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If you are a new patient seeking prenatal care, please call 310-794-7274. If you are an established patient and need to reach labor and delivery, call 310-825-9111 for Westwood or 424-259-9250 for Santa Monica.

Signs of a Miscarriage

Miscarriage is loss of a pregnancy that is in the uterus. About 1 in 5 to 1 in 10 pregnancies end in miscarriage. This happens most often in the first three months of pregnancy.

Although miscarriage is relatively common, the loss can feel overwhelming. Knowing the causes and risks for miscarriage can help, as can talking to others who have gone through a similar experience.

Causes of Miscarriage

Most miscarriages happen because of abnormal fetal development. About half of early pregnancy losses happen because the fetus has genetic or chromosomal problems.  Sometimes, the cause of a miscarriage is unknown. 

Risk Factors

The risk factors for miscarriage may include:

  • Being exposed to harmful chemicals
  • Being pregnant at age 35 or older
  • Being underweight or overweight  
  • Having an autoimmune disorder
  • Having certain chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, thyroid disease or diabetes
  • Having existing uterine or cervical problems
  • Having previous miscarriage(s)  
  • Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or using drugs

Signs of a Miscarriage

Symptoms of a miscarriage can include:

  • Mild to severe pain or cramping in your abdomen or lower back
  • Passing of pregnancy tissue or fluid 
  • Vaginal bleeding (with or without pain)

Diagnosing a Miscarriage

To diagnose a miscarriage, your health care provider may perform:

  • A pelvic exam
  • An ultrasound

Other tests may include:

  • Blood tests to check pregnancy hormone levels
  • Tissue tests if you have passed pregnancy tissue
  • Chromosomal tests if you have had a miscarriage before

There are different types of miscarriages, including:

  • Threatened: If you're bleeding but your cervix hasn't begun to dilate, there is a threat of miscarriage.
  • Complete: All pregnancy tissue has passed
  • Incomplete: Only some pregnancy tissue passes; some tissue stays in the uterus
  • Missed: There is no fetal heartbeat or growth, but the embryo doesn’t pass out of the uterus.
  • Septic: This is a miscarriage that becomes infected. This can be a severe infection and demands immediate care.
  • Recurrent: When a person has three or more miscarriages

Treatment for a Miscarriage

For a threatened miscarriage, your health care provider may recommend resting until there is no bleeding or pain. 

If tests show that you have had a miscarriage in the first three months of pregnancy, you may have a few choices. Talk with your provider about the treatment that’s best for you. Treatment choices include:

  • Expectant management: If you have no signs of infection, you might decide to let the miscarriage happen on its own. You’ll be checked often during this time. Medical or surgical treatment will be needed if the pregnancy tissue does not leave the uterus naturally.
  • Medical management: This treatment involves taking medication to help pass the pregnancy tissue and placenta.
  • Surgical management: You may need surgery to remove the pregnancy tissues if they haven’t naturally passed or you have signs of an infection. During this procedure, you will be given anesthesia and then your doctor dilates your cervix and removes tissue from the inside of your uterus.

Pregnancy After Miscarriage

After a pregnancy loss, the idea of getting pregnant again is exciting for some and worrying for others. The good news is that most women can have a baby after miscarriage. Before you start trying to get pregnant again, make sure you’ve healed both physically and emotionally. Check with your doctor to make sure your body is ready for another pregnancy. If you don’t want another pregnancy right away, use birth control.

Coping with a miscarriage

A miscarriage is processed by each person differently and in their own unique way.
No matter how the loss affects you, the following strategies could help:

  • Find a support group or seek counseling.
  • Let others help you, especially if you have other children.
  • Take care of yourself, physically and mentally.
  • Talk to your partner, family members or friends.

Please do not hesitate to ask your health care team for additional support and resources.