Signs Of Miscarriage? When To Call The Doctor

Find out when you should consult your OB/GYN.

Signs of Miscarriage

    woman with stomach pain PhotoAlto Photography/Veer

    With so many symptoms of miscarriage overlapping with "normal" symptoms of pregnancy, like light spotting and cramping, how can you know when it's time to call your doctor?

    The most important thing that doctors want their patients know is, "we don't want anyone to feel anxious," says Dr. Joshua Hurwitz, a board-certified OB/GYN and infertility specialist. "Miscarriage is such an emotionally charged circumstance for a woman and we always counsel patients to please call if they have any misgivings whatsoever."

    Typically, Dr. Hurwitz and his associates see three types of circumstances that warrant phone calls from their patients when it comes to miscarriage:

      1. Bleeding

      "We take bleeding very seriously," explains Dr. Hurwitz. "That being said, however, it doesn't mean that every time you bleed, you're having a miscarriage. While a lot of bleeding in pregnancy is benign and doesn't signify a miscarriage, we bring a lot of women in for reassurance."

      The first step, according to Dr. Hurwitz, for women who are experiencing any type of bleeding during their pregnancy is to assess their bleeding before making a call. "Ask yourself what kind of bleeding it is," he states. "Is it one drop of oldish, brown blood or are you filling up pads with bright red, period-like bleeding? Those are the types of questions we will be asking to help you figure out what's going on."

      If the bleeding occurs in the middle of the night, Dr. Hurwitz advises women to call the emergency line at their provider's practice so that they can be routed to the proper level of care, whether that be a trip to the emergency room or waiting to be seen until the next morning.

        2. Cramping

        "Like with bleeding, women can have some cramping that is normal with pregnancy," explains Dr. Hurwitz. "Her body is not her own--her uterus is taking over and stretching out, so it is normal that she may not feel completely like herself." The things to worry about, however, he points out, would be cramping that feels like strong menstrual cramps across the belly combined with "bright red bleeding" that soaks through menstrual pads.

          3. A Mother's Intuition

          Dr. Hurwitz describes that many of the calls he receives from patients have simply to do with a patient's feelings about her pregnancy. "She might say, 'I don't feel pregnant anymore,' or "I used to have nausea and now I'm so worried.'"

          In those cases, Dr. Hurwitz states his explanation is simple. "We always reassure people that basic pregnancy symptoms, like morning sickness, are not usually an indicator of the pregnancy's wellbeing either way."

          That being said, however, Dr. Hurwitz trusts his pregnant patients' intuition. "Patients know their bodies, so if they tell me something, I listen," he says simply.

          And sometimes, women do just know. Jenifer Lamoureux, a Michigan mother who has experienced five miscarriages, explains that she "just kind of felt wrong" before each loss. "I started cramping and bleeding, and then it escalated within minutes," remembers Jenifer.

          If you are experiencing any symptoms or questioning if you are at risk for a miscarriage, Dr. Hurwitz advises women to ask to speak to a nurse when calling the office. A simple, "I'd like to speak to a nurse about some symptoms I'm having," is an effective way to quickly speak to someone who can help.

          And one final piece of advice from Dr. Hurwitz? "Always remember, there's no reason not to call."

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