Written by Jessica Migala
If you’ve been trying for a baby, seeing that positive pregnancy test is so exciting. But as you enjoy the first weeks of pregnancy (save for bouts of nausea and extreme exhaustion), you may also have one back-of-the-mind fear: What I have a miscarriage?
Needless to say, there’s a lot of anxiety surrounding miscarriages: In one 2015 study, which surveyed men and women, researchers reported that 41 percent of women who’d miscarried felt like they did something wrong, 47 percent felt guilty, 41 percent felt alone, and 28 percent felt ashamed. Many respondents also incorrectly believed that lifting heavy objects, taking birth control pills, or enduring stress may have caused their miscarriages.
But early pregnancy loss (before 13 weeks), or miscarriage, happens in about 10 percent of known pregnancies. And half the time, it’s due to chromosomal abnormalities, which cannot be prevented—though that doesn’t make it any less of an emotional experience.
Most times, miscarriage is an isolated event—couples will often go on to have successful pregnancies and the babies they planned for. Still, if you’ve been through this experience, any twinge, bleeding, or cramping can make you fear that you’re experiencing early miscarriage symptoms. If you’re worried at all, certainly reach out to your doctor who can tell you if you need to be examined. And, just because you notice some of these signs of early miscarriage doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong either.
That said, it doesn’t hurt to be informed about potential red flags. Here are five early miscarriage symptoms you need to know about:
Once you’re pregnant, you don’t expect to start bleeding again. But take a deep breath: It may be completely normal. For one, implantation bleeding may be an initial sign that you are pregnant. “As the fertilised egg burrows or implants into the uterus, you may see some spotting,” says Kecia Gaither, an ob-gyn and maternal foetal medicine specialist. You can also experience bleeding behind the developing placenta, she says. “Red flag” bleeding is bright red, “like a period accompanied by uterine cramping,” she explains. It may also contain tissue or clots. That said, half of women who miscarry experience no bleeding.
2. PAIN AND CRAMPING
When it comes to cramping, menstrual-like cramps can be totally normal as your uterus begins to expand. Other times, cramping can be a sign of an early miscarriage. “The cramping is from the uterus contracting trying to expel the pregnancy,” says Gaither. If you notice pain — particularly with bleeding — see your doctor, she advises.
3. BACK PAIN
Just like cramping, you may also feel a lower backache that can range from mild to severe discomfort. Though, again, this can be normal in a healthy pregnancy, too. The best advice is boring, but true: Always talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your symptoms — they’re there to help you in every way they can.
4. NO SYMPTOMS
One of the scariest things for a newly pregnant mama is the worry that you’ll have a miscarriage and have no idea. It’s something called a “nonviable pregnancy,” says Gaither. (You may hear women also call it a missed miscarriage.) “It may persist for days until either the body expels it naturally or your healthcare provider intervenes medically or surgically to remove the pregnancy,” she says. You may notice that symptoms you felt before (nausea, for instance) have disappeared, though these may not go away until hormone levels have decreased.
5. A LATE PERIOD…
You’re always on time. Your period comes like clockwork. But if your period arrives a couple days late (and you’ve been having unprotected sex), you may have experienced a chemical pregnancy, which means the egg and sperm met, implanted, and your body produced the hormone HCG, but things failed to develop further. A chemical pregnancy may make up 50 to 75 percent of all miscarriages. You may have no idea that you even were pregnant in the first place.
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US