Are you pregnant or trying to conceive and concerned about miscarriage? Have you previously experienced a miscarriage and are worried it might happen again? We have all the information you need when dealing with miscarriage or the fear of one.
Having had a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby, when I became pregnant a second time, miscarriage was something that didn’t cross my mind. Then it happened.
After the initial devastation, I researched all I could to find out why it happened. Was there something I could have done differently to prevent it? I didn’t understand why it had happened and hoped that learning more would help me process it.
To help you, I will share all I learned about miscarriage and how to cope afterward.
What Is a Miscarriage?
The medical definition of a miscarriage is the loss of an embryo before the 20th week of pregnancy. You might sometimes hear it called a spontaneous abortion. Although it’s not an abortion in the true sense of the word, it happens involuntarily and is unavoidable.
Miscarriages are a lot more common than you might think. Many women experience them before they even know they are pregnant.
Classified as pre-clinical miscarriages, 30 percent of women will miscarry before an embryo implants in the uterus. Another 30 percent will miscarry before their first menstrual period after implantation.
An additional 10 percent of confirmed pregnancies will result in miscarriage up to about 20 weeks (1).
You Are Not Alone
These percentages might appear daunting, but also reassuring in a way, because it means you’re not alone in your plight. I wondered how on earth any pregnancies were carried to term with such a high percentage of miscarriage. Then chatting with friends and family, I was surprised to find out how many fellow women had also experienced miscarriages.
The chances of a woman who has reached childbearing age having a miscarriage are about 15 to 25 percent. Certain factors like age can affect this — the older you are, the more increased likelihood of miscarriage.
Up to the age of 35, there is a 15 percent chance of miscarriage. Between 35 and 45 years old that increases to 20–35 percent and for women over 45, there’s up to a 50 percent risk of miscarriage (2).
Don’t Give Up
There is often no differential between the reasons for an early or late miscarriage. An early miscarriage is one that happens before the 12th week of pregnancy and a late one occurs after the 12-week mark. Early miscarriages account for most pregnancy losses.
Late miscarriages are comparatively rare, accounting for only one to two percent of all pregnancy losses. Medical conditions, such as a misshapen uterus or weak cervix, certain blood conditions, polycystic ovaries, diabetes, and thyroid issues can contribute to late miscarriage (3).
Am I Having a Miscarriage?
Some of the symptoms associated with a miscarriage can be part of a healthy pregnancy, which will remain viable and continue to full term. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, see your medical practitioner to get checked out. It might not always be signs of a miscarriage, but it’s best to be safe.
Symptoms of a miscarriage include:
- Mild or severe back or abdominal pain: A certain amount of back or abdominal pain during early pregnancy is normal — but if it starts suddenly or becomes increasingly worse, it’s a cause for concern. This is especially the case if regular, rhythmic cramps accompany the pain. Compare it to your normal menstrual pain; if it’s worse than that, it could indicate a miscarriage.
- Bleeding: Approximately 30 percent of women experience bleeding or spotting during early pregnancy. In about 50 percent of cases, the pregnancy will continue to full term. When bleeding is bright red or brown and you also have cramps, it’s a sign there could be something amiss (4).
- Vaginal discharge: A whitish pink discharge from the vagina can be a sign of an impending miscarriage. Other indications are blood clots, or tissue passing from the vagina.
- Cramps or contractions: As your body adjusts to being pregnant, some cramping is normal. When this is severe, and especially if it’s at regular intervals (between every 5 to 20 minutes), then it might be a sign of pregnancy loss. If you find that you are having significant pain in one side or the other, contact your OB provider immediately as this could be a medical emergency called an ectopic pregnancy.
- Loss of or decrease in pregnancy symptoms: Signs of early pregnancy can include breast tenderness and nausea. A sudden absence or decrease in these can indicate a miscarriage (5).
Different Types of Miscarriage
There are various types of miscarriage, which include (6):
- Threatened miscarriage: This is characterized by bleeding during early pregnancy, along with a lower backache and/or cramping. This could be the result of the embryo taking up residence in the uterus, or implantation, and can continue for some time. Often, the pregnancy will continue, but there are occasions when it can indicate a warning sign for miscarriage.
