How to Recognize the Signs of a Miscarriage

signs of a miscarriage american pregnancy association

Signs and Symptoms of a Miscarriage

The two most common signs of a miscarriage are bleeding and pain or cramping, according to WebMD. The thing that makes a miscarriage so difficult to diagnose initially is the fact that both cramping and spotting can be considered normal and common in a healthy pregnancy. One key thing for a woman to watch for is bleeding and strong menstrual-type cramping that happen together.

The pain associated with a miscarriage can vary from one woman to another and even from one miscarriage to another. Sometimes the pain will be mild cramps while other times it will be strong, painful cramps. Pain might also be experienced in the lower back, or in the shoulder. Pain in the shoulder is a sign of an ectopic pregnancy and should be evaluated by a doctor immediately.


The bleeding associated with a miscarriage will vary according to how far along a woman was in her pregnancy. The bleeding may be similar to menstrual bleeding or it may be heavier and contain clots. Bleeding from a miscarriage will be red and heavy, even if it does not start out that way.

What Causes a Miscarriage?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, most miscarriages happen due to chromosomal abnormalities in the developing baby. Drugs, infections and hormonal imbalances (such as a lack of progesterone) are other contributing factors to a miscarriage. The older a woman is, the greater her chances of a miscarriage, and according to statistics on the American Pregnancy Association website, women over the age of 45 have a 50% chance of losing a pregnancy.

The risk of having a miscarriage depends on several factors, including the woman’s age. According to WebMD, additional factors that increase the risk of a miscarriage include:

  • diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • history of three or more miscarriages
  • the presence of a blood clotting disorder
  • unusual uterine structure

While doctors are unable to stop a miscarriage once it has started, it is important for any woman experiencing the signs of a miscarriage to seek medical advice. Not all threatened miscarriages end in the loss of a pregnancy, so anyone who is experiencing spotting or cramping should follow her doctor’s advice and continue to care for her body as if she was pregnant until she finds out otherwise.


How to Recognize the Signs of a Miscarriage

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