Miscarriage is when a pregnancy spontaneously aborts because the developing baby has died. It occurs in around one in four pregnancies and usually doesn’t affect the woman’s ability to become pregnant again. A woman is classed as having recurrent miscarriage if she has three or more miscarriages in a row. She may then require help from a fertility specialist.
Some women have slight bleeding during pregnancy, called spotting, that gradually stops and does not harm the baby. However, if the bleeding is accompanied by pain or it becomes heavier, you may be having a miscarriage. You should visit your doctor in any case to check whether you are having a miscarriage.
Bleeding that does resolve may have been a "threatened miscarriage" and can be caused by bleeding from the placenta, fibroids in the uterus, sexual intercourse, or may be implantation bleeding (caused when the embryo implants into the wall of the uterus). Around half of all women who experience spotting during pregnancy will go on to have a miscarriage.
Symptoms of Miscarriage
• Bleeding (it can be spotting or heavier than a period)
• Uterine cramping that feels like severe period pain
• Sharp pain (if this is down one side only, seek medical help immediately as it is a sign of ectopic pregnancy and is potentially life-threatening)
Bleeding can last for several weeks.
Some women don’t have any symptoms of miscarriage and only discover they have lost their baby when they attend for a routine ultrasound scan. This is called a missed miscarriage.
If you suffer with bleeding and pain in pregnancy, your doctor can refer you for an emergency scan to see if the pregnancy is still viable.
If the baby has died, there are several options for your care:
This is when you let nature take its course and let the womb empty on its own. This can take days to several weeks. The doctors may invite you back to the hospital to have further scans to check that all products of conception have been expelled.