Threatened Miscarriage

What is a threatened miscarriage?

A threatened miscarriage occurs when you have vaginal bleeding within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. It suggests that a miscarriage may happen. Miscarriages that occur during the first 3 months of pregnancy are usually due to a problem in the way the baby develops. Many women who have vaginal bleeding or spotting during early pregnancy go on to have healthy babies.

What causes bleeding or spotting during pregnancy?

Caregivers may never know what caused your bleeding. The following are some of the more common reasons you may have vaginal bleeding during pregnancy:

  • Uterine polyps, fibroids, or cysts

  • Sexual intercourse

  • Infection

  • Your cervix (the opening at the bottom of your uterus) opened too soon

  • Where or how the placenta is attached to your uterus (womb)

  • A problem with your fetus (unborn baby)

  • Ectopic pregnancy (the fetus is growing outside of the uterus)

What are the signs and symptoms of a threatened miscarriage?

  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding

  • Pain or cramping in your abdomen or low back

How is a threatened miscarriage diagnosed?

  • Blood tests: Your blood is tested to find the cause of your bleeding.

  • Pelvic exam: This is done to check the size of your uterus and to see if your cervix has dilated (opened).

  • Pelvic ultrasound: This is done to see your baby or his heartbeat.

How is a threatened miscarriage treated?

There is no sure way to prevent a miscarriage. The following may help you manage your symptoms:

  • Rest: You may need to rest, limit certain activities, or not have sex until your symptoms are better.

  • Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain. You can buy acetaminophen without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use medicine containing ibuprofen. Ibuprofen can increase your risk of miscarriage.

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have trouble urinating, burning when you urinate, or feel a need to urinate often.

  • You have new or worsening vaginal bleeding.

  • You have vaginal pain or itching, or vaginal discharge that is yellow, green, or foul-smelling.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You feel weak or faint.

  • You have worsening cramping in your abdomen or lower back, or pain in your shoulder.

  • You have vaginal bleeding that soaks a sanitary pad every hour for 3 hours in a row.

  • You pass material that looks like tissue or large clots. Collect the material and bring it with you.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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