Pregnancy is a wonderful time for both you and your partner. Planning for baby and watching his fetal development is an exciting and precious experience. However, pregnancy can also be at time that is fraught with anxiety. In particular, many pregnant women worry about suffering a miscarriage. If you have noticed bleeding during the early stages of your pregnancy, you may be suffering from what is known as a threatened miscarriage. A threatened miscarriage can put your baby at risk for miscarriage. If you are displaying any of the signs and symptoms of threatened miscarriage, visit with your health care provider as soon as possible.
What is a Threatened Miscarriage?
A threatened miscarriage describes a pregnancy that may be at increased risk for experiencing a miscarriage. Any woman who experiences vaginal bleeding during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy is described as having a threatened miscarriage. Also known as a threatened spontaneous abortion, threatened miscarriages are actually quite common.
In fact, more than 30% of all pregnant women experience some type of vaginal bleeding in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and most of these women go on to experience full-term pregnancies. Threatened miscarriages most commonly occur before the 12th week of pregnancy.
What are the Symptoms of a Threatened Miscarriage?
The most common sign of a threatened miscarriage is vaginal bleeding occurring before the 20th week of pregnancy. This vaginal bleeding may vary in appearance. It might be:
- bright red
- light pink
Vaginal bleeding may also appear in the form of spotting or as a much heavier flow. Other common threatened miscarriage symptoms are:
- back pain, particularly in the lower back
- stomach cramps
What Causes a Threatened Miscarriage?
In most women, threatened miscarriage causes are never determined. However, there are a variety of factors that may be contributing to your vaginal bleeding. Vaginal bleeding is often the result of:
- uterine fibroids, polyps, or cysts
- infections, such as STDS
- cervical inflammation occurring during sex
- ectopic pregnancy
- placental complications
Diagnosing a Threatened Miscarriage
If you are experiencing any type of bleeding during your pregnancy, it is important that you visit with your health care provider. She can help to determine whether or not you are at risk for experiencing a miscarriage.
Your doctor will likely perform a pelvic exam to help check the size and shape of your uterus. She will also check to see if your cervix has dilated (widened) or effaced (thinned out). Cervical dilation and effacement are generally signs of a miscarriage.
You may also be offered a pregnancy ultrasound, particularly if you are more than eight weeks pregnant. A pregnancy ultrasound uses sound waves to help create a picture of your baby and your uterus. This can be used to monitor your babyï¿½s growth and fetal heart rate. A blood test known as the Complete Blood Count (CBC) may also be performed, to help assess exactly how much blood you have lost. This blood test counts the amount of red and white blood cells in your blood.
Treating a Threatened Miscarriage
Unfortunately, there are no medications or treatments that can stop vaginal bleeding. However, your health care provider may recommend certain courses of action:
- Wait and See: If your bleeding is minor and your baby appears healthy, your health care provider may suggest that you wait and see if there are any changes in your vaginal bleeding.
- Pelvic Rest: In order to prevent any trauma to the cervix, your health care provider may recommend pelvic rest. You will be asked to stop using tampons and douches and to abstain from sex for a specific period of time.
- Reduced Activity: You may be advised to reduce the amount of activity that you are engaging in everyday. Vigorous exercise and other rigorous activities could put you at risk for a miscarriage. Bed rest however, is no longer recommended as treatment for a threatened miscarriage.
- Progesterone: Though an uncommon treatment, you may be given progesterone to help relax your uterine muscles and reduce your risk of miscarriage.
Will a Threatened Miscarriage End in Miscarriage?
If you are diagnosed with having a threatened miscarriage, try to remain calm. Vaginal bleeding is pretty normal during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and the majority of women go on to deliver healthy and happy babies. Only 30% of women experiencing a threatened miscarriage actually lose their pregnancies. However, it is important that you are aware of the warning signs of a miscarriage. Call your health care provider as soon as possible if you experience:
- increased vaginal bleeding
- blood clots
- weakness or dizziness
- fever or chills
Preventing a Threatened Miscarriage
It is very difficult to prevent vaginal bleeding from occurring during pregnancy, however, the best way to reduce your risk is to maintain regular prenatal health appointments. This will allow you and your health care provider to remain up-to-date on any health concerns.