Miscarriage Facts

Issue No. 4: Black maternal health
words - Diana McDonnell: MSN, APRN, AGNP-CP

What is miscarriage?

Miscarriage is when a fetus or embryo dies before the 20th week of pregnancy. A reported 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages, though they are likely even more common because many people experience miscarriages before they ever know they are pregnant.


Frequent causes of miscarriage:

  • Chromosomal or genetic abnormality in the embryo

  • Serious illness or infection

  • Traumatic injury

Your risk of miscarriage is higher if you:

  • Are over 35

  • Have hypertension, diabetes, or a thyroid disorder

  • Have had a miscarriage before

  • Smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs during pregnancy

If you experience either of these symptoms associated with miscarriage, please consult a medical professional:

  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding

  • Pelvic pain or abdominal cramping

If bleeding increases or you develop a fever, seek medical attention immediately, as these can be signs of infection.

What to expect when seeking medical care:

  • Interview with health care provider to discuss medical history and symptoms

  • Ultrasound for fetal heart rate

  • Standard pelvic exam to assess bleeding

  • Exam for signs of infection, including fever, elevated heart rate, low blood pressure, and lower abdominal tenderness

  • Pelvic ultrasound: transducer device placed inside the vagina in order to visualize the internal organs

  • Procedure to remove embryo/fetus. A D&C is a common procedure to remove tissue from the uterus. It may involve regional or general anaesthesia and is typically an outpatient procedure.

When a miscarriage occurs, individuals may not have shared that they were pregnant, which can make it feel like they have to grieve alone. Additionally, there can be pressure to get over the loss quickly as though it is not significant enough to be grieved. If you experience a miscarriage, allow yourself to grieve and reach out to your support system. You may also feel less isolated if you connect with other people who have experienced pregnancy loss.

@ihadamiscarriage on Instagram may be a good place to start to realize that you aren’t alone in this grief.