- Inevitable miscarriage: Heavier bleeding or discharge accompanies back or abdominal pain, and the cervix will open. It can follow a threatened miscarriage without any warning and pregnancy loss cannot be avoided.
- Complete miscarriage: Once all the tissue associated with your pregnancy leaves your uterus, then the miscarriage is considered complete. Although you may still bleed or feel cramps for several days, this is normal as the womb contracts to empty itself. You should see your health professional if you have miscarried at home, so they can check that it’s complete.
- Incomplete miscarriage: There are times when, after a miscarriage, some tissue remains behind and the womb continues to bleed or cramp to dispel it. This needs to be assessed by a doctor or midwife. You might need a medical procedure to clear the contents of the uterus.
- Missed miscarriage: This is when a baby dies but stays inside the uterus. Indications can be a brownish discharge and a decrease or absence of pregnancy symptoms, like nausea and tender breasts — often there will be no symptoms, and the first indications will show on a scan. Your doctor will discuss options for dealing with this type of miscarriage and offer support.
- Recurrent miscarriage: A few women can experience more than three miscarriages. When this happens you should discuss options for conception and pregnancy with your medical professional. They can investigate any possible causes and help you seek out special treatment if it is needed.
Other Types of Pregnancy Loss
As well as spontaneous pregnancy loss, there are other times when a baby cannot be carried to term or doesn’t develop. When this happens, surgical intervention is required to end the pregnancy. Although not technically a miscarriage, the effects can be just as far-reaching and devastating.
These pregnancy losses include:
- Ectopic pregnancy: This happens when a fertilized egg embeds itself outside the womb, generally in one of the fallopian tubes. Indications this might have happened are bleeding, severe lower abdominal pain, vomiting, and pain in the tip of a shoulder. It is a potentially life-threatening condition for mom and needs immediate medical intervention.
- Blighted ovum: This happens when a sac is embedded in the uterus wall but there is no embryo inside it. It might have failed to develop and been absorbed into the womb at an early stage. Doctors typically discover this on an ultrasound scan and will discuss treatment with you.
- Molar pregnancy: This happens when something goes wrong during fertilization or with the egg — it can be a non-viable egg, fertilization by two sperm, or abnormal placental growth. Symptoms of pregnancy will be experienced, such as a missed period, nausea, and a positive pregnancy test. Generally discovered during a scan or improperly doubling pregnancy hormone, medical removal is required.
What Is a Chemical Pregnancy?
Soon after fertilization, the body releases the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). If the egg fails to implant, early miscarriage happens. This is classified as a chemical pregnancy (7).
Pregnancy tests have become quite sophisticated in recent years and can detect hCG even before you might have missed a period. This could be a reason for you having a positive pregnancy test, followed by a period a few days later, and then a negative test.
These pregnancies are not usually accompanied by symptoms, but if they are, it’s usually menstrual cramps and bleeding. Consequently, many women might assume they are experiencing a normal menstrual period and not even realize they are having an early miscarriage.
Why Do Miscarriages Happen?
Whatever the cause of a lost pregnancy might be, it’s important to remember that it’s out of your control and not your fault. Sometimes, the actual cause might not be known, but some of the reasons we may experience a miscarriage include:
1. Chromosomal Problems
We all have 23 pairs of chromosomes. One of each pair comes from your mother and the other from your father. When there are irregularities in an embryo’s chromosomes, then it fails to develop normally and miscarriage can occur.
The reasons for this are a matter of chance and not predetermined. It could be a damaged egg or sperm, or something that didn’t go right when cells started dividing. Blighted ovum and molar pregnancy are both chromosomal defects.
It’s not your fault. I know there are no soothing words that can turn back time and fix this wrong. Please do not go looking for a reason to blame yourself, Mama. Take your time to heal and work through your grief.
Editor's Note:Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM
2. Uterine and Cervical Issues
Existing medical conditions associated with the uterus or cervix can also result in miscarriage. These include:
- Septate uterus: Women with this condition have a uterus that is separated into two sections. This congenital defect can be corrected surgically, to improve the chances of a successful pregnancy (8).
- Asherman syndrome: This can affect the uterus and the cervix. It is a buildup of scar tissue that can be removed surgically to help conception and pregnancy (9).
- Fibroids: These are noncancerous growths which can form in and around the womb. They might restrict space in the womb for baby to grow, and can be removed (10).
