5 signs and symptoms of miscarriage

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Trigger warning: This post deals with sensitive subjects such as miscarriage and pregnancy loss. If you or someone you know has been impacted by issues raised in this story, help is always available. Please call the SANDS 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637 or visit their website here.

Trying to have a baby can be an anxious time. Between figuring out when your ovulation window is, hoping your partner’s sperm count will be good enough, and actually trying to fall pregnant, there are a lot of stressful factors at play. 

Without question, the most heartbreaking occurrence is losing a baby. A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy up until 19 weeks gestation. From 20 weeks on, it is defined as stillbirth. Tragically according to the Gidget Foundation, one in five pregnancies end before 20 weeks, with most losses happening in the first 12 weeks. 

As you navigate your pregnancy, arming yourself with essential knowledge will give you the confidence to know if you need to seek further medical help. 

What are the 5 main signs and symptoms of miscarriage? 

  1. One of the most common signs of a miscarriage is bleeding from the vagina. The bleeding may start as light spotting before turning into a brownish discharge or bright-red clots.
  2. You experience cramping and pain in your lower back.
  3. Pregnancy tissue and fluid are passing out of your vagina. 
  4. You suffer from intense cramps in your stomach, similar to that of contractions or severe period pain.
  5. Fever is also a common side effect that may accompany any of these symptoms.

What are the first signs of miscarriage in early pregnancy? 

Light bleeding or spotting is often the first sign of a miscarriage. The vaginal bleeding becomes heavier and turns into gushes of blood as the cervix dilates to empty. Remember, any kind of bleeding during pregnancy is serious and should always be raised with your doctor. 

How soon after miscarriage do pregnancy symptoms disappear?

After miscarrying, pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, tender breasts, and fatigue usually vanish in a matter of days. Following a miscarriage, cramping and bleeding may persist for around two weeks. While everyone’s experience will be different, it’s important to seek medical attention if you’re still feeling unwell and continue to bleed for an extended period of time in the weeks after your miscarriage.   

What happens if you miscarry at home?

It may be hard to spot the possible signs of miscarriage. Sometimes, a miscarriage can happen so quickly that there isn’t time to get to the hospital. If that happens:

  • Call your doctor or midwife immediately. 
  • If you are alone, try and get a support person over to be with you.
  • Use pads to help manage the bleeding.
  • If possible, save any pregnancy tissue so you can have it tested to help find out why your miscarriage occurred. 

For women who have experienced miscarriage, the thought of being pregnant again can be too much to bear. Some women will choose to take time before trying to conceive again, in order to give their body and heart time to heal and process what has happened. 

Other women will yearn to be pregnant again, and despite the fear and anxiety around what has happened, they will want to feel that life inside them once again. However, they then fear that others might think they do not care or have “moved on”. 

Some women may even find that they experience a newfound appreciation for pregnancy that they didn’t have before — finding comfort in symptoms such as morning sickness or breast tenderness and seeing these as small reassurances of the baby inside them, which helps these mothers enjoy the process and the milestones a little more.

Looking after both your mental and physical health after you miscarry is so important. Ensure you surround yourself with a loving support network and take all the time you need to process what has happened. If you are struggling and need further assistance, do not hesitate to speak with your GP or a psychologist.

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