Am I Having a Miscarriage?

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It's not always easy to tell whether you are having a miscarriage in the first trimester of pregnancy. For women who know they are pregnant, miscarriage symptoms can be challenging to interpret, as signs of vaginal bleeding or cramping may not always be present right away. Bleeding and uterine cramping can be present in normal pregnancies as well as ectopic pregnancies. Likewise, other clues suggesting a potential miscarriage, like a sudden disappearance of pregnancy symptoms, may be subtle and not so obvious to a woman. Learn how to best figure out whether your miscarriage symptoms mean pregnancy loss.

Speaking with your doctor if you are concerned about a miscarriage in the first trimester is paramount. Your physician can help you figure out whether your symptoms mean a miscarriage by using objective diagnostic tests such as hCG blood tests and an ultrasound. If you are in a later stage of pregnancy and worried about miscarriage, your first step should always be to call your physician.

Symptoms of Miscarriage in the First Trimester

First, be sure that you are indeed having miscarriage symptoms before you worry too much. Two major symptoms of a miscarriage are vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping. It's important to note that the presence of these symptoms is not a definitive indication that a woman is indeed miscarrying. For example, mild abdominal cramping during pregnancy is rarely anything to worry about.

Brown spotting can also occur in normal pregnancies, although you still should call your physician. Heavy and red vaginal bleeding is a more concerning symptom.

Other potential signs and symptoms of a miscarriage include:

  • A pinkish vaginal discharge
  • Passing clots, which may contain blood mixed in with fetal tissue
  • A sudden loss of pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness or sore breasts is a less-sure sign. Some pregnancy symptoms naturally disappear or fluctuate as a pregnancy progresses. For instance, nausea and morning sickness often calm down naturally mid-pregnancy or sooner, and this disappearance may seem sudden to some women.

Follow your gut and talk to your doctor if you feel like something is just not right.

Take a Pregnancy Test

If your pregnancy test is negative and was previously positive, you can likely assume you had a miscarriage. If your test is positive, your pregnancy may still be viable. In this case, you will need to check with your physician to find out for sure. A pregnancy test may still be positive soon after a miscarriage because the pregnancy hormone (hCG) level has not decreased enough to make a pregnancy test negative.

If your pregnancy test is negative and you were not sure whether you were pregnant in the first place, it's not possible to tell whether or not your abnormal bleeding was a miscarriage. In this instance, it's best to report your experience to a doctor if you are worried.

Also, note that in early pregnancy, it's best to not try to figure out whether you are miscarrying by taking multiple pregnancy tests regularly to see if the line gets darker and darker. Home pregnancy tests cannot accurately judge how your hCG levels are rising and the darkness of the line can vary based on the time of day and amount of water you've been drinking.

Have Pregnancy Tests Performed by a Healthcare Provider

Your healthcare provider can perform more sensitive tests. The wait for test results can be difficult, but sometimes a physician cannot determine immediately whether one set of test results means miscarriage. You may have to wait for a follow-up ultrasound to find out if the baby is still developing or for a repeat hCG blood test to see if your hCG levels are rising or falling. Your physician will want to be sure of the answer before confirming a diagnosis of pregnancy loss.

A Word From Verywell

Worrying about a miscarriage is an understandable feeling when you are pregnant, especially if you have experienced pregnancy loss before. Contact your doctor if signs or symptoms of a miscarriage arise, and try to remain calm until you know the true answer.

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