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Threatened Miscarriage: Care Instructions

Picture of the female reproductive system


Some women have light spotting or bleeding during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. In some cases this is normal. Light spotting or bleeding can also be a sign of a possible loss of the pregnancy. This is called a threatened miscarriage. At this point, the doctor or midwife may not be able to tell if your vaginal bleeding is normal or is a sign of a miscarriage.

In early pregnancy, things such as stress, exercise, and sex do not cause miscarriage. You may be worried or upset about the possibility of losing your pregnancy. But do not blame yourself. There is no treatment to stop a miscarriage. If you do have a miscarriage, there was nothing you could have done to prevent it. A miscarriage usually means that the pregnancy is not developing normally.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for cramps. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor or midwife told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Do not have sex until your doctor or midwife says it is okay.
  • Get lots of rest over the next several days.
  • You may do your normal activities if you feel well enough to do them. But do not do any heavy exercise until your doctor or midwife says it is okay.
  • Eat a balanced diet that is high in iron and vitamin C. Foods rich in iron include red meat, shellfish, eggs, beans, and leafy green vegetables. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, and broccoli. Talk to your doctor or midwife about whether you need to take iron pills or a multivitamin.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use tobacco or illegal drugs.
  • Do not smoke. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor or midwife about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have sudden, severe pain in your belly or pelvis.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe vaginal bleeding.

Call your doctor, midwife, or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have new or increased pain in your belly or pelvis.
  • Your vaginal bleeding is getting worse.
  • You have increased pain in the vaginal area.
  • You have a fever.
  • You think you may have passed tissue. Save any tissue that you pass. Take it to your doctor or midwife's office as soon as you can.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor, midwife, or nurse call line if:

  • You have new or worse vaginal discharge.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.