A miscarriage is the loss of a baby during pregnancy, any time from the date of a missed period up until 24 weeks of pregnancy. Miscarriages are the most common form of pregnancy loss. Around 1 in 5 pregnancies are known to end in miscarriage, but in reality this figure is thought to be much higher because a miscarriage will often occur before a woman realises that she is pregnant.
In most cases, the main symptom of a miscarriage will be vaginal bleeding, possibly accompanied by cramping. Hospital will usually confirm a miscarriage by use of an ultrasound scan.
There are 3 types of treatment following a miscarriage. Surgical treatment, where minor surgery is used to remove any remaining tissue in the womb. Medical treatment, where medication is used to remove the tissue, or Expectant treatment, where you wait for the tissue to pass naturally out of your womb.
A missed miscarriage occurs when the baby has died, but there have been no symptoms, such as bleeding, and no loss of tissue straight away. A missed miscarriage is often discovered at a routine scan.
Most miscarriages occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, but many do also occur much later than that, up to 24 weeks into pregnancy. A late miscarriage happens between 14 and 24 weeks, and in this situation the woman will have to go through labour and delivery.
Recurrent Miscarriage is when a woman has 3 or more miscarriages. When recurrent miscarriage is diagnosed the woman will usually be offered testing to try and discover the reason for the losses.
A miscarriage can be an extremely isolating loss, because often the parents were the only people who felt they knew their baby. There is often no bump yet, nothing tangible for others to really identify with that has been lost. The parents will grieve the baby they already loved, and in many cases will feel pushed to return to normal and to ‘get on with life’. So much is left unknown, particularly with the case of an early miscarriage where parents did not even get to find out if they were having a boy or a girl. In the case of a late miscarriage, labour and delivery is extremely traumatic for the family, and they can feel that their loss being labelled a miscarriage means that what they have gone through is misunderstood.