What is a miscarriage?
Miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy in the first 20 weeks. (In medical articles, you may see the term “spontaneous abortion” used in place of miscarriage.) About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and more than 80 percent of these losses happen before 12 weeks.
This doesn’t include situations in which you lose a fertilized egg before a pregnancy becomes established. Studies have found that 30 to 50 percent of fertilized eggs are lost before or during the process of implantation – often so early that a woman goes on to get her period at about the expected time.
Spotting the signs of a miscarriage
If you have these signs of miscarriage, call your doctor or midwife right away so she can determine whether you have a problem that needs to be dealt with immediately:
- Bleeding or spotting. Vaginal spotting or bleeding is usually the first sign of miscarriage. Keep in mind, though, that up to 1 in 4 pregnant women have some bleeding or spotting (finding spots of blood on your underpants or toilet tissue) in early pregnancy, and most of these pregnancies don’t end in miscarriage.
- Abdominal pain. Abdominal pain usually begins after you first have some bleeding. It may feel crampy or persistent, mild or sharp, or may feel more like low back pain or pelvic pressure.
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