1. The thought of miscarriage is always frightening, and a little information can cause much needless worry. Very often, a brief description of a pregnancy complication in a book or on the Internet turns out to be more upsetting than useful. Although second-trimester losses do occur, they are unusual, and they are very often related to an already known problem with the pregnancy.

    One possible cause of late miscarriage is preterm labor. The symptoms of preterm labor can be subtle, since the cervix can dilate, or open, and efface, or thin, with or without painful uterine contractions. But usually, these cervical changes are accompanied by frequent, rhythmic uterine contractions that feel like menstrual cramps or are more painful. Any such contractions before your 37th week of pregnancy should be reported to your practitioner. Feeling pressure from your growing uterus is quite normal.

    After about 30 weeks, so are mild contractions, called Braxton-Hicks. You may also feel your uterine (round) ligaments stretching, or you may notice some fetal movement that seems different, or “tight.” These normal feelings are sometimes mistaken for labor contractions. Try not to worry about every new sensation during pregnancy. If you are concerned, talk with your doctor or midwife. He or she is a far better source of information and reassurance than your next-door neighbor or the woman in front of you in the grocery line.

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Ask Tori RN®, by registered nurse and resident author of The Joy of Pregnancy, is a helpful and reassuring resource for parents-to-be.