Complications of Pregnancy - Miscarriage

When the body rejects the embryo or developing fetus for whatever reason, this is considered a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion . There are numerous reasons why a miscarriage may take place. A shift in hormone level, a defect in the embryo, or another factor that interferes with the normal development of the fetus.

Early Miscarriage

Occurring in the first trimester of pregnancy, early miscarriage may be as frequent as one in ten pregnancies. Many miscarriages go undetected because the woman may not realize she has conceived and the body sheds the developing egg before any signs of pregnancy occur. In most of these miscarriages, it is believed that the egg would not have survived to delivery because of physiological defects. Other reasons may include inadequate hormonal development of the uterine lining and a faulty immune reaction to the embryo.


Symptoms of early miscarriage include cramps from the uterine area, not unlike menstrual cramps. This is caused by the uterine contractions that force the lining to be shed. Heavy bleeding accompanies or follows the cramping when the lining is expelled. The bleeding may also be present without accompanying pain. Light bleeding that persists for a few days or more can also signal an impending spontaneous abortion. With any of these symptoms, the attending physician should be contacted immediately. Upon examination the doctor will determine if the cervix has become dilated—a sign of miscarriage. The physician will guide you through treatment that follows a miscarriage, or will help to arrest the symptoms if a miscarriage has not yet taken place.

Late Miscarriage

Occurring during the second or early third trimester, late miscarriages are physically more difficult to endure. (Psychologically both early and late miscarriages can be difficult if the woman has prepared for the upcoming baby.) Late miscarriages can be caused by trauma, insufficient uterine or cervical capability, or exposure to chemical or drug substances that trigger a miscarriage.


Bleeding, a pink discharge, a brown discharge, or cramping may precede a late term miscarriage. Some women will experience uterine contractions and spotting without it signaling difficulty with the pregnancy. However, any changes in the mother's condition or any experience of the symptoms above should be discussed with the attending physician immediately.

The mother will be examined by the attending medical person to see if the cervix has begun to dilate. If a miscarriage has begun, several steps may be used to prevent it continuing. Continual bed rest, hospitalization, and surgery are just a few of the possible remedies, depending on the reasons for the threat of miscarriage. If the miscarriage does occur, the doctor will try to determine the reasons for it to prevent a reoccurrence in subsequent pregnancies.

Late miscarriages will follow the stages of labor in some women, once miscarriage has become inevitable. The woman will have to expel the fetus and the uterine lining, along with the placenta. A dilatation and curettage (D & C) may be required to clean the uterus after a miscarriage to ensure that no infection sets in. Once the doctor determines that the uterus is sound, and that the reason for miscarriage has been remedied (if possible) then a new pregnancy may begin.

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