Signs and symptoms of a miscarriage may occur in any pregnant woman up to 20 weeks of gestation. The main symptoms of a miscarriage are:
- Fever and chills;
- Smelly vaginal discharge;
- Blood loss through the vagina, which may start with a brownish color;
- Strong abdominal pain, such as intense menstrual cramps;
- Loss of fluid through the vagina, with or without pain;
- Loss of blood clots through the vagina;
- Intense or constant headache
- Absence of fetal movements for more than 5 hours.
Some situations that can lead to a spontaneous abortion, which may start overnight without an apparent cause, include fetal malformation, excessive alcohol or drug abuse, abdominal trauma, infections and diseases such as diabetes and hypertension when these are not properly controlled during pregnancy.
What to do if you suspect you are having a miscarriage
If a miscarriage is suspected, you should go to the hospital as soon as possible and explain the symptoms you have to your doctor. The doctor should order some tests to check that the baby is well and, if necessary, to indicate appropriate treatment that may include medication use and absolute rest.
How to avoid a miscarriage
To prevent a miscarriage you should avoid certain behaviors, such as not drinking alcohol and avoiding taking any kind of medication without your doctor's knowledge. See which medication can cause a miscarriage;
In addition, pregnant woman should only perform light or moderate physical exercises or those especially indicated for pregnant women and perform prenatal monitoring, attending all appointments and performing all the tests and examinations requested.
Some women have a harder time getting pregnant and are at greater risk of having a miscarriage and should be followed up weekly by their doctor.
Types of miscarriage
Spontaneous abortion can be classified as early, when the loss of the fetus occurs before the 12 th week of pregnancy or late, when the loss of the fetus occurs between the 12 th and the 20 th week of pregnancy. In some cases, it may be induced by a doctor, usually due to therapeutic reasons.
When an abortion occurs, expulsion of the uterine contents may occur in its entirety, may not occur or may not occur completely, and so may be classified as follows:
- Incomplete - When only part of the uterine content is expelled or membranes ruptured;
- Complete - when expulsion of all uterine contents occurs;
- Held - When the fetus is held dead in the womb for 4 weeks or more.
In the US many states prohibit abortion or have very few clinics that provide this service. Some states do not include abortion on the list of healthcare services that people with low incomes can access through Medicaid (government-assisted health insurance). So, sometimes women cannot afford or have to travel to others states to end their unwanted pregnancy.
In the UK, abortions can only be carried out in an National Health Service hospital or a licensed clinic, and are usually available free of charge on the NHS.
What happens after an abortion
After an abortion or miscarriage, you should be examined by a doctor, who checks for traces of the embryo inside the uterus and, if this happens, a curettage should be performed.
In some cases, your doctor may indicate medication that causes the embryos to be expelled or there may be need for surgery to remove the fetus immediately.