Occasionally, women who are diagnosed with a miscarriage after an episode of cramping and bleeding go on to have a healthy pregnancy. It’s called misdiagnosed miscarriage, and it happens more than you might think. What is worse is that many women are pressured to end their “doomed” pregnancy medically via D&C or other means.
Miscarriages can be misdiagnosed when the estimated date of conception is off. When the ultrasound is done, the doctor may expect to see an embryo of a certain size, but if the dates are off, the baby may not be visible yet. This may lead the doctor to believe the pregnancy is not viable. Sometimes this is diagnosed as a blighted ovum.
Another common misconception that may lead to a misdiagnosis is that HCG levels must double every 48 hours. In reality, a certain percentage of women experience a slower increase in HCG and have perfectly healthy pregnancies.
Ultrasounds can also be misread as well. Because of these factors, a miscarriage diagnosis should always be followed up with at least a second ultrasound and round of tests to confirm the miscarriage. A woman should never be rushed into getting a D&C. There is no danger in waiting for the pregnancy to end naturally if that is what is truly happening. Most women are able to miscarry naturally without surgery. As long as they are aware of the signs of infection, it is safe to wait out the diagnosis. Sometimes, a woman will wait and wait for the miscarriage, only to find out she is still pregnant weeks later.
If you experience cramping and bleeding, realize that there are many explanations for these symptoms, not just miscarriage. For example, when I was pregnant with my son a while back (he turned 1 today), I experienced bleeding early on in the pregnancy and the doctor could not find a reason for it. We were a little nervous because he was unable to detect the heartbeat with the Doppler. Fortunately we were able to see the heartbeat on the ultrasound. He diagnosed me with a sensitive cervix and put me on pelvic rest for several weeks. I did not experience any more spotting in my second and third trimesters.
Do you know someone or have you ever been diagnosed with a miscarriage, only to go on to have a healthy baby?