To many women, pregnancy is one of the most exciting times in life. But it can also be one of the most frightening, especially since we know that roughly about one out of four pregnancies ends in miscarriage.
Pregnancy is a time in a woman's life that warrants a complete loss of control--over her body, her weight gain, even her ability to maintain a civilized bladder schedule. (Thank heavens for the person who invented pantyliners!) But the absolute single most difficult aspect of pregnancy can be what feels like a complete lack of control over the safety of your baby--especially when it feels like the threat of miscarriage looms over the whole 40 weeks.
The one thing you can do, however, is arm yourself with knowledge. Knowing the signs of an early miscarriage might help you to take action should a problem occur.
Cramping with spotting is the number one sign of an early miscarriage, according to New York-based Zev Williams, MD, PhD, Director of the Program for Early and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (PEARL) at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Other women often have no physical symptoms, although some simply don't feel pregnant anymore, as their pregnancy hormones start to wane--they might notice less breast tenderness or resolving nausea, for instance.
Natalie Jo Amaro had both experiences in miscarriage. She first lost a pregnancy without even knowing she was pregnant, but had textbook symptoms for her second miscarriage. "The second time I miscarried, I was about ten weeks along," said Natalie. "I had a sharp pain followed by cramps and spotting."
Unfortunately, Natalie had a third miscarriage and surprisingly, had none of the same symptoms she had felt with her earlier loss. "I had no signs whatsoever and everything seemed fine. We went to get an ultrasound at 12 weeks and found out," Natalie related. "It was traumatic."
Although cramping, spotting, and a decrease in pregnancy symptoms are the most common symptoms of a miscarriage, Dr. Williams is quick to point out that they can also be a completely normal in early pregnancy and don't guarantee that a miscarriage is threatened. Cramping and spotting can occur in the first trimester especially and many of the common pregnancy symptoms like breast tenderness and morning sickness resolve naturally around 13 weeks, without a miscarriage occurring.
Because many doctors don't see pregnant patients until the end of their first trimesters, Dr. Williams assures patients that it's always best to get in touch with their providers if they are concerned that something may be not quite right with the pregnancy.
"It's far better to call and be told that there is nothing to worry about then not to call and miss something important," asserts Dr. Williams. "Bleeding or pains early on in a pregnancy are both good reasons to call and get checked out."
If you are experiencing any pain, spotting, or cramping in your first trimester, you can take steps to minimize any strenuous activity, make sure you are well hydrated, rest if you can, but most of all, do not hesitate to hop on the phone and talk to your healthcare protector about any concerns you are having.
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