Miscarriage Service

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What is a miscarriage?

Most miscarriages occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The fetus, placenta, blood and waters surrounding the foetus leave the body through the vagina.   Most often something went wrong during or soon after conception, and stopped the fetus from developing normally.   Other less common causes include problems with implantation of the placenta, or a weakened cervix.    Miscarriage is usually the result of a pregnancy that has already gone wrong often weeks before bleeding naturally starts.

Determining the cause of a miscarriage can be difficult, especially by the time bleeding has started.   Most of the time an ultrasound will show the embryo has not developed normally (is small or malformed) or has already been absorbed into the body (blighted ovum).

Miscarriage usually has two outcomes:

  • Complete Miscarriage – where the pregnancy has spontaneously left the uterus and bleeding and pain settles quickly
  • Incomplete Miscarriage – where the uterus has retained some of the pregnancy tissue.   Bleeding and pain do not settle quickly and usually a surgical operation called a D&C (dilation and curettage) is done to completely empty the uterus and prevent infection.