I Might be Having a Miscarriage. What do I do?
Thinking about a miscarriage can be very scary and emotionally overwhelming. It’s a really common concern for pregnant women. Maybe that’s because miscarriage (losing a baby before 20 weeks gestation) isn’t uncommon. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 15 – 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. But that means 75 – 80% of pregnancies do not end in miscarriage.
First, let’s talk about why you’re worried about a miscarriage. Are you having symptoms?
The main symptoms of a miscarriage are abdominal pain, cramping and vaginal bleeding. Maybe you’re having these symptoms and you’re afraid that you’re having a miscarriage. Though cramping and bleeding are the main symptoms of a miscarriage, women also sometimes have spotting, bleeding or cramping early in pregnancy because of other reasons. And these women don’t always lose the baby.
Of course, it’s normal to be frightened or worried if you start bleeding or have pain. But take a breath, and let’s remember that it isn’t always a miscarriage.
It’s important to call your doctor right away so you can find out for sure what is happening.
What will your doctor do?
Your healthcare provider will probably take some blood and check the level of hCG (pregnancy hormone). If you’re in the first six weeks of pregnancy, your doctor may just want to wait and see what happens. You might have a vaginal exam to see if your cervix is thinned or dilated, which could be a sign that your body is miscarrying. Finally, your doctor may do an ultrasound to determine if you have a viable pregnancy, meaning if the pregnancy is located in the uterus and your baby’s heartbeat can be seen.
What if your doctor says you’re having a miscarriage? What happens then?
Most of the time, you don’t need any sort of treatment or medical intervention. Unfortunately, once a miscarriage has started, there isn’t anything you can do to stop it. Your doctor will probably send you home to rest. It’s probably a good idea to have someone stay with you (or at the very least, come check on you). Maybe your partner, a close friend or parent will be there to give you emotional support and to keep an eye on your symptoms.
Occasionally, there could be some complications with a miscarriage. So if you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to call your doctor right away or go to the emergency room:
- bleeding that soaks more than one maxi pad in an hour
- feeling faint or dizzy
- having an unusually fast heart rate
- having a lot of pain on one side of your belly or your pelvis
- having a fever and discharge that smells really bad
Why would a miscarriage happen?
When something difficult happens, we naturally want to know the why behind it. However, in the case of miscarriage, it’s rare for a doctor to be able to discover the exact cause.
There are times when the developing fetus has a chromosomal abnormality that occurs randomly and was not inherited from the parents. There’s nothing you did to cause it and there’s nothing you could do to stop it.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a mother’s health condition occasionally contributes to the risk – diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, uterus or cervical abnormalities, immune disorders, abnormal hormone levels, obesity or an infection. So it’s important to talk to your doctor about any of these concerns.
Does this mean I’m more likely to have another miscarriage?
Almost always, a miscarriage is a one-time event. According to the NIH, only about 1% of women have repeat miscarriages or more than one in a row.
Losing a baby to miscarriage, even in the very early weeks of pregnancy, is still a significant loss. It’s so important that you give yourself permission to grieve and to take as much time as you need. There isn’t a timetable. If you need support or someone to listen as you talk through your emotions, our staff is here for you. Please feel free to call us in Kearney, (308) 234-9880 or in Grand Island, (308) 675-2217.