There’s a confusing range of terms and circumstances when the word “miscarriage” is used:
- Threatened miscarriage is where there are mild symptoms of bleeding, usually with little or no pain, and the cervical os is closed. A scan will generally show irregular shaped hypo-echogenic areas behind the gestational sac and the risk of a miscarriage is between 4-33%, depending on the gestational age
- Inevitable miscarriage involves heavy bleeding with clots and pain, the cervical os is open, and the bleeding may cause the woman to collapse and the loss of the baby is inevitable
- Missed miscarriage is a situation where the fetus has died but it’s still retained, and pregnancy tests will remain positive for several days. The symptoms of pregnancy may have decreased or gone and there may be a persistent dirty, brown discharge, it requires an ultrasound scan that will a lack of fetal heart beat
- Incomplete miscarriage is when the fetus has died and it may have been expelled, but “the retained products of conception” of either the amniotic sac or placenta remain in the womb
- Recurrent miscarriage is when a couple experience the consecutive loss of three or more pregnancies
This article covers the treatment of ‘missed’ and ‘incomplete’ miscarriage and how to support following a miscarriage. For legal reasons treatment pf ‘missed’ and ‘incomplete’ miscarriage should ONLY be undertaken with a written diagnosis of fetal death, and the treatment of a potential miscarriage has a large section of its own.