Unfortunately about one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Once you are more than 10 weeks pregnant the risk of miscarriage reduces to about 2 per 100 pregnancies.
The most common symptom of early miscarriage is vaginal blood loss. Approximately one in four pregnant women experience vaginal blood “spotting” during the early weeks of pregnancy. (See implantation spotting) Most women who experience vaginal blood spotting go on to have completely healthy pregnancies. However if your blood loss is like a menstrual period or heavier and you are also experiencing menstrual cramping sensations or pelvic pain, you are probably miscarrying. If you are miscarrying wear a comfortable sanitary pad to absorb the blood loss not a tampon and do not have penetrative sex until you have stopped bleeding.
*Tip – Holding a hot water bottle or wheatsack etc over your abdomen or lying in the bath can help you to cope with the crampy sensations that often accompany a miscarriage.
If you have already registered with a midwife you can contact her for support or you can make an appointment to see your doctor. Your midwife or doctor will often refer you for an ultrasound scan in an effort to eliminate or confirm miscarriage. A small percentage of women will also need to have a small operation called a dilatation and curettage (D and C) if all the fetal tissue has not been expelled.
Many women/couples feel great sadness after a miscarriage and worry that future pregnancies will also end in miscarriage. If you have a miscarriage it does not mean that you will not be able to get pregnant again, or that your next pregnancy will be high risk, however it is recommended that you wait until you have had 1 – 3 normal menstrual cycles before you try to conceive again.
For support and information following a miscarriage, you can contact the Miscarriage Support Group 09 378 4060 or www.miscarriage.org.nz