Conception, Pregnancy and Postpartum Issues | OB-GYN


Conception, Pregnancy and Postpartum Issues

At UC Davis Health, we offer a high level of specialized care when you have issues before, during and after pregnancy. We provide diagnosis, treatment and support options personalized just for you.

Medically reviewed by Melissa Chen, M.D. on Aug. 17, 2023.

Pregnant woman keeping hand on belly and holding ultrasound image at home.

What Are Conception, Pregnancy and Postpartum Issues?

Conception, pregnancy and postpartum issues are very common. About 10-20% of pregnancies end with a miscarriage in the first trimester (early miscarriage), while 2-3% end with a second-trimester miscarriage. A pregnancy loss can be a difficult and upsetting experience whenever it occurs.

At the UC Davis Health Early Pregnancy and Miscarriage Center, our experienced obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYNs) specialize in pregnancy issues such as miscarriage. We offer comprehensive care and support to you and your family during these trying times.


Symptoms of Miscarriage

You may not be aware that you’re having a miscarriage, especially early in pregnancy. The most common symptom of miscarriage is bleeding, though bleeding during pregnancy doesn’t always mean a pregnancy loss.

Common Symptoms

Other symptoms of miscarriage may include:

  • Abdominal cramping or pain
  • Decrease in pregnancy symptoms
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Gush of fluid from your vagina
  • Low back ache
  • Passage of tissue through your vagina

Emergency Symptoms

See your provider or go to the emergency room as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Severe cramping pain

Causes of Miscarriage

About half of miscarriages in the first trimester occur due to abnormalities in the cells that carry genes (chromosomes). Researchers don’t know why chromosomal abnormalities occur. Other factors that may cause miscarriage include:


Some infections, such as gonorrhea and listeriosis, can lead to miscarriage.

Hormonal Issues

Problems such as uncontrolled diabetes and luteal phase defect may cause miscarriage.


Risk Factors for Miscarriage

Your chances of miscarriage may be higher if you have one or more of these risk factors:


You have a higher risk of miscarriage if you are older than 35.

Chronic Conditions

You have an increased miscarriage risk if you have a chronic condition such as autoimmune disease, uncontrolled diabetes or thyroid disease.

Prenatal Tests

Some prenatal tests, such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, slightly raise the risk of miscarriage.

Previous Miscarriages

Having two or more previous miscarriages increases your risk of having more.

Smoking, Illicit Drugs and Alcohol

Smoking, using illicit drugs and heavy alcohol use may increase miscarriage risk.

Uterine or Cervical Issues

Having uterine abnormalities or a cervix that opens early in pregnancy (incompetent cervix) raises your chances of miscarriage.


Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher increases your risk.


Diagnosing Miscarriage

We will do an ultrasound to help diagnose a miscarriage. We look to see if the embryo is developing as expected. We may also do blood tests to check your levels of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).

Miscarriage Treatments at UC Davis Health

At UC Davis Health, we work with you to come up with the best options after a miscarriage. We will provide you with all the pros and cons of each treatment so you can decide which makes the most sense for you. Treatments that we offer include:

Expectant Management

You may choose to let the miscarriage progress on its own. With this option, there is no way to predict how long it may take for your pregnancy to pass.

Medical Management

You take mifepristone, a medication taken by mouth, and misoprostol, a medication inserted into your vagina, to help expel pregnancy tissue. This treatment usually works within 24 hours.

Surgical Treatment

We can dilate your cervix and gently suction out the tissue. This is known as dilation and curettage, or D&C, a first-trimester procedure; or dilation and evacuation, or D&E, a second-trimester procedure. These are done either while you’re awake in our office or under sedation in the operating room.


Preventing Miscarriage

You usually can’t do anything specific to prevent a miscarriage. But staying healthy before pregnancy can help to lower your risk of complications. Some steps you can take include:

Don’t Drink Alcohol or Smoke

Avoiding alcohol and tobacco can help reduce your miscarriage risk.

Follow a Healthy Eating Plan

Eating a well-balanced diet can help keep you and your baby healthy.

Get Regular Exercise

Keeping up a regular fitness routine can reduce stress and promote good health.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Having a body mass index (BMI) under 30 can reduce your risk of miscarriage.

Take a Prenatal Vitamin

Get the nutrients you need to keep your baby healthy, including folic acid to prevent birth defects.

As many as

26%Of pregnancies end in miscarriage

Miscarriages occur

80%Of the time in the first trimester

Source: National Library of Medicine. Miscarriage.

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