disorders
- clotting disorders
- thyroid disorders (hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism)
When it comes to age, Parents.com says that a woman who is 40 years old, for example, has a 40% chance of miscarrying her pregnancy.
Early Miscarriage Symptoms
If you’re curious to know if what you’re feeling is indeed a miscarriage, remember to speak to your doctor to confirm, but here are some common early miscarriage signs:
- early pregnancy back pain (lower back pain)
- pain in your abdomen
- white-pink mucusy discharge
- the passing of clot-like tissue
- cramping early in pregnancy (mild to severe cramps)
Some women may experience implantation bleeding around 10 days after implantation, which may be confused with a miscarriage, however, is a completely normal part of conception.
Implantation Bleeding vs. Miscarriage
Implantation bleeding occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the interior lining of the uterus and is considered one of the earliest signs of pregnancy.
While only 1/3 of pregnant women will experience implantation bleeding, it is perfectly normal and should only last around 1-3 days.
Implantation bleeding typically ranges from a light pink color to dark brown.
Bleeding from a miscarriage can be quite different from implantation bleeding in both duration and color.
When experiencing a miscarriage, a woman’s bleeding will last much longer and be more intense.
Early Miscarriage Causes
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If you’ve experienced a miscarriage, don’t blame yourself!
There are many reasons why miscarriages occur, many of which you have no control over.
The most common cause of miscarriage is chromosomal abnormalities.
This means that the sperm has successfully fertilized the egg, but the embryo either doesn’t have the correct number of chromosomes or errors in cell division result in a non-viable embryo that your body then miscarries.
While we can’t possibly know or analyze every single miscarriage for its cause, here are some other common causes of miscarriage:
- extreme stress (for example, the loss of a close family member)
- excessive drinking of alcohol
- uterine and cervical structure
- an incompetent cervix
- irregularly-shaped uterus
- uterine septum
- amniocentesis (however, the risk is minimal)
- hormone imbalances
Factors That Do Not Cause Miscarriages
Here are some factors that are commonly thought to cause miscarriages, but don’t:
- past use of contraceptives
- molar pregnancy
When it comes to exercising while pregnant, no need to fret!
Consult with your doctor and ask him or her what the safe amount of exercise is for you during your pregnancy.
Depending on your current health and any risk factors you may or may not have, they will be able to best tell you what types of exercise are best for you.
They will most likely encourage you to keep exercising during your pregnancy!
Types Of Miscarriages
There are approximately 10 different types of miscarriages:
- threatened miscarriage
- inevitable miscarriage
- missed miscarriage
- complete miscarriage
- incomplete miscarriage
- recurrent miscarriage
- ectopic pregnancy
- spontaneous abortion
- molar pregnancy
- chemical pregnancy
Keep reading to learn more about each type of miscarriage…
What Is A Chemical Pregnancy?
“A chemical pregnancy is an early pregnancy loss that occurs shortly after implantation. Chemical pregnancies may account for 50 to 75 percent of all miscarriages.” – Healthline.com
A chemical pregnancy occurs so early after conception and implantation that it can be detected with a pregnancy test, but not with your OB’s ultrasound equipment.
Bleeding and cramping that occur with a chemical pregnancy are often very similar to your menstrual cycle and can often be mistaken for your period.
A threatened miscarriage occurs when you experience bleeding and abdominal cramps during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
While the exact cause of the bleeding is unknown, it’s estimated that 50% of women who experience this spontaneous bleeding during their pregnancy will continue on with their pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby.
Other factors (besides the ones we’ve already mentioned above) may increase your chance for a threatened miscarriage, such as bacterial or viral infection during pregnancy, trauma to your abdomen, and obesity.
Inevitable Miscarriage, Incomplete Miscarriage, And Complete Miscarriage
With an inevitable miscarriage, a woman experiences all of the symptoms of miscarriage without actually having expelled the contents of her uterus (the embryo).
An inevitable miscarriage may be a progression from a threatened miscarriage.
Once tissue begins to vacate the uterus, it is considered an incomplete miscarriage, and once the uterus is completely vacant it is considered a complete miscarriage.
Also known as a silent miscarriage, a missed miscarriage can go completely undetected by the woman that experiences it because it happens so early in the pregnancy.
