Excerpt from Every Womans Body
Miscarriage is the most common pregnancy loss, followed by ectopic pregnancy and stillbirth. Other common losses may be caused by a birth defect, especially one that is severe, or take the form of the death of a newborn baby. Also, some birth mothers and surrogate mothers who gave up their babies for adoption and some women who've had abortions experience loss.
A miscarriage, medically called a spontaneous abortion, is the expulsion from the womb of a foetus not yet able to survive on its own. About one-third of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, most often before a woman even knows she's pregnant.
Most miscarriages occur in the first three months of pregnancy. Only one per cent occurs after 20 weeks gestation. Women who don't experience morning sickness during pregnancy are more likely to miscarry for unknown reasons, but this may be related in part to hormonal levels. Of course, many women who don't have morning sickness do not miscarry.
Many studies report that women over the age of 35 miscarry at twice the rate of younger women. However, that rate is not the same for all women in that age group. Research usually does not distinguish between healthy women with their first or second pregnancy and those women who have chronic ill health or infertility problems and/or a history of repeated pregnancy loss.
Symptoms of a miscarriage are bleeding which progresses from light to heavy and usually cramps. The process may take one day or several days. Some women experience pain and others don't.
If you think you're having a miscarriage, contact your midwife or doctor. You'll be given an ultrasound and physical examination. If the miscarriage is complete and the uterus is clear, then no further treatment is usually required. Occasionally, the uterus is not completely evacuated and a dilation and curettage (D&C) or a more simple office procedure is performed to remove any remaining tissue.