10 Things You Didn't Know About Miscarriage
Information about miscarriage is far more readily available than it used to be, thanks to the Internet, but some aspects of the experience still may come as a surprise. The following are 10 things that are good to know if you are having symptoms of miscarriage or have been recently diagnosed with a miscarriage. 1 Pregnancy Bleeding Does Not Always Mean Miscarriage Andrew Brookes/Cultura/Getty Images
Bleeding in early pregnancy is often the first sign of miscarriage, but it doesn t always mean miscarriage -- even when the bleeding is heavy and red. If you are in the first trimester, your doctor should be able to run some blood tests or use ultrasound scans to figure out what s going on. Always call a doctor immediately for second and third trimester bleeding.
In the early part of the first trimester, doctors frequently cannot confirm a miscarriage in a single day. You may need to have at least two blood tests or ultrasound scans spaced several days apart in order for the doctor to get enough information to determine whether the pregnancy is developing properly.
More 3 The Emergency Room Is Not Always the Best Place to Go When Having Symptoms Terry Vine/The Image Bank/Getty Images
In the first trimester, a doctor can t do anything to stop a miscarriage that is in progress -- and as stated above, you may not be able to get a diagnosis in a single visit anyway. Always go to the emergency room if you are concerned about ectopic pregnancy, if your bleeding is extremely heavy (soaking a menstrual pad in under an hour), or if you have any concern that your health is otherwise at risk. But absent those concerns, the E.R. probably won t be able to do much for you, and it s probably better to call your regular doctor.
It is absolutely true that an ectopic pregnancy is sometimes a medical emergency -- ruptured ectopic pregnancies can be fatal. But when doctors diagnose an ectopic pregnancy early enough along that it doesn t seem at risk of rupture, the situation may not be so dire. The treatment may be a medication to end the pregnancy on an outpatient basis -- or simply monitoring the hCG levels, if it appears that the ectopic pregnancy is ending naturally.
More Information:How Doctors Diagnose Ectopic PregnancyEctopic Pregnancy SymptomsCan an Ectopic Pregnancy Be Saved?
Sometimes the baby stops growing and developing, but there are no outward signs of miscarriage. The pregnancy loss might be discovered during a routine ultrasound or when the heartbeat fails to become audible on a handheld doppler by the start of the second trimester.
More 6 The Physical Process of Miscarriage Can Take Several Days Peter Dazeley/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
Despite how it is often depicted in the media, a first-trimester miscarriage usually does not happen all at once. The baby usually has already passed away by the time the physical symptoms of miscarriage appear, sometimes more than a week before. The miscarriage bleeding may begin as light spotting and then progress to a heavier flow with clots after a few days. You may have some level of bleeding for up to two weeks, although it should not remain heavy for that entire time.
Many people describe an early miscarriage as being like a heavy menstrual period. For some women, the reality is that the process involves more than just minor cramps. There can be intense lower abdominal/back pain that interferes with your ability to go about normal daily activities. Check with a doctor when you have severe cramping to be sure that ectopic pregnancy is ruled out, and perhaps to get a recommendation for a painkiller. But severe pain with a miscarriage does not necessarily mean anything abnormal is going on.
Some women will resume ovulating in as little as two weeks after a miscarriage, whereas others may find themselves waiting up to three months before normal menstrual cycles resume. There is a lot of individual variation and it is not possible to predict when you will be fertile again. So it s a good idea to use protection any time you have sex unless you are trying to get pregnant again.
Doctors frequently recommend waiting for various amounts of time before getting pregnant again after a miscarriage, but barring individual medical circumstances, there is no strong evidence that there is an increased risk if you get pregnant again right away.
It s easy to assume that modern medicine has all the answers, but sadly that s just not the case. Sometimes even reputable sources will have conflicting information about what does and does not cause miscarriage. Frustratingly often, there are simply more questions than answers -- and that can be hard to accept.
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