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Warning Signs of a Pending Miscarriage

author image Elizabeth Hamilton
Elizabeth Hamilton has been employed as a licensed practical nurse for more than a decade in various medical settings. She has written articles appearing on LIVESTRONG and Her vast knowledge and passion for medicine are incorporated into the articles she writes.
Warning Signs of a Pending Miscarriage
A woman laying on her bed holding her stomach in discomfort. Photo Credit: Samo Trebizan/iStock/Getty Images

A miscarriage refers to the loss of a fetus before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most miscarriages occur before the 12th week in pregnancy, as stated by the Mayo Clinic. Miscarriages generally occur from abnormalities to the fetus and certain maternal problems, although the cause can be unknown. Some miscarriages may take place as a late menstrual period, before any warning signs are evident.

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Vaginal Bleeding

Vaginal bleeding or spotting can be a warning sign for miscarriage. Heavier blood flow may also be present. The blood may appear brown or bright red. Pink or clear vaginal fluid may occur, with or without pain. Clots may be expelled vaginally and could indicate placenta or fetal tissue. The Mayo Clinic recommends saving any tissue in a clean container and bringing it to the doctor. This helps the doctor confirm that the pregnancy had occurred and that it's not located in the fallopian tube.

Abdominal Cramping

The uterus may contract while attempting to dispel fetal tissue, causing abdominal cramping. Vaginal bleeding can be present with the cramping. The more advanced the pregnancy, the more severe the cramping, according to the Merck Manual Home Edition; bleeding will also be more severe.

Flu-like Symptoms

A miscarriage resulting from an infection is called a septic miscarriage. This can happen during or after a miscarriage when the dead fetal tissue becomes infected. Flu-like symptoms may be a warning sign that an infection is present. Fever, chills and body aches occur. Some women have also experienced delirium, a rapid heart rate and a drop in blood pressure. A thick, foul-smelling vaginal discharge may be present as well.

Discontinuation of Pregnancy Symptoms

A decrease or discontinuation in pregnancy symptoms are often a warning sign that a miscarriage is pending. Breast sensitivity and morning sickness, as well as other signs of pregnancy, may be affected.

Cervical Dilation

The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends immediate medical care if there is a suspicion of miscarriage. A doctor will perform a thorough examination to distinguish any underlying cause. A physical examination including an assessment of the cervix, is necessary to determine if a miscarriage is imminent. Cervical dilation with warning signs, may indicate a miscarriage is very likely. The pregnancy may be able to continue if the cervix is closed. An ultrasound is usually done in accordance with the examination, to verify if a miscarriage has taken place. This helps the doctor to confirm the diagnosis and to evaluate any treatment options related to whether the pregnancy is sustainable or if further medical procedures are necessary, considering a miscarriage has taken place.

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