- Cervical insufficiency: Also called cervical incompetence, this describes a cervix that opens too early in a pregnancy. While more common during the second trimester, it can lead to miscarriage. A procedure called cerclage, which puts a stitch in the cervix, can help keep it closed (11).
Some infections can contribute to miscarriage, including:
- STIs: Some sexually transmitted diseases, such as genital herpes, chlamydia, and syphilis can cause miscarriage (12).
- Listeriosis: This is caused by Listeria bacteria, which can be found in undercooked meats, unpasteurized dairy products, and raw eggs. It can contribute to pregnancy loss (13).
4. Hormone Imbalance and Health Issues
Abnormal hormone levels can prevent the lining of the womb from developing sufficiently to support a pregnancy.
Some conditions, such as polycystic ovaries, thyroid or adrenal gland issues, and diabetes, can leave women more susceptible to hormone imbalances.
An increase in prolactin released by the pituitary gland can also interfere with hormone levels and the uterine lining (14).
Other chronic illnesses, like heart disease, autoimmune disorders, liver, and kidney disease, can also cause miscarriage (15).
5. Other Risk Factors
Below are some of the factors that may predispose a woman to miscarriage:
- Age: Unfortunately, the older we get, the higher the risk of miscarriage becomes. From about 35 years old, the risks increase more with each year (16).
- Lifestyle choices: Smoking, taking drugs, and drinking alcohol can all increase the risk of pregnancy loss (17).
- Harmful chemicals: Exposure to some chemicals, such as solvents and paint thinners, can increase the risk of miscarriage or abnormalities in the fetus (18).
- Obesity: Being overweight is another risk factor for pregnancy loss. A BMI of 30 or over is classified as obese and can affect your chances of carrying a baby to full term (19).
- Recurrent miscarriages: The risk of miscarriage following three previous losses is about 33 percent (20).
- Genetics: A family history of genetic problems can be passed on to an embryo and result in a pregnancy loss (21).
- Prenatal tests: Some tests, such as amniocentesis and CVS sampling, can cause spontaneous pregnancy loss. These invasive tests draw amniotic fluid or a sample of the placenta from the womb, to check for abnormalities, like Down syndrome (22).
Can a Miscarriage Be Prevented?
It’s often not known why a miscarriage happens, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. As hard as it might be to deal with, remember, you are not to blame.
There are some things you can do to reduce the risk of miscarriage, including (23):
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Avoid certain foods, like undercooked meat, raw eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products.
- If you smoke, quit.
- Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes per day, three times per week.
Lose weight prior to conception.
- Don’t drink alcohol or use illegal drugs when trying to conceive or if you’re pregnant.
What To Expect Following a Miscarriage
By the time you suspect you might be having a miscarriage or realize you have had one, the physical part of it might already be over.
It’s important to seek advice from your healthcare provider, as they can make sure there are no lasting physical effects that need to be addressed. The treatment will vary, depending on whether the miscarriage is complete or incomplete.
If You Had a Complete Miscarriage
A complete miscarriage means all of the tissue associated with your pregnancy has been passed. This type of miscarriage is most common in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. You may experience bleeding and cramps for a few weeks following the miscarriage.
You should see your doctor, whether you think the miscarriage is complete or not.
Your medical provider will examine you to ensure that none of the pregnancy tissue remains. These exams may include:
- Physical examination: An internal examination might be made to check that the cervix is closed. If it is and bleeding has stopped, then the miscarriage is likely to be complete. To further check, the following tests may be done.
- Ultrasound scan: This will show whether any tissue remains in the womb and will also check for a fetal heartbeat. In the absence of either, then the pregnancy loss will be complete.
- hCG levels: This pregnancy hormone can remain in the system for several days or weeks following a complete miscarriage. This will be monitored to ensure it is dropping as it should and finally returning to zero (24).
Rhogam D Shot
Following a miscarriage, your doctor might advise you to have a Rhogam D shot.This will usually be done within 72 hours.
This is required if you have an Rh-negative blood group. During the miscarriage, if your baby was an Rh-positive blood group, you might have been exposed to blood cells from the fetus.
The shot helps to prevent your body from producing antibodies to Rh-positive blood, which could harm your fetus in subsequent pregnancies (25).
