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If you’re reading this while experiencing potential signs of miscarriage, first take a long, slow breath. Not knowing how to cope with the physical and emotional pain of threatened miscarriage is completely valid. The best gift to give yourself is to stay in the present: try not to think too far ahead, and take this uncertain time moment by moment.
What is Miscarriage?
A miscarriage is the loss of pregnancy prior to 20 weeks gestation. Unfortunately, it’s estimated that 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Many, if not most, of these losses occur around the time of a woman’s missed period and are referred to as chemical pregnancies. Beyond chemical pregnancies, most other losses occur in the first trimester.
A pregnancy loss at any stage is a heart-wrenching experience. Every loss, like every child, is unique. Some women experience signs of miscarriage suddenly and know quickly that their pregnancy is ending. For others, it is a long, slow process of not knowing whether the pregnancy will continue to term or not.
No matter where you’re at, if you’re concerned about how to cope with signs of miscarriage, you’re not alone. First and foremost, contact your OB or midwife. If you haven’t had your first OB appointment yet, reach out to your primary care physician. They can counsel you on different next steps available to you.
The causes of most miscarriages are unknown and are likely due to chromosomal abnormality, or an unpreventable, incurable genetic problem with the baby’s DNA. With this in mind, some women choose a “wait-and-see” approach, while others prefer to gather more information through ultrasound and blood work to determine pregnancy hormone levels. It’s entirely up to you.
Signs of Miscarriage
The most common signs of miscarriage include period-like bleeding, passing clots and/or tissue, and heavy cramping. These signs of miscarriage warrant an immediate call to your provider or emergency department. Another sign of a medical emergency in early pregnancy is sharp, one-sided pelvic pain. This can be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy that implants outside the uterus. If you experience any of these signs of miscarriage, seek medical attention right away.
However, there are several more ambiguous signs of miscarriage. Some women experience:
- Low back pain
- A sudden decrease in pregnancy symptoms
- Spotting: red, pink, or brown
- Increase in vaginal discharge
However, it’s important to note that low back pain, increased vaginal discharge, spotting, and cramping can also be normal signs of early pregnancy as well. Pregnancy symptoms can also change and evolve rapidly.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it can feel incredibly hard to remain positive and patient. Anxiety in pregnancy is common, and feeling worried about a potential miscarriage is an experience many women can relate to.
How to Cope with Signs of Miscarriage
If you’re in the waiting stages of not knowing whether your pregnancy is viable or not, you’re not alone. Be gentle with yourself during this sensitive time. Know that no matter what road lies ahead, you will find the strength to walk it like others before you.
During this uncertain time, try to embrace the discomfort of not knowing what the future holds. Pregnancy, birth and parenthood force us to accept that we have very little control over how our stories unfold. Instead, we have to embrace what we CAN control:
- How we treat and speak to ourselves
- The support system we surround ourselves with
- The way we spend each moment we have with our babies, no matter how fleeting
Talk to your baby. Tell them they are safe and loved. Tell them how excited you are to meet them, and what you dream your life together to be like.
And if need be, tell them it’s okay if they cannot stay long. That they are still safe and loved, and will be cherished and remembered by all who knew of their existence.
Pregnancy + Infant Loss Day
On October 15th, each year we honor the lives of babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss, and their families who grieve for them. This day reminds us to cherish our children, no matter how much or how little time we have with them.
If you’re in the throes of loss or potential loss this year, take comfort in the support of other parents who have been through it. No one should suffer the uncertainty of threatened miscarriage or the pain of loss alone. With each other’s support and compassion is how we cope and find healing.