Those first few weeks of pregnancy can be an incredibly anxious time. With my first pregnancy I will be honest and admit that I was possibly more than a little naive. Whilst I knew about miscarriage and the fact that miscarriage risks were higher within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, I didn’t think for one minute that it would ever happen to me. I told my friends and family very quickly, celebrated my positive pregnancy test and even started making plans for my baby’s arrival. I was excited! When we learned we were expecting our second child, and got pregnant very quickly, I was over the moon. Unfortunately, however, my second pregnancy didn’t quite go according to plan, and I sadly experienced a miscarriage when I would have been around 8 weeks pregnant.
Whilst every pregnancy is different, and as such, the symptoms of a healthy pregnancy vary from person to person, there are some warning signs to look out for if you think you may be having a miscarriage. Here are the signs of miscarriage from my personal experience that you may want to be aware of:
Pinky discharge / fluid
For me personally, this was my first sign that something wasn’t quite right with my pregnancy. Whilst some discharge in early pregnancy is very common, my discharge started to show with a slight pinky red / tinge. As soon as I saw it when I went to the restroom I remember thinking it didn’t feel like a good sign, but tried not to panic. After a few days, this discharge turned into spotting and became brighter and more red in colour.
Not all bleeding in early pregnancy is a concern, and bleeding or spotting alone isn’t a sure sign of a miscarriage. For example, many women experience implantation bleeding or spotting at the time that their period would have been due and in other more rare scenarios, some Moms to be (like my sister) bleed all the way through their pregnancy. However, bright red spotting can be a sign of the start of a miscarriage, and if it starts to get heavier or frequent, or is accompanied by mild cramping then this should definitely be checked out with a medical professional.
Loss of pregnancy symptoms
Whilst this didn’t happen for me (I didn’t tend to experience pregnancy symptoms until a little later in my pregnancies), some women report a sudden reduction in their pregnancy symptoms, with their sickness feelings reducing in severity, and their boobs feeling less tender or sensitive to the touch.
In early pregnancy the HCg hormone doubles every 72 hours, which can often be responsible for an increase in pregnancy symptoms. When a pregnancy is experiencing complications the level of HCg being produced can tail off or reduce, bringing with it a reduction in associated symptoms. A sudden change in your symptoms may therefore be of concern, but it may also be your body adapting and coping better with pregnancy.
Pain / cramps in lower abdomen
Alongside the spotting, I also started to experience mild pain in my lower abdomen, a little like my usual period / menstrual pain. Whilst it wasn’t severe, it was a nagging pain that combined with the spotting made me question whether my pregnancy was starting to experience problems.
Early pregnancy scan
Whilst it is difficult to categorically diagnose a miscarriage in the very early stages of pregnancy, I decided to go for a private scan to see whether my pregnancy was viable. Whilst they were able to see my baby on the screen and locate a fetal pole, they did ask if there may be some confusion around my dates, as I was measuring smaller than they would have expected. They weren’t able to find a heartbeat (which again isn’t uncommon at just 8 weeks of pregnancy) but advised that my baby only appeared to be around 6 weeks gestation. I later learned that my baby had stopped growing at 6 weeks, and did sadly go on to miscarry.
What symptoms of miscarriage could be something more serious?
Whilst in many cases, symptoms of miscarriage cannot be prevented, there are some symptoms that can be signs that something more serious is occurring, such as an ectopic pregnancy where your baby is starting to develop within the fallopian tubes. More concerning symptoms include
- Extreme pain / cramps
- Feeling sick / diarrhea
- Persistent tummy pain normally on one side
- Feeling faint or light headed.
If you experience these symptoms during early pregnancy you should seek medical assistance as a matter of urgency.
Finally, it’s important to remember that a miscarriage is NOT your fault. Whilst I too was guilty of wondering “what if” and thinking what I may have done “wrong” the reality is that sadly they can happen to anyone. Miscarriages are nothing to be ashamed of and shouldn’t be a taboo subject, despite people often not knowing what to say to someone who has experienced baby loss. If you need support or advice after experiencing a miscarriage, there are a number of miscarriage and baby loss awareness and support groups that can help.