Symptoms and Signs of an Impending Miscarriage

What you should look out for

Sad couple with doctor getting news of early miscarriage
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An impending miscarriage will often have some distinct symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping, but having these symptoms in pregnancy does not always mean a miscarriage. If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible for a medical evaluation.

Vaginal Bleeding

Bleeding or spotting is the first sign of a miscarriage for many women. Although vaginal bleeding can be frightening, remember that even heavy bleeding does not always indicate a miscarriage. Sometimes bleeding may be the result of cervical irritation or the process of implantation, and it may stop and the pregnancy may continue without further problems. About 10 percent of all pregnant women experience vaginal bleeding at some point during pregnancy.

Report vaginal bleeding at any point in pregnancy to a medical practitioner. He or she will probably have you come in for an exam to see what’s going on.

Severe Abdominal Pain

Severe pain in the abdomen can be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy, which is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus, often in one of the fallopian tubes. Severe pain in early pregnancy, especially if it is on one side of the abdomen, should always be investigated as an emergency. Milder cramping that is similar to menstrual cramps can occur in normal pregnancies and is not necessarily a sign of miscarriage.

Fading Pregnancy Symptoms

One other common concern in early pregnancy is fading pregnancy symptoms, such as loss of morning sickness or breast soreness. This is an unreliable indicator of loss; symptoms may fluctuate for any reason, including the body becoming accustomed to the hormones of pregnancy, and should not be considered cause to worry. However, it should be mentioned to a doctor at the next scheduled appointment, if for no other reason than to put yourself at ease. 

Not Feeling the Baby Move (Late Second/Third Trimester)

In the second half of pregnancy, if you have begun to feel the baby move, your caregiver will probably advise you to call if a certain amount of time passes during which you don’t feel any movements. If you are not feeling movement under those guidelines, your doctor may ask you to come in for fetal heart monitoring to make sure that your baby is okay.

Preterm Labor

In the second or third trimester, any signs of preterm labor should prompt an immediate call to one’s practitioner and possibly a trip to the emergency room, depending on your doctor’s advice. Signs of preterm labor include:

  • Contractions every 10 minutes or more frequently
  • Vaginal discharge changes
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Cramps that feel like menstrual cramps
  • Dull backache

If You Have Miscarriage Symptoms

If you are having miscarriage symptoms, remember to see your doctor as soon as possible for diagnostic testing. Your pregnancy may still go on to be normal, or you may indeed be experiencing pregnancy loss.

If a miscarriage is, in fact, taking place, remember that miscarriage causes are almost never the mother's fault. Please take care of yourself and look for good support resources to help you get through the experience.

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