If You Had an Incomplete Miscarriage
There are times when a miscarriage might be incomplete and tissue remains in the uterus. This is generally indicated by bleeding, cramping, and a dilated cervix. Often, when a miscarriage is deemed incomplete, nature will take its course and no intervention will be needed.
If this doesn’t happen and your body has difficulty removing the remaining tissue, then your health care provider will discuss your options with you.
They may follow either of three courses of action — watchful waiting, surgery, and medication.
1. Watchful Waiting
This is exactly what it suggests. You will be monitored carefully as an outpatient until the body naturally passes the tissues associated with your pregnancy. This is a non-invasive treatment option, but it can take days or weeks to complete.
Once the bleeding and cramping start, it can feel worse than having a normal period. The cramping may be significant and some women may benefit from taking ibuprofen during this time. Light bleeding may stop and start, and last for a couple of weeks. If you have significant bleeding that continues, speak to a healthcare provider immediately.
This might be distressing for some women, and an option which gives you closure more quickly could be a better choice.
There is still a risk that the miscarriage will be incomplete and medical intervention might be needed (26).
2. Dilation and Curettage (D&C)
This surgical option could be performed if a woman doesn’t want to wait for the miscarriage to complete. It may also be carried out if there is heavy bleeding or remaining pregnancy tissue.
A general anesthetic will usually be administered to carry out this surgery. During the procedure, a gynecologist or obstetrician uses medication or small instruments to open the neck of the cervix. This gives them access to the uterus and its contents.
A curette is used to scrape the insides of the uterus and remove all the tissue remaining from your pregnancy. The curette can either be a sharp instrument or suction may be used (27).
This procedure is generally safe, but as with any surgery, there can be complications. These include:
- Damage to the cervix or uterine lining.
- Complications from the general anesthesia.
- Scar tissue on the walls of the uterus, causing Asherman syndrome. Although rare, this can result in recurrent miscarriage.
- Incomplete removal of the tissues from the pregnancy.
If you continue to bleed for days following this procedure, or if you have any unusual discharge which smells, see your doctor. Pain and cramping are also cause for concern after a D&C.
Recovery should only take a few days. You might initially feel the adverse effects of anesthesia, like nausea, sore throat, and drowsiness.
You might also feel mild cramps and light bleeding. Your doctor could suggest a painkiller containing ibuprofen to help make you more comfortable.
You should refrain from having sex or using tampons until your doctor advises you it’s safe. Your cervix has been opened and you don’t want infection getting into your uterus. Your doctor can also tell you when it’s safe to start trying for a baby again.
Misoprostol is a medication which can be used to open the cervix and encourage the onset of the miscarriage (28). This is another option which might be chosen if you don’t want to wait for a natural miscarriage.
The medicine is administered through a pessary into the vagina. Between two to six hours later, cramps and bleeding will start, which can last between three and five hours.
During this time you can take a painkiller and apply a heating pad to deal with the discomfort.
The possible side effects of this medication are diarrhea, nausea, and chills. These symptoms, if you get them, should pass within an hour or so.
The bleeding and cramps experienced will be heavier and more intense than a normal period. Light bleeding can continue for a week or so afterward (29).
Complications of a Miscarriage
No matter the type of miscarriage, there are complications that can follow. Some of these are:
1. Excessive Bleeding
Too much bleeding following a miscarriage can be dangerous. As a general rule, if you are bleeding so much you soak through a sanitary pad in less than an hour, seek medical help. You could be hemorrhaging as a result of your miscarriage (30).
Other indications that you’re losing too much blood include lightheadedness, pale and clammy skin, or an increased heart rate. You should treat this as a medical emergency which needs immediate treatment.
Approximately three percent of women develop an infection following a miscarriage. This can happen whether the miscarriage has been natural, medical, or surgical (31).
If you have any signs of infection, seek medical help. These include:
- Bleeding or cramping which has lasted more than two weeks.
- A high temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
- Heavy bleeding.
- Vaginal discharge which smells unpleasant.
Often these infections can be successfully treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated, they can be dangerous.
3. Asherman Syndrome
We have already mentioned this complication of miscarriage. It’s when scar tissue forms on the uterus and can be a contribution to recurrent pregnancy loss.
A common symptom is having light, infrequent, or no periods at all. The condition can be diagnosed using a test called a hysteroscopy. A scope is used to examine the inside of the uterus and cervical canal (32).
