About one to two in 10 women will miscarry, most often in the first trimester (first 13 weeks of pregnancy). Miscarriage is a pregnancy loss in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. From conception to the eighth week of pregnancy, the developing baby is called an embryo. After the eighth week of pregnancy, the baby is called a fetus.
There are different types of miscarriage. These include:
Threatened. Spotting or bleeding in the first trimester may or may not mean a miscarriage will occur.
Complete. The embryo or fetus, placenta, and other tissues are passed with bleeding.
Incomplete. Only a part of the tissues pass. Some tissue stays in the uterus. There may be heavy vaginal bleeding.
Missed. The embryo or fetus dies, but does not pass out of the uterus. Sometimes dark brown spotting occurs. There is no fetal heartbeat or growth of the fetus.
Septic. This is a miscarriage that becomes infected. The mother has a fever and may have bleeding and discharge with a foul odor. Abdominal pain is common. This is a serious problem and can cause shock and organ failure if not treated.
Recurrent. Three or more miscarriages.
What are the complications of a miscarriage?
Pregnancy loss does not usually cause other serious health problems, unless you have an infection or the tissues are not passed. A serious complication with a miscarriage after 20 weeks is a severe blood clotting problem. This is more likely if it takes a long time (usually a month or more) to pass the fetus and other tissues.
Women with Rh negative blood may need treatment after a miscarriage to prevent problems with blood incompatibility in a future pregnancy. A medicine called Rh immunoglobulin may be given.
Grief support is available
Although miscarriage is common, it is often not talked about and can leave parents feeling alone and devastated. No matter the stage of pregnancy, the connection is very real and often minimized because their baby never lived.
This type of grief can be complicated, depending on personal experiences. There is no right or wrong approach to move through a miscarriage. Finding ways to process through the myriad of emotions is important, as is connecting with good tools to mourn well. Support from others can be key, but you also can create your own means of bringing balance back into your world. Some people find exercise and physical movement helpful, while others relish moments of prayer and meditation.
Support from friends and family can be vital, but it may be difficult for them to know how to be supportive. Often, less is more. Simply creating a safe space to listen and be present provides the greatest comfort. Providing tangible action is helpful too, like offering to mow the lawn or providing a meal.
Seeking outside support can be a great resource for healing. A peer support group or individual counseling can help you process through your miscarriage.
You are not alone. A miscarriage is a significant loss to the woman and her family. It is appropriate and normal to grieve because of the death of a child. Grief support services for adults who have experienced the prenatal death of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of their infant up to one year of age are available at no cost through Lory's Place. Learn more about Lory's Place Tiny Mates support group and other services available at loryplace.org.