While many women experience light bleeding or spotting during pregnancy — especially in the first trimester — steady or heavier vaginal bleeding may be symptoms of miscarriage. Also referred to as spontaneous abortion by doctors, miscarriages are a feared complication of pregnancy for all women.
Symptoms of miscarriage typically include vaginal bleeding, which can be light or heavy, constant or spotty, and accompanied by cramping. A woman who is miscarrying may also experience abdominal and pelvic pain and cramping as well as lower back pain. Not all of these symptoms definitely mean that miscarriage is taking place; however, a doctor should be consulted if any of these symptoms are present.
According to estimates, approximately 20% of pregnancies will result in miscarriage. Many pregnancies miscarry very early on, sometimes even before the woman knows that she is pregnant. Symptoms of miscarriage early on may be manifested as a late or heavier than usual period that is accompanied by cramping. Flow may be heavier, and contain clots or even grayish material, which is called “products of conception.”
There are four categories of miscarriage: Threatened miscarriage, Inevitable miscarriage, Incomplete miscarriage and Complete miscarriage. In a threatened miscarriage, a woman may experience some light spotting. Fortunately, in many cases, women experiencing a threatened miscarriage go on to carry their babies to term. With an inevitable miscarriage, there is nothing that can be done to prevent the miscarriage, and the body is starting the process to rid itself of the pregnancy. The difference between an incomplete and a complete miscarriage is that the body retains part of the products of conception in an incomplete miscarriage. This often necessitates a D&C to avoid infection and to enable the mother to resume her normal menstrual cycles. In a complete miscarriage, all the products of conception are expelled, and the woman will start having a regular period.
Contact your doctor if you have any of the basic symptoms of miscarriage. If you are experiencing heavy bleeding, or have a history of ectopic pregnancy you should call your doctor and head to the nearest emergency room. If you have a history of miscarriage, you should also contact your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of miscarriage. If there is significant tissue or blood clots that have been expelled, or you feel dizzy, have a fever or are experiencing nausea or extreme vomiting, you should also seek immediate medical treatment.
Your doctor will conduct a pelvic exam, blood and urine tests and an ultrasound to diagnosis a miscarriage. Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to save the pregnancy, especially if you are less than 20 weeks along. After suffering a miscarriage, be sure to follow the doctor’s recommendations of getting adequate rest to heal from the physical trauma, as well as emotional. Miscarriage is a loss, so treat it as such and seek the help of friends and/or family in coping with it in a healthy way. Most doctors will recommend waiting two to three menstrual cycles before attempting subsequent pregnancies.