Surgery can be carried out to remove the adhesions to help prevent future miscarriages.
This is cancer which can form in the uterus after a miscarriage or a molar pregnancy. The abnormal cells are fast growing. Symptoms of this include irregular or abnormal bleeding following the miscarriage (33).
Anxiety and Depression
Experiencing a miscarriage can be upsetting and traumatizing. It is normal to feel grief and despair. However, if you are unable to cope and have signs of depression or anxiety and stress, you should seek medical help.
Signs you might be clinically depressed include:
- Little or no interest in hobbies and activities you previously enjoyed.
- Constant tiredness and fatigue.
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss.
- Sleeping excessively, not sleeping enough, or having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep.
- Unable to concentrate or struggling to make decisions.
- Suicidal thoughts.
Depression can interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis and is a serious condition. A mental health counselor and/or medications can help deal with these symptoms and get your life back on track (34).
Anxiety disorders can also manifest following a miscarriage. Some might even regard it as a post-traumatic stress disorder. A professional trained in mental health can help you learn strategies to assist you in coping with your loss and getting back to normal.
Postpartum Support International is a great resource for moms and dads who are in need of help.
Tips for Coping with Miscarriage
There is no right or wrong way to feel following the loss of your pregnancy. We’re all individuals and grieve in our own ways. You’ll no doubt have been looking forward to and planning your future life, and those dreams have now been taken away.
Healing Takes Time
You’re left with what feels like a gaping hole in your life, which will take time to heal. It’s quite normal to feel confused, vulnerable, guilty, shocked, and angry. You might even feel depressed or anxious, and think you have failed in some way.
It’s likely that you want reasons why it happened, which often can’t be provided. This can lead to frustration and fear of trying again.
Be assured that you’re not to blame. Pregnancy loss happens to many women and you aren’t alone. Nature has, unfortunately, taken over and left you with no choice and no control.
There are some things you can do to get past your rollercoaster of emotions and accept and cope with your loss.
1. Know the Steps of Grief
Acknowledging your loss and taking the time to grieve are important steps in the healing process.
Grief goes through different stages; you might experience some or all of them, and they may not necessarily be in any particular order (35). These include:
- Denial: Feeling shocked or numb and not really believing your miscarriage has happened is normal. It’s a temporary coping mechanism for the overwhelming loss you have experienced.
- Guilt: You may feel the loss of your pregnancy is your fault. You might examine what you could have done wrong or what you could have done differently. There is no blame here — what you did or didn’t do would not have made a difference.
- Anger: You might try to blame others, like your doctor, partner, or a higher power, for the loss. The pain of your loss can leave you feeling frustrated and helpless.
- Questioning: You’re asking yourself, “What if?” and “If only?” even though you know there was nothing that could make a difference.
- Depression: An uncontrollable feeling of sadness might take over as you realize your loss is permanent. This can start affecting the daily aspects of your life, leading to depression, the symptoms of which we have already listed.
- Acceptance: You finally accept reality now that you’re no longer pregnant and realize it can’t be changed. You’re ready to move forward, even though you might still feel sad.
2. Connect with Your Partner
Everyone has their own way of dealing with grief and coping with loss. While you and your partner undoubtedly agree on many things, when it comes to grief, you might both react differently.
You were carrying the baby in your body and most likely had a stronger bond than your partner. This doesn’t lessen the grief he might also be experiencing. Make sure you keep the lines of communication open and talk to each other about how you’re feeling.
Keep In Mind
Men and women grieve in different ways. Men tend to appear more stoic and hold their feelings back, dealing with their loss in their own way. He may feel that he has to remain strong for you, and not know how to show his true feelings.
He might not want to talk about the miscarriage all the time or ask family and friends for help, as you might. The fact that he doesn’t cry or get as angry as you doesn’t mean he isn’t feeling the loss too.
Be kind, honest, and patient with each other and respectful of your different ways of grieving. Together, you can help each other move forward.
3. Take Care of Yourself
You need to make sure you look after yourself to help your body and mind heal. Make sure you eat a balanced diet, including vegetables and fruit. Though it might be tempting, avoid alcohol and highly caffeinated drinks — they could make you feel worse.
Keeping a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, will help ensure you are rested.
