The loss of a pregnancy, whether planned or unplanned, no matter how early, can be devastating, bringing up a range of feelings and concerns. You need support, and you need clear information. As a midwife, I offer pregnancy loss support, which includes processing and planning for a loss, support during a miscarriage or abortion, and postpartum care.
How do I know if I'm no longer pregnant?
Typically, someone discovers that they're miscarrying when they no longer feel pregnant. It could mean that they stop feeling nauseated, that their breasts stop aching, and that they just don't feel pregnant anymore. This normally happens in a pregnancy around 11-13 weeks, but when it happens earlier it may be a sign that a miscarriage has occurred.
Bleeding on its own it not unusual in the first trimester, and there are different things that can cause it. Bleeding with cramping usually suggests a miscarriage. I would confirms this either by drawing your blood and looking at pregnancy hormone (hCG) levels (drawn two days apart to see if levels are falling), or through an ultrasound.
What happens during a first trimester miscarriage? How do I know it's really happening?
80% of people who miscarry will go into labor within 2-3 weeks. A person will experience cramping and heavy bleeding (soaking a pad every 30-60 minutes). It can start slow and then typically peak with the passing of the fetus, placenta, and other tissue, then rapidly resolve, very similar to labor. One to three weeks of period-like bleeding follows. The normal process of miscarriage can take under an hour or as long as 24 hours.
One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, most in the first trimester around 10 weeks, but many happen so early that the person may not realize that they're even pregnant (after 20 weeks, it's considered a stillbirth). It's important to realize that it's very common, but because loss is rarely openly discussed in the United States, it is typically a very isolating experience.