Pregnancy is such an exciting time for many women. From the first week you get that positive pregnancy test, you start dreaming of your life with that baby. Unfortunately, sometimes things do not go according to plan and you may not have a healthy pregnancy. If you feel you are going through a miscarriage or potential pregnancy loss, you are probably wondering who you should call. Do you call your regular doctor? Can you go to urgent care for miscarriage?
Pregnancy loss is not an easy topic, but it is a crucially important one to talk about. So many pregnant women end up going through a loss, yet it is not a subject of women’s health many of us know much about until we are going through it ourselves. Miscarriages can be a frightening experience, full of uncertainty and questions. Doctors do not often talk about the signs, side effects, or what to expect when going through one. Thus, understanding when and where to seek medical attention is essential. In this blog post, we will discuss the role of urgent care facilities during pregnancy loss.
This article does not give medical advice. Always check with your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns.
What to Expect During a Miscarriage
You may have heard the statistic that in the United States, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. It can be a daunting statistic. A miscarriage is medically considered a loss before 20 weeks of pregnancy. This is around 5 months of pregnancy. When most people think of a miscarriage, they think of an early miscarriage that typically occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, a miscarriage can occur during the second trimester of a pregnancy as well. In such cases, these are known as late miscarriages.
Some of the most common reasons for early pregnancy loss include chromosomal abnormalities in the developing baby, hormonal imbalances, infections, and other medical conditions of the mother. A pregnant woman may not always know what caused the loss of their baby. Regardless of if the cause is known, it is important to keep in mind that pregnancy losses are not your fault and you did nothing to cause it.
The most common signs of a miscarriage are vaginal bleeding and cramping. The bleeding can range from vaginal spotting and light bleeding to heavier bleeding. Other common symptoms of miscarriage can include low back pain, fatigue, nausea, and headaches. You may have additional symptoms other than the ones listed above. Miscarriage can affect each person differently depending on how far along you are and how your body responds to the loss.
Most women will be able to have healthy future pregnancies, even if they have been through a miscarriage. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider how long you need to wait before trying to get pregnant again.
If you are having very heavy bleeding or severe abdominal pain, it is a good idea to seek immediate medical attention. You will need to ensure you are not having an ectopic pregnancy. This type of pregnancy is where the fertilized egg implanted outside of the uterus, such as in the fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy needs immediate treatment, as it can endanger the life of the mother and cause other possible complications. These complications can include infertility, scarring of the fallopian tubes, and an increased risk of ectopic pregnancies in the future.
Types of Miscarriage
As previously mentioned, a miscarriage can occur in either the first or second trimester of a pregnancy. There are various terms you may hear about the different types of miscarriage. Here are a few of the most common:
A missed miscarriage is one in which you may not have any of the typical signs or symptoms of miscarriage. This type of miscarriage is typically discovered during a routine ultrasound with your health care provider. The pregnancy can continue to progress as a normal pregnancy would even though the baby is no longer growing.
An inevitable miscarriage is when your cervix has begun to dilate and the baby has passed out of the uterus. This type of miscarriage typically occurs after a certain amount of vaginal bleeding or cramping begins.
An incomplete miscarriage occurs when some of the pregnancy tissue is expelled, but not all of it. This type of loss can require further expectant management, including either medication or possibly even a D&C. A D&C is a surgical procedure to remove the remaining pregnancy tissue from the uterus.
A complete miscarriage occurs when all of the pregnancy tissues have been expelled from the uterus. This type of miscarriage typically resolves on its own and does not usually require any further medical treatment.
Recurrent miscarriage is defined as having three or more consecutive miscarriages. In these cases, you may need to see an infertility specialist for additional testing to see what the potential cause could be. Your doctor should be able to give you a referral to see one.
Doctors may also refer to a miscarriage as a spontaneous abortion. This term is not one that some people like to hear because it can have a negative connotation. Be sure to speak up and let your doctor know if you would prefer they use a different term when speaking with you.
No matter the type of miscarriage you are experiencing, it is important to remember that this experience will be a unique one for each person. You may have different symptoms than someone else going through a similar experience and your emotions could vary greatly as well. It can sometimes feel like an isolating journey, but please know that many other women understand what you are going through.
When Should I Go to Urgent Care for a Miscarriage?
It is important to remember that not everyone will experience a miscarriage the same way. We can all have a different experience and differing miscarriage symptoms. Whether you need to go to urgent care or emergency department will depend upon your symptoms and the severity of your situation. When looking for an emergency room, you can consider urgent care clinics, emergency departments in a hospital, or a freestanding emergency room. Each type should able to provide you with the care that you need.
If any of the following symptoms or statements apply to you, then it would be wise to seek medical care at the nearest emergency room right away:
- You have very heavy bleeding or severe cramping. Heavy blood loss usually means soaking through a pad or tampon in an hour.
- You have severe pain on one side of the lower abdomen.
- You passed any blood clots that are larger than a golf ball.
- You feel faint, weak, or dizzy.
- You have a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 Celsius).
- You have any signs of infection, such as foul-smelling vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when urinating.
It is also important to remember that you do not need to wait until the bleeding becomes heavy or cramps become severe in order to seek immediate care. If any of the symptoms mentioned above are present, it is wise to seek medical attention right away.
If the symptoms are not as severe, then it is best to start by calling your regular doctor. They can assess the situation and direct you to the best course of action. If they suggest visiting an urgent care facility, then it is important to go as soon as possible.
In either case, take a trusted friend or family member to accompany you during these moments. Having someone for emotional support can make a world of difference. Also be sure to go to all follow-up care appointments with your doctor’s office.
What Should I Expect at Urgent Care?
When you arrive at urgent care, the first step is for the hospital staff or physician to assess your condition. They will ask questions about your symptoms and medical history.
The doctor may run blood tests to check the level of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone in your blood. They may also check for your blood type and other various blood tests, depending on your particular situation.
If the doctor suspects you may be having a miscarriage, they will likely order an ultrasound to confirm your diagnosis. This could be a transvaginal ultrasound or an abdominal ultrasound, depending upon how far along you are. An ultrasound can show whether the pregnancy is progressing normally and if there is a fetal heartbeat. The physician may also perform a pelvic exam to see if there are any signs of infection or other issues in the uterus.
Sometimes, the emergency room physicians are not as gentle or comforting about issues like pregnancy loss. They are used to dealing with emergency care situations and may not have the time or resources to provide extensive emotional assistance. Social workers or nurses may be in a better position to provide some emotional support if you do not have anyone with you.
If a miscarriage is confirmed, the doctor will discuss your treatment options with you. They may suggest some medical treatments, such as medication to stop the bleeding or labor induction to remove any remaining pregnancy tissue from the uterus. If these methods do not work, then a surgical treatment may be recommended in order to complete the miscarriage.
The doctor may also inform you about any follow-up appointments required and answer any questions or concerns. Your regular doctor may do follow up pregnancy tests to ensure your HCG hormone levels are going back down to zero. The miscarriage is not complete until these levels come back down. Always be sure to follow all directions given to you for follow-up care.
In conclusion, dealing with the loss of a baby is a physically and emotionally challenging experience. It is important to remember that you will need to take care of yourself physically while also going through the grieving process. Your symptoms, severity of the situation, and individual health will determine whether you need to visit an urgent care facility or your regular doctor. Always prioritize your health and do not hesitate to seek immediate medical attention if you experience any severe symptoms or feel that something is off. Additionally, it is crucial to have a support system during these times, be it through a support group, a trusted friend, or a family member. Remember, the loss of a pregnancy is hard no matter how far along you are. Give yourself some grace as you begin the healing process.
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