A missed miscarriage can happen for a few different reasons:
- blighted ovum: embryo doesn’t develop at all and the sac is empty
- embryo started to grow, but then stopped
Though you may still experience regular pregnancy symptoms and see a BFP (big fat positive) on your pregnancy test, a missed miscarriage might not be noticed until your first ultrasound.
Your ultrasound technician or OB will tell you that either the sac is empty, or the embryo has no heartbeat.
After a woman experiences her first miscarriage, any immediate miscarriage following is referred to as a recurrent miscarriage.
This is very rare, but it does happen.
Your doctor will most likely order tests and an exam to be performed to determine a possible underlying cause or fertility problems that may have been looked over.
Frequently Asked Questions
I Believe I’ve Had A Miscarriage – Should I Call My Doctor?
When you’re having a miscarriage (especially if it’s your first), it may be difficult to know when to call your doctor or rush to the E.R.
Here are some common symptoms that should raise the red flag that you should seek medical attention and head to the E.R. immediately:
- heavy bleeding; if you are soaking through a pad in less than an hour
- severe abdominal pain
If you believe you are having an early miscarriage (like a chemical miscarriage), medical treatment is often not required.
If you tested positive on a pregnancy test and are experiencing a heavier period and suspect you are having a miscarriage, keep the above red flag symptoms and test for pregnancy again in a few days.
If the test comes up negative, you most likely experienced a miscarriage.
Listen to your body, use common sense, and keep the symptoms I mentioned above in mind.
And please, if you do experience any of them (they do not need to be experienced in combination with the rest), seek medical care immediately.
What Is A D&C?
D&C stands for dilation and curettage.
A D&C is sometimes performed after either a miscarriage or abortion (but can also be performed to collect necessary endometrial samples should your doctor require them).
Your doctor may also perform a D&C if he/she concludes that your pap smear tested abnormally.
When performed after a miscarriage, your doctor will clean out and remove the contents from your uterus to prevent heavy bleeding or infection.
If you experience a very early miscarriage, your body will most likely expel all of the tissue, and you will not require a D&C.
If you are further along, 10+ weeks, and have miscarried, a D&C will be recommended by your doctor.
What Happens During A D&C?
During a D&C, your doctor will enter a speculum into your vagina (a tool that holds open the vaginal walls), open your cervix if it is closed using a tool called a dilator, and use either a curettage tool to scrape against the walls of your uterus or a suction curettage to remove any remaining tissue.
Your doctor may choose to do this procedure as an outpatient visit or in a hospital setting.
You will most likely receive a sedative to help you relax through the process.
Your doctor may recommend you undergo general anesthesia or IV anesthesia for the procedure as well.
Once the procedure is complete, your doctor may choose to send the removed tissue to a lab for testing.
What Can I Expect After A D&C?
You can expect to be discharged from treatment within a few hours of the procedure (although you may need to stay longer if you have other health complications or concerns).
You will likely be sent home with:
- ibuprofen 800mg (or another light pain killer per your doctor’s RX)
- light cramping
- some bleeding
You will be prohibited from inserting anything into your vagina for a minimum of two weeks (such as tampons, douches, or participating in sexual intercourse).
Your period will likely return within 2-6 weeks of the procedure. Once it returns, your doctor will probably okay the use of tampons.
We’ve Just Had A Miscarriage – How Can I Support My Partner During This Time?
Try to remember that a miscarriage is a loss for both you and your partner.
Try to schedule some one-on-one time with your partner.
If you need to cry, hug, and talk it out, do it!
When Can I Start Trying Again?
“Typically, sex is not recommended for two weeks after a miscarriage to prevent an infection. Talk to your health care provider about any recommendations or restrictions. Your period will likely return within six weeks; however, it’s possible to become pregnant if you have sex before your period returns.” –Mayo Clinic
Remember to follow your doctor’s recommendations when it comes to having sex again, and trying for a baby.
Depending on your particular health history and fertility journey, that answer may be different for you than for your friend who has experienced a miscarriage and was told something different.
If you have experienced a miscarriage, I sincerely feel for you during this time.
I hope this post has helped you better understand the different types of miscarriages, and what to expect from a difficult time such as this.
*Post originally published February 2019, updated December 2021.