Miscarriage (threatened)

If you are pregnant and are having abdominal pain with or without vaginal bleeding there is a chance that you are having a threatened miscarriage. Some pain or bleeding may occur in a NORMAL PREGNANCY. But pain may also be a sign of a MISCARRIAGE or an ECTOPIC PREGNANCY (baby growing in the Fallopian tube or other pelvic structures instead of the uterus). A miscarriage is the loss of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy. As many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Most of the miscarriages that occur in the first trimester of pregnancy are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the baby.

You may be having a miscarriage.

Common signs of a miscarriage are pain and bleeding. A small amount of bleeding can be normal during the first 3 months of pregnancy. Often the pain and bleeding stop, and you have a normal pregnancy and baby. But heavy bleeding or severe cramping can be an early sign of miscarriage. A miscarriage means an unexpected loss of your pregnancy.

At this time, your healthcare provider doesn’t know whether you will have a miscarriage, or if things will clear up and your pregnancy will continue normally. This can be emotionally difficult. There is little that can be done to change the way you feel. But understand that miscarriages are common.

About 1 or 2 out of every 10 pregnancies end this way. Some even end before you know you are pregnant. This happens for a number of reasons, and usually the cause is never known. It’s important you know that it is not your fault. It didn’t happen because you did anything wrong.

Having sex or exercising does not cause a miscarriage. These activities are usually safe unless you have pain or bleeding or your healthcare provider tells you to stop. Even minor falls won’t cause a miscarriage. Miscarriages happen because things were not developing as they were supposed to. No medicine can prevent a miscarriage.

Again, understand that things are uncertain right now. You may still have some bleeding. This may be light spotting or like a period, and you may pass some tissue. You may have some cramping. This is why follow-up care is important.

Home care

To improve the chance of keeping your pregnancy, you should take these steps:

  • Rest in bed until the pain and bleeding stop.
  • Don’t have sex until your healthcare provider says it’s OK.
  • Use sanitary napkins instead of tampons.
  • Don’t douche.
  • Don’t take aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.
  • Don’t have alcoholic or caffeinated beverages or smoke.

Follow-up care

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider within the next week, or as directed.

If you had an ultrasound, a radiologist will review it. You will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

Call 911

Call 911 if you have:

  • Severe pain and very heavy bleeding
  • Severe lightheadedness, passing out, or fainting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Trouble breathing
  • Confusion or trouble waking up

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Vaginal bleeding or pain that lasts for more than 3 days
  • Heavy bleeding. This means soaking 1 new pad an hour over 3 hours.
  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider
  • Pain in your lower belly (abdomen) that gets worse
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Passage of anything that resembles tissue. This would be pink or grayish membrane or solid material. Save the tissue in a clean container and bring it to your provider.