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An early miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy with in the first 12 weeks.

How common are miscarriages?

Sadly, early miscarriages are very common. It's perfectly possible to have a miscarriage before you even realise you're pregnant. About half of all fertilised eggs are thought to be lost in the earliest days of pregnancy, before a pregnancy test has been done. Between 10 and 20 per cent of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Most miscarriages happen in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. You are not alone the more you talk about it the more you will realise there is a lot of support out there. A miscarriage at any stage of your pregnancy can be terrible. Even if it happens very early on in pregnancy, it's only natural to feel sad about it.

What can cause early miscarriage?

An early miscarriage can usually happen because the embryo is not developing as it should do. Chromosome problems are thought to be the most common cause of this. These problems usually happen for no reason and are unlikely to happen again. A baby needs the right number of normal chromosomes to develop properly. They will need 23 from his mum and 23 from his dad. Chromosomal abnormalities can prevent a baby from developing. These abnormalities may happen because there are too many chromosomes or not enough chromosomes, or because there are changes to a chromosome's structure. In that case, the pregnancy will come to an end at the embryo stage. It is said that up to 95 per cent of pregnancies with chromosomal abnormalities end in miscarriage.

How do I know if I'm having an early miscarriage?

The most common signs of a miscarriage are vaginal bleeding and strong period-type cramps. The bleeding can vary from light to heavy flow, perhaps with blood clots, and may come and go for a few days. With any bleeding or pain in early pregnancy, call your doctor/gynecologist, or hospital.

Some early miscarriages are discovered only during a routine scan. A scan reveals an empty pregnancy sac, where the embryo should have been. This is called a missed or silent miscarriage. You may have had no idea that this has happened, in which case it will come as a shock. Or you may have had some symptoms, giving you growing fears that all was not well with the pregnancy.

What happens after the miscarriage?

In most cases, a woman's body will complete the miscarriage naturally. If this happens to you, you won't usually need further treatment. The bleeding is likely to tail off in a week to 10 days and will usually have stopped after two weeks or three weeks. You'll be able to rest at home with painkillers and a hot water bottle, and, most important of all, someone to comfort and take care of you. Depending on your stage of your pregnancy and whether you are still experiencing symptoms, you should be offered a follow-up appointment.

This would be to check that your body is recovering as it should. You may also get an ultrasound to check that it has all come out. If the bleeding doesn't stop after two weeks or so, you may need extra care from hospital doctors. The bleeding may mean there is some pregnancy tissues left in your womb (uterus). This is called an incomplete miscarriage and may need treatment. Your doctors are likely to advise one of the following approaches:

  • Expectant management: the bleeding is given up to a week or more to settle, without treatment, as long as there's no sign of infection.

  • Medical management: your doctor will give you medicine to help along completion of the miscarriage.

  • Surgical management: your doctor will perform a minor operation to complete the miscarriage. Doctors/Gynecologist calls this a D&C which means Dilation and Curettage this is a procedure to remove tissue from inside your uterus.

Medical management, you will be given tablets. The bleeding after medical management can be heavy and often there is a lot of pain. But it will mean you don't have to have surgery, if it works. A D&C does not take long and you are likely to recover quickly and be out of the hospital that same day. Your doctor will carry out the procedure while you're asleep under a general anesthetic. One advantage of surgical management is that you’re bleeding usually stops not long afterwards, which will help to ease your distress. Also there is less chance you'll have to go back into hospital for further treatment. Deciding to have treatment and which option to choose is a highly personal decision. Most women will let nature take its course, even if it means they may need treatment later. Others want it to be over as soon as possible. Your doctor/gynecologist will explain all the options to you before you decide what to do. The chances of having a healthy pregnancy next time round are equally good, whichever option you choose. Unless you urgently need emergency treatment, your doctor should give you time to make your choice. To help you decide, your doctor/gynecologist will make it clear on what course of treatment is better for your health than another.

The sad fact is that early miscarriage is very common. I found this out by talking to friends and family about it. And found many people were there for me and my husband.

I am struggling to get over my miscarriage.

A loss of a baby can be tragic no matter how early in pregnancy it happens, and you will need to allow yourself a chance to recover and grieve and to know that you are not to blame. You may wish to talk to your local hospital for help. You may also wish to have a memorial for your baby. Some parents say they found this a helpful way of saying goodbye to their baby.

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