About 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. This can be a very emotional experience for a woman and her partner, and it is important to recognize the genuine pain and loss of this experience (no matter how early in the pregnancy this may have occurred).
Please know that this is not your fault. Sadness and confusion are natural responses to this loss, and there are resources to support your healing. If you have experienced a miscarriage, we encourage you to check out Through the Heart for resources and support.
Contact your health provider immediately if you are experiencing any of the below-listed signs.
What is a miscarriage?
Early miscarriage most often occurs in the first 3 months of pregnancy (about 12 weeks), and it is the most common type of miscarriage. Late miscarriage (or late term miscarriage) may occur between 16 and 24 weeks. A stillborn is a child that is lost after 24 weeks.
Please note: Miscarriage is not the same as an abortion (explained here).
Signs of Miscarriage
- Vaginal bleeding: Light, heavy, constant, or irregular
- Pain: Pelvic cramps, belly pain, or dull aching pain in the lower back
- Passing of blood clots or tissue
These symptoms may also occur alongside signs of fever, weakness, or fatigue.
- Mother’s age: 35 or older
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals (e.g.
Tetrachloroethylene, arsenic, lead, formaldehyde, benzene, ethylene oxide)
- Lifestyle choices (e.g. Alcohol or drug use, excessive caffeine intake, cigarette smoking)
- Father’s age: 35 or older
- Trauma (e.g. car accident or other serious physical injury)
If your medical history includes any of the following, you may be at an increased risk for miscarriage:
- 3 or more previous miscarriages
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Exposure to or use of certain medicines (e.g. acne medications that include isotretinoin)
- Certain bacterial or viral infections during pregnancy
- Problems with the structure of your uterus
Please remember that most miscarriages are naturally occurring. We encourage you to talk to your doctor about ways to stay healthy and safe during your pregnancy. For more information on pregnancy health, please see our page: Pregnancy Health.
During a miscarriage…
- You have the right to another ultrasound to confirm beyond any doubt that your baby has passed.
- You have the right to request a copy of the picture.
- You have the right to a funeral for your baby.
- You have the right to bury your baby.
- If the baby’s body passes in the hospital or the remains removed via a D&C, you have the right to your baby’s remains. Be aware that in some states there may be laws governing how his or her body is released.
- You have the right to ask to be tested for progesterone levels and an immediate prescription for supplements if there is a chance it could save your baby.
- You have the right to know all the short-term and long-term risks of a D&C procedure. For some women, a D&C may be the smartest option however women deserve to know that it has the risk of causing infertility or compromising a future pregnancy, weakening the cervix resulting in a future premature birth, or complicating a future birth because of scar tissue.
- You have the right to refuse a vaginal exam. If baby is still alive, it can increase the risk of a membrane rupture and preterm labor, compromising the life of the baby. They also carry the risk of infection to the mother.
- You have the right to have the father, a doula, and/or other support person present during any medical exams or treatment.
- You have the right to hold your baby’s body and not be rushed.
- You have the right to choose some sort of pain relief.
- You have the right to take personal time from work.
- You have the right to say no.
- You have the right to choose to do nothing.
- You have the right to opt to deliver the baby’s body at home.
- You have the right to ask questions.
- You have the right to trust your instincts.
- You have the right to not have any concerns dismissed.
- You have the right to be treated with respect and dignity and at any point you have the right to change providers or ask for a new staff member.
- You have the right to name your baby, grieve your baby, and talk (or not) about your baby.
For the original post, please go to: “Your Rights During Miscarriage.”
Please note that miscarriage is also addressed under Title IX in that you cannot be discriminated against for suffering this loss. If you need time to medically recover from your miscarriage, you may be allowed excused absences or certain accommodations. (This is not guaranteed, but a possibility.) You can ask your school’s Title IX Coordinator if any rights and accommodations are allowed for your situation.
Coping with the Grief of Loss
Women and their partners are emotionally impacted by a miscarriage, and each may cope with the loss in a different way. You may feel sad, shocked, overwhelmed, angry, guilty, or any number of emotions. Your grief may also make you feel physically exhausted, irritable, distracted, etc. Know that you are not alone in this experience. We recognize that your pain and loss are real and that you deserve to be cared for as you heal.
BabyCentre offers 8 suggestions as you recover:
- Accept your feelings, whatever they are.
- Give yourself time.
- Take time off (from work or school).
- Understand that your partner may not grieve in the same way.
- Be prepared for difficulties in your relationship.
- Talk to other people.
- Understand why some friends and colleagues may stay away.
- Get support.
For more details on these suggestions, please go to: “Understanding Grief After a Loss”
Through the Heart
916 Prince Street, Suite 105, Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (202) 549-8720
“Through the Heart provides Comfort Kits free of charge to individuals or couples who have recently suffered a pregnancy loss. Each kit comes full of items to pamper you including personal care items, sweet and savory snacks, and a Redbox movie rental code. Information about our organization and a handwritten note from our co-founder are also included to add a personal touch. While nothing can take away the pain of a loss, it is our hope that this kit will provide some distraction during a difficult time and provide resources to begin healing.” Read more here: http://www.throughtheheart.org/about/