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A Complete Guide to Miscarriage: How to Support a Grieving Mother

Medically reviewed by Rubilyn Saldana-Santiago, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jul 26, 2022

A Complete Guide to Miscarriage: How to Support a Grieving Mother

One of the most difficult things a parent would have to face would be grieving the loss of their unborn child. Miscarriages affect many couples worldwide, so it’s important to find the right support. And so here is a guide to miscarriage to make the journey somewhat easier.

What is a miscarriage?

Miscarriage is an incident that marks the end of a pregnancy that ends on its own. It happens within the first 20 weeks of gestation.

A study showed that about 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Unfortunately, the truth is that the actual number is probably much higher than what is on record. In many cases, miscarriages occur too early for a woman to even realize she’s pregnant.

What are the symptoms of a miscarriage?

Signs of a miscarriage might include:

  • Increasing bleeding – Generally starting from light and then progressing to a heavy one. 
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Severe cramps or abdominal pain
  • Fluid or tissue passing from your vagina
  • The overall weakness in the body
  • High fever along with all the above sufferings

Note that bleeding in the first trimester doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a miscarriage. It is always advisable to consult your doctor if you start experiencing any of the above signs and symptoms.

What causes miscarriage? 

A miscarriage often happens due to:

  • Abnormal genes or chromosomes
  • Maternal health conditions (The expectant mother is suffering from certain health disorders like uncontrolled diabetes, infections, hormonal problems, uterus or cervix problems, or thyroid disease.)
  • Improper implantation of the egg into the uterine lining

Most miscarriages are believed to happen due to chromosomal abnormality – which means that there’s something wrong with the baby’s chromosomes.

These chromosomes are caused due to errors which may occur by chance when the embryo divides and grows. It prevents a baby from its normal growth and development. These aren’t related to the mother’s genetic problems. 

What are the risk factors that increase the chances of miscarriage?

Various factors can increase a woman’s risk of going through a miscarriage. The risk is higher in women who:

  • Are over 35 years of age 
  • Have had two or more consecutive miscarriages
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs during pregnancy
  • Are underweight or overweight
  • Have some invasive prenatal genetic tests, such as chorionic villus sampling, and amniocentesis

How to diagnose miscarriage?

There are multiple tests to be conducted in order to detect a miscarriage. 

Doctors generally perform a pelvic exam in order to check if your cervix has started to dilate. When it stops bleeding, you shall be able to continue with your routine activities.

If the cervix is dilated, you may have an incompetent cervix. In such a situation, a procedure needs to be performed to close the cervix – which is known as a cerclage, if the pregnancy is still applicable.

An ultrasound test is typically conducted if the symptoms of miscarriage are observed. It helps in determining if the pregnancy is intact and if there’s any fetal heartbeat. 

Blood tests are undertaken to determine the level of the pregnancy hormone – HCG in your blood to evaluate the progress of the miscarriage, check anemia possibility, and your blood type.

If you have passed fetal tissue from your vagina, you must bring it to the hospital for analysis through the tissue tests.

If you have undergone 2 or more miscarriages in the past, you and your partner both need to go through chromosomal tests.

After completing these tests, your condition may fall into one of these categories:

  • It’s a threatened miscarriage when you have bleeding but your cervix hasn’t begun to dilate. When you’re bleeding, cramping and your cervix has dilated already, miscarriage becomes inevitable. Your miscarriage remains incomplete when you have passed the fetus but some parts are still there in your uterus. 
  • It’s a missed miscarriage when the fetus is dead but the placental and embryonic tissues remain in the uterus. And when the embryo has completely emptied out of the uterus, it’s a complete miscarriage. If your uterus develops an infection, it falls under the septic miscarriage category. 

What are the treatments for miscarriage?

Based on which condition you are dealing with, doctors can give you the respective treatment. Available options include:

If you are diagnosed with no infection, your doctor will advise you to let the miscarriage progress naturally. If the expulsion doesn’t occur by itself, medical or surgical treatments will be required. This treatment is usually referred to as the expected management approach.

When you want the expelling process to happen faster, you can take medications.  Your doctor might recommend inserting the medication vaginally because of the effectiveness and the lesser chance of side effects. Most women can pass the fetus completely within 24 hours of medical treatment.

If you have a miscarriage along with heavy bleeding or an infection, surgical treatment is the best choice. Your doctor will dilate your cervix and remove the tissue from your uterus.

This procedure is called dilation & curettage, or what is locally known as raspa. Learn more about it in the article below.

It is an emotionally difficult time. Both parents need a lot of emotional support as well other than medical treatment. The emotional healing would take time, but with a little bit of love, care, and attention it can help the couple cope faster and not lose hope for building their future family. 


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Rubilyn Saldana-Santiago, MD


Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jul 26, 2022

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