Fit some exercise into your daily routine. This could just be a walk through the park, a fitness class, or a jog around the neighborhood. Take it at your own pace, but try to stay active.
Take Care of Yourself
Self-care means making some time for yourself. Set aside some time to do things you enjoy. It could be yoga, reading, or going to see a show. Maybe you like getting in touch with nature, taking time out on a mountain trail, strolling along a beach, or around the lake.
Try to avoid stressful situations or triggers that make you feel anxious. It’s fine to say no to things you don’t feel up to doing or commitments you don’t want to take on. Learn that it’s good to relax and unwind, even if it’s just watching your favorite Netflix series.
Treat yourself to something special. Maybe go for a massage or a manicure and pedicure. Buy something new, like that pair of shoes you have been admiring forever.
It’s important to make sure your body and mind are healthy if you plan to try again for a baby.
4. Don’t Cut Yourself Off
Family and friends can be a huge source of support for both you and your partner. While it might hurt to talk about your experience, sharing what has happened and how you feel can help you realize you are not alone.
Not everyone will comprehend what has happened, but you might find understanding in the unlikeliest of places. Connecting with co-workers, relatives, friends, and neighbors may surprise you. They could have their own stories of grief and coping, which can give you support and knowledge to help you deal with your loss.
You might also find solace from joining a support group. Speaking to other women who have had miscarriages can be a great comfort.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask your doctor or midwife about groups in your area. You could also contact Share, a pregnancy and infant loss support group, with local meetings, online support, and more (36).
5. Not Everyone Will Understand
Although they don’t mean it, some people can be insensitive about your loss, You will come up against those who will say things you might find upsetting. “You can always try again” or “You’ll get over it” are some of the things you might hear.
Remember, it’s your loss and, unless someone has been through a similar experience, they just might not understand. They don’t mean to be insensitive, so let it wash over you.
Take your time to grieve and don’t feel pressured into conforming to the wishes of others. You will have good days and bad days, days when you can talk about your experience and days when you can’t even contemplate it. Take each day as it comes and over time you’ll find things getting better.
6. Take Up a Hobby
It might be a good time to get in touch with your creative side. Pursuing a new hobby can help distract you and give you a sense of satisfaction and achievement.
You could learn to paint, keep a journal and write, take up gardening, sewing, or baking. There might be classes in your area, which will get you out and meeting new people. It could offer some respite to just be you, where people don’t know what’s happened.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
You may find, in the days following your miscarriage, that even the simplest of daily tasks are impossible. Family and friends will want to help but they might not know how.
If you want help with the housework, need a meal cooked, some groceries, or laundry washed and dried, ask. Maybe you have other children who need to be picked up from school or brought to ball games or after-school activities.
These are just some of the things that will make people feel useful and supportive and will lighten your burden until you’re ready to cope again.
8. Remembering Your Baby
You may not have had the chance to meet your baby, but they were a part of your life. There are many ways you can remember them that will be special to you.
You could write a journal with your thoughts and feelings, or write poems or letters to your baby. Think about keepsakes, like an ultrasound picture or a soft toy you bought for him or her. Maybe you can have a special piece of jewelry made to commemorate them.
A memorial service would give you and those around you a chance to say goodbye. Sharing your grief can be comforting and help you on the road to healing.
You could plant a tree in your garden in honor of your lost little one or make a charity donation in their name. You can light a candle on special days and holidays in their memory.
9. Seek Professional Help
Dealing with the loss of a pregnancy can be quite daunting. You might feel alone, even when you’re surrounded by people who care. Your thoughts and feelings can be so overwhelming that they interfere with your ability to function.
If you’re struggling to cope, no matter what you try and do, it could be time to seek professional help. There are physicians, mental health professionals, and grief counselors who can assist you in coming to terms with your loss.
10. Be Patient
Grief affects everyone in different ways. There are some who recover quite quickly but, for others, it can take months or years to come to terms with the loss of a baby.
Meeting friends who are pregnant or have young babies might be difficult. Explain that you’re not yet ready and excuse yourself from situations which you find painful. Avoid situations where you feel you’re not ready to cope.
Over time, your pain will ease and your heart will hold treasured memories of your baby. There are no set timescales for dealing with loss, it takes as long as it needs to for you.
