Coping with an early miscarriage
Miscarriage is sadly very common, with around 20 per cent of confirmed pregnancies failing. But no matter how often it might occur statistically, it is a personal and heartbreaking loss.
At a glance
- Sadly around 20% of confirmed pregnancies fail
- It is personal and heartbreaking but usually unpreventable
- There are lots of support groups to talk to that will offer you help
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 24 weeks.
Most miscarriages happen before the 12th week of pregnancy. Early miscarriages are usually due to a complication with the development of the embryo and are totally unpreventable. It is highly unlikely that anything you have done in the course of your pregnancy will have caused it to fail, or that you could have done anything to stop it.
First signs of an early miscarriage
The first sign of an early miscarriage is usually bleeding. It is worth remembering that not all bleeding indicates a problem – some mums will bleed on and off throughout their pregnancy, others will experience early spotting as their pregnancy implants. However, you should always get checked out by your doctor or early pregnancy unit if you are experiencing bleeding, particularly if you are passing clots and/or having cramping.
Occasionally, bleeding along with pains and a fever can be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, so it is very important to be seen by a doctor or midwife.
What happens if you have an early miscarriage?
If you are more than six weeks pregnant, you will most likely be given an ultrasound scan – sometimes vaginally if you are very early along – to find out what is happening. Your doctor or midwife may also run blood tests to check your pregnancy hormone levels. If you are miscarrying, they will talk you through the best way of managing the loss physically. In early pregnancy, this will most usually be the natural passing of the pregnancy vaginally, which could mean bleeding for up to 14 days.
If scans reveal your miscarriage is incomplete – if any tissue is left behind after the bleeding has stopped – you may be offered surgery or drugs to remove it. Similarly, if you miscarry later in to your pregnancy, you are more likely to require medical management.
Where to get support if you have an early miscarriage
Miscarriage is an emotionally challenging time. You are likely to feel sad and even angry that this has happened to you. It is important to talk about how you are feeling, and to seek support. The Miscarriage Association can offer you practical and emotional help.
A miscarriage is not the fault of the mother or anyone else, it's often unknown why a miscarriage happens, although sometimes the doctor may be able to offer some further tests to try and identify an explanation. If you have had several miscarriages your doctor may be able to refer to a specialist to try and investigate further and support you in your next pregnancy.