Everything to know after having a miscarriage
Having a miscarriage is one of the most heartbreaking things a person can experience. Regardless of how far along you were, recovering from a miscarriage takes a lot of time and patience, both mentally and physically. The Stix community is always here to support you and make your journey easier in any way we can.
What is a miscarriage?
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before the baby is born. Unfortunately, between 10-15% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. The symptoms of a miscarriage vary depending on how far along the pregnancy was but usually begin with heavy vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain.
Many times, miscarriages are completely random and have nothing to do with your or your partner's genes or behavior. About half of miscarriages are associated with the fetus having extra or missing chromosomes caused by chance as the embryo divides and grows and not by problems inherited from the parents. A miscarriage can also be the result of medical conditions like Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), thyroid issues, diabetes, a genetic disorder called antiphospholipid syndrome, and endometriosis. Most miscarriages happen very early on in pregnancy before you even know you are pregnant. Late miscarriages happen when the baby dies between 14 and 24 weeks of pregnancy, with the term “stillborn” used for any loss after 20 weeks gestation. Late miscarriages are usually due to genetic or chromosomal problems.
What happens next?
When having a miscarriage, the inner tissue of the uterus along with the new tissue formed during pregnancy sheds through the vagina on its own. If you’re pregnant and experiencing heavy bleeding, see your primary care physician ASAP, or if bleeding/cramping is severe, go to your nearest ER for evaluation. Your doctor will likely perform an ultrasound to diagnose the miscarriage, or a blood test and plan the next steps.
Regardless of how far along you were in your pregnancy, your uterus will need to empty the tissue that has built-in order for your menstrual cycle to get back to normal. There are many options for removing the fetal tissue from the uterus. This often starts with waiting for the tissue to pass on its own without assistance. During this time it is important to be following up with your doctor weekly to monitor the progress. Should additional assistance be needed to remove the fetal tissue, your doctor may prescribe you medication that will pass the tissue within 24-48 hours. Misoprostol is a common medicine used to expel a miscarriage and can be inserted into the vagina, swallowed, or dissolved in the mouth. It works by helping your body pass the tissue from the uterus and out of the vagina.
Depending on how far along you were in the pregnancy, you may need to undergo a procedure called dilation and curettage (D&C) in which the surgeon gently scrapes the tissue from your uterus. The recovery process of this procedure varies from person to person, but you can usually leave the hospital a few hours after the procedure. You may experience some cramping and light vaginal bleeding for a few days following. Your first regular period after a miscarriage may be heavier than usual, this is expected. After resting for 2 or 3 days, you should be able to resume normal activities.
No matter which option you choose, your doctor will let you know when it’s okay for you to engage in physical activity and sex. The way your body recovers depends on your individual miscarriage and treatment course. Most women’s period returns to normal about six weeks after a miscarriage, once the hCG level returns to 0. Genetic testing is an option after a miscarriage that might help reveal the cause of the miscarriage. If the miscarriage is genetic related, genetic testing could help you and your doctor find a treatment plan to avoid another miscarriage in the future.
Your emotional health
Recovering emotionally from a miscarriage is different for everyone. It’s important to remember that whatever you’re feeling is valid and that embracing and understanding your feelings is a big part of emotional healing. Not everyone is going to communicate with you about your miscarriage with the compassion and empathy that the situation deserves. Additionally, telling friends and family about your miscarriage may not be easy. Sometimes speaking about your experience when you are ready, may help you feel less alone through this experience. Wait until you're ready to share your experience and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Just like any loss, a miscarriage may come with a grieving process that looks different for everyone. Everyone copes differently, but the process of grieving may involve feelings of shock/denial, anger/guilt/depression, and eventually, acceptance. If this is an experience you are going through with a partner, it may be helpful to communicate openly and honestly about the emotions you are both experiencing. .Also, remember you have options. There are plenty of pregnancy loss support groups and therapy options to help you get through this.
Getting pregnant again
You can become pregnant again as early as two weeks after having a miscarriage. Continue close follow-up with your provider as some recommend waiting 2-3 months to allow your body time to heal. It’s important to check on yourself and your partner physically, mentally, and emotionally before deciding to try getting pregnant again. Talk to your healthcare provider about trying to get pregnant again and what is best for you based on your individual miscarriage experience.
Whatever plethora of emotions and thoughts your miscarriage left you with, remember that Stix is here for you as a community and a resource to help you get through it. For more like this, head to the Stix Library.