Don’t beat yourself up if you or those around you think it’s taking a long time. You’ll know when you’re at peace and ready to face the future.
Trying to Conceive After a Miscarriage
When you’re ready, you might want to try to get pregnant again. You will undoubtedly have questions about when it’s safe and what the chances are of another miscarriage. Let’s answer some of those for you.
How Soon Can I Try Again?
Being ready to try for another baby will vary from person to person. For some couples, a new pregnancy might help them come to terms with the one they lost. Others will wait and take time to grieve and deal with their loss before starting again.
It’s an individual choice, which you and your partner should discuss. There is no right or wrong; it’s entirely up to you to decide.
You will need to allow your body time to recover and for your hormones to settle down again. You may find your periods will be irregular for the first few months. This could lead to disappointment if you get a negative pregnancy test when your period is late (37).
From a medical perspective, there are different schools of thought. Some physicians will advise that you can start trying after your first normal period; others will suggest waiting up to three months or longer (38). The World Health Organization recommends waiting six months (39).
These are some of the main factors to take into account:
- You should not have sexual intercourse following a miscarriage until the bleeding has stopped. The reason for this is that it can lead to an infection.
- Waiting until you have had your first period makes it easier to calculate dates for your pregnancy.
- Conceiving again before your first period won’t increase the chance of a further miscarriage. Evidence suggests that there’s a lower risk of pregnancy loss if you get pregnant within six months following a miscarriage (40).
- The best time to begin trying again for a baby is when both you and your partner feel ready, both physically and emotionally.
If you’re undergoing any tests, then it’s best to be guided by your healthcare provider and wait until you’ve completed them. Other times when you might need to wait before trying again are following an ectopic or molar pregnancy.
You should also wait if you have an illness or infection and are taking medications that aren’t compatible with pregnancy.
Will I Miscarry Again?
It’s understandable you’ll be worried and concerned about another pregnancy. You will be afraid you might miscarry again. I know I was, and the worry continued throughout the pregnancy, even though it was a healthy one with no complications.
Statistically, the odds of successfully having a healthy full-term pregnancy are in your favor. Only one percent of women will miscarry on a subsequent pregnancy.
About 85 percent of women who have had one miscarriage will have a successful pregnancy the second time around. If you’ve had two miscarriages, there is still about a 75 percent chance that you’ll go on to have a successful pregnancy.
Even after three miscarriages, you still have about a 72 percent chance of a full-term pregnancy (41).
If you have had more than one miscarriage, your healthcare provider can carry out some tests to see if there are underlying causes, like chromosomal or hormone issues. They can also check for uterine and cervical problems.
Useful Resources for Information
Following a pregnancy loss, you may want to research and find help from many different sources. Here are some you might find useful.
- M.E.N.D. is a Christian charity which has both a website with useful information and a Facebook page (42). You will find details of meetings and a newsletter you can subscribe to.
- Unspoken Grief is a website where you can read stories written by others who have experienced a miscarriage. You can leave your own story for others to read if you wish (43).
- Helplines, such as the American Pregnancy Helpline (44), the Office on Women’s Health (45), and All Options (46), all have numbers you can call to ask for advice and support.
There are also many books written about miscarriage and how to cope.
- “Empty Arms” by Sherokee Ilse, has helped many women coping with miscarriage.
- “Always Within: Grieving the Loss of Your Infant” by Melissa L Eshelman is a compilation of mothers’ experiences of pregnancy loss. It details how these people coped and got through their experiences, with an aim to help others. Many have found it comforting knowing they are not alone in their ordeal.
- “Trying Again” by Ann Douglas and John R Sussman deals with the aspects of trying for a baby after a loss. It helps you decide whether you’re ready to start on your pregnancy journey, by giving you a full picture of what you need to know.
Our Final Thoughts
Miscarriage is a harrowing experience that unleashes a lot of emotions. One minute you were feeling joy and happiness and looking forward to a healthy pregnancy and the birth of your child. In an instant, it’s all taken away.
Take comfort that you are not alone and it’s not your fault. Time is a great healer and there’s every chance you will go on to have a successful pregnancy. Just take your time and do what feels right for you and your partner, when it feels right.
I hope you found my insights on dealing with miscarriage a help and I would love to hear your views. Please leave us a comment and share with others you think might benefit.