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What is a Miscarriage?

Miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before 24 weeks; 80% of miscarriages occur before 12 weeks. Approximately 10% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.

You may have heard the term “missed miscarriage”. This is exactly that – a pregnancy that has failed, but your body has not expelled the pregnancy tissue. You may notice a decrease in early pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, but this is not always the case.

Occasionally, your body may go on to expel the pregnancy naturally, as if you were having a period, albeit depending on how far into the early stages of pregnancy you are, will depend on how heavy the period is. Other times, however, you may only pick this miscarriage up when attempting to hear the fetal heartbeat. If this is the case, you have a number of options – let nature take its course, take medication to help the process along, or undergo a minor procedure under anaesthetic to remove tissues from your womb.


What Are The Symptoms of a Miscarriage?

Unlike a ‘missed miscarriage’, where there are little to no symptoms of a miscarriage, a ‘miscarriage’ is usually heralded by the following symptoms:

Light To Heavy Blood Loss

This may be similar to a period, or may be light spotting. PLEASE NOTE: many women experience spotting and light bleeding in early pregnancy and go on to have a successful delivery.

Abdominal pain

This will usually start after the bleeding has started. It may be cramp-like in nature, or sharp, persistent or intermittent.  Sadly, if you have both bleeding and pain, the chances of the pregnancy continuing are slim.

PLEASE NOTE: In all cases of pregnancy with severe abdominal pain, emergency care from your nearest Accident and Emergency Centre should be sought as soon as possible.


What Causes a Miscarriage?

Random miscarriages account for 50-70%  and usually there is no known cause.

Structural abnormalities of the uterus are the next most common cause, and is seen in 10-20% of miscarriages. whilst chromosomal abnormalities accounts for 2-5% of miscarriages.

Among other causes are:

  • Increased maternal age
  • Multiple fibroids
  • Poorly-controlled diabetes or other chronic conditions
  • A genetic abnormality in the family history or a previous pregnancy with abnormalities
  • Cervical incompetence where the cervix opens up (*this can lead to mid-trimester miscarriage)
  • Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) causes recurrent miscarriage but this is a treatable cause of miscarriage


What Should I Do If I Think I Am Having A Miscarriage?

The best thing to do if you are concerned about bleeding in early pregnancy is to make an appointment to see Dr Penman. Dr Penman usually offers same-day appointments for patients suffering with early pregnancy bleeding.

To book an appointment, please click on the button below and following the instructions for emergency appointments.


What is a Recurrent Miscarriage?

Miscarriage is  classed as recurrent when the mother has had 3 consecutive miscarriages. If you have had one miscarriage, you are no more likely to have a second one than anyone else. However, after you have had three consecutive miscarriages, the risk of a further one jumps to 40%.


What Can Be Done About Recurrent Miscarriage?

There are certain tests that can be done to see if you are carrying any antibodies, particularly for APS (sticky blood). This is one of the conditions that can cause miscarriage by causing blood to clot and, thereby, kill the developing fetus. The good news is that this can be treated with blood thinners such as small doses of aspirin.

There are other chromosomal tests that can be performed on you and your partner to look for anything that may cause problems when trying to become pregnant, although frequently there is nothing found that could cause miscarriage.

Dr Penman can carry out any necessary tests for recurrent miscarriage, and can also discuss your miscarriages with you and work out a plan to try and achieve a successful pregnancy.

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