Missed Miscarriage or Misdiagnosis? No Heartbeat at 10 Weeks 126

I was told at 10 weeks that my baby had no heartbeat and had stopped growing at 8 weeks. It was just a routine dating ultrasound. I’d had no bleeding, no cramping, and no indication that anything was wrong. I suffered from a missed miscarriage. As a mother of three healthy boys with no previous history of miscarriage, this was a new experience for me and one I found would have been far easier on me had I known what to expect. I’ve chosen to share my story from start to finish in a series of short articles so that other women who face what our family did are more prepared. You’ll find my story enhanced with research as well as information gleaned from talking to other women who have had miscarriages and healthcare professionals I met through the process to help answer questions you may find yourself asking. missed miscarriage

Article one will deal with whether or not missed miscarriages or miscarriages in general can be misdiagnosed, whether or not you should get a second opinion, and if so, when.

When I was first told I’d had a missed miscarriage, the doctor was very brusque. The ultrasound was very short and my options were shorter. I could have a D&C (Dilation and Curettage) or wait it out naturally. I didn’t believe him. I left that office 100 percent sure he was an incompetent hack. I spent the next week reading stories of people that were told they’d had a missed miscarriage and had everything turn out OK. One minute I was sure my baby was fine, the next I was in tears because I knew she/he wasn’t. It was the longest week of my life.

Is it possible for a miscarriage or missed miscarriage misdiagnosis to happen?

Yes, based on forum responses from women on misdiagnosedmiscarriage.com and personal interviews with women who preferred to remain anonymous, misdiagnosed miscarriages are most common in early pregnancy.

Your chances of a missed miscarriage misdiagnosis may be higher if:

-You are 6 weeks pregnant or less. The further along you are after the 6 week point, the lower the chance of miscarriage misdiagnosis.

-Your ultrasound was not done vaginally. Vaginal ultrasounds are far more accurate in early pregnancy.

-A fetal pole was not seen. This may indicate your due dates are off or you may have a tilted uterus. It appeared to be more common for no fetal pole to be seen and a baby to be found later, than a baby with no heartbeat to later have one.

If a baby is seen measuring 8 weeks or larger with no heartbeat, the chances are quite slim that you had a misdiagnosed miscarriage. If you’re looking for hope, I know that’s not what you want to hear, but I found false hope made my week of waiting far longer. In my case, I was wrong, my doctor was right, and I did have a missed miscarriage, but I’m still glad I got a second opinion. Most of the women I spoke to felt better about things if they got a second opinion or wished they had if they didn’t. It offers that certainty that keeps you from wondering if you’re doing the right thing if you opt for a D&C or struggling with the idea your baby may be alive if you decide to wait it out for a natural loss.

How long should I wait before I get a second opinion about a missed miscarriage?

I know your first instinct is to run straight to another doctor, clinic or the ER to get a second opinion right now, but the general guideline is to wait at least one week. If you get a second opinion right away, yes you’re getting a new machine and new person reading that machine, but if your due date is incorrect or your baby is developing slowly due to other circumstances, it’s possible you’ll still get a misdiagnosis. Many women who get ultrasounds around 6 weeks find no heartbeat and later find one. Your baby’s heart begins to beat around 6 weeks. If your due date is even a few days off, you could be misdiagnosed with a missed miscarriage.

What about HCG blood levels to catch a missed miscarriage misdiagnosis?

I declined HCG blood testing for the most part. I didn’t want one more thing to stress over. Why? HCG is supposed to double every 48 hours in early pregnancy before peaking around week 10 and then it begins to decline. Note the word, “supposed.” It is not uncommon for women to have non-doubling HCG levels and have perfectly healthy pregnancies. If your due date is off, your levels could already be dropping. If your baby passed recently, your levels may not have begun to drop off and could remain high for weeks. There are so many things that make HCG levels irrelevant; it’s really just information that’s going to make you worry more. What you do need to know is that your levels return to zero if you do indeed miscarry, meaning a blood test after your loss, if it happens, is recommended.

Article two covers handling the grief of a miscarriage. I hope that this article helps those who are facing a possible missed miscarriage and a sincerely hope you have no need to read article two.

You may also find useful:
3 Ways You Can Be Pregnant and Still Have a Period

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126 thoughts on “Missed Miscarriage or Misdiagnosis? No Heartbeat at 10 Weeks

  • Anonymous

    I am having such a hard time dealing with this ! It’s comforting to read your article, since I too was told that I had a misses miscarriage and have truly been struggling with accepting it. I have experience two months of bleeding and/or brown .. blood or discharge – I am really unsure. I keep finding myself holding on to false help, and I never went back to the doctor out of frustration. I just knew that I was further along than what the doctor had told me, and based on my last period I should have been. I did lose the pain in my breasts, but I still feel as though my stomach is larger than normal, and lack of eating still affects me the same way it did when I was pregnant. I never received an expected date of delivery because the sonographer could not see anything. I should have been 9 weeks based on my last period. By my last visit, the sonographer apparently noted that she did not find a heartbeat but that the sac measured to be about 6 weeks. I have literally been struggling as I have 3 friends that are currently pregnant and will be expecting around the time that I was due. I just want to know if there is any hope – any way to figure out how to get my body back to normal. I am almost desperate to hear a story of the same situation, that turned out to be a healthy baby. Maybe I should go ahead and read article 3. Do I really need a doctor or does this process truly just take more than two months ?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If your bleeding has continued over several months and you haven’t seen any tissue, I would go see a care provider, hope or no hope. With a first trimester loss, you wouldn’t expect this level of prolonged bleeding. It’s possible it’s just a lingering hormonal imbalance or your loss is just taking a long time (I did have spotting for about a week before one of my full losses), but it’s worth being sure. It would also offer you some closure (or confirmation that your hope was valid, as bleeding in pregnancy can happen).

      • Anonymous

        I think you’re right. I can’t continue to allow my pain and frustration to cause me to think and act without logic. It’s best that i go ahead and get checked out to know for sure that things are ok. Here and there i do see some sort of clot or tissue come out but not regularly. Thank you for sharing your story and giving advice on a difficult situation that you too have had to go through. Thank you for this – for helping me deal with my loss and I’m sorry that you’ve had to experience this on more than one occasion. It is very hard ! Thanks again !