Effects of Miscarriage & How to Recover & Conceive After Miscarriage
Created by Shikha Batra Updated on Jan 21, 2020
"Miscarriage is a traumatic loss, not only of the pregnancy but of a woman's sense of self and her hopes and dreams of the future. She has lost her 'reproductive story' and it needs to be grieved," says Janet Jaffe, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Reproductive Psychology in San Diego.
Pregnancy loss could be devastating for the couple who had to go through it and causes emotional turbulence in their lives. Postpartum depression risk is higher for women who miscarry. They may blame and torment themselves with guilt for the loss. Nobody around her could validate her sadness.
Men too find it difficult to come to terms and grapple with the physical loss of their wives after a miscarriage. The time a couple takes to recover from this loss depends on the type of miscarriage they had to go through.
What Are The Reasons for Miscarriage?
There could be various causes for miscarriage. One of the most common causes of loss of pregnancy is genetic problems such as abnormal chromosomes. The other causes include:
Infection such as German measles
Maternal conditions such as poorly controlled diabetes, lupus and other autoimmune disorders
Hormonal problems like thyroid disease
Physical problems such as being overweight or underweight
Uterine abnormalities such as fibroids or incompetent cervix
Lifestyle habits of mom-to-be can also increase the risk of miscarriage such as smoking, heavy drinking or use of illegal drugs
Additionally, certain environmental hazards including substances such as pesticides, solvents, mercury, arsenic, lead etc. can put one's pregnancy at risk of miscarriage. (Read at Length: Miscarriage Causes, Types, Ways to Prevent and Treatment)
What are the signs and symptoms of miscarriage?
Light vaginal bleeding is common in the first three months of pregnancy. However, miscarriage has some common signs among women. The signs and symptoms of miscarriage include:
Vaginal bleeding - slight brownish discharge to very heavy bleeding
Mild to severe backache
Loss of body weight
Cramping and pain in the abdomen
Contractions, dizziness or feeling light-headed
Fever or chills along with other symptoms
Tissue or clotted discharge from the vagina
(Source: Signs & Symptoms of Early Pregnancy Loss, June 2016 - NCBI)
How to Recover From a Miscarriage?
Many professional studies have identified miscarriage as one of the most stressful moments for any couple. However, not all is lost, and one of the possible ways to come out of this situation is to be emotionally strong and increase your awareness.
Miscarriage can be difficult to come to terms with, also because it may not be possible to revert or control the process, even after early identification. Many studies even point to the fact that the majority of miscarriages occur even before they realize the pregnancy.
Work on Emotional Recovery
In any case, early pregnancy loss is an emotionally traumatic experience for both expecting mom and dad. It is important to not to rush the grieving process and take some time to come to terms with the loss. Emotional recovery is also equally important along with the physical health of the mother.
Seek Expert & Community Help
Seeking therapy or counselling or joining support groups would help a lot emotionally in dealing with a miscarriage. Reaching out to friends, family and/or others who have gone through the same loss may help in finding some peace and closure.
Ensure Medical & Health Integrity
Consulting your doctor regarding any medical issues or complications due to miscarriage would help in increasing the chance of having a subsequent successful pregnancy. Although the majority of the miscarriages cannot be prevented, couples can prepare better for future pregnancy.
Common Lifestyle Changes for a Successful Pregnancy
Giving up alcohol, smoking (both passive and active), building enough weight or getting back in shape, are just a few of the things that you can look after.
Get Medical Help on Concurrent Miscarriage
If two or more miscarriages (concurrent miscarriage) have happened back-to-back, the would-be mom should undergo testing to rule out any medical issues before attempting the next pregnancy. Also, to ensure a smooth pregnancy after a miscarriage it is advisable to get tested for any infections like STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and take complete treatment for the same.
Can You Get Pregnant Again After A Miscarriage?
There is good news. A woman can still conceive and the couples go on to have a successful next pregnancy after experiencing a miscarriage. The odds of carrying a pregnancy to term and having a baby are in favour of the majority of women, who plan to conceive after a miscarriage.
Although periods may not occur for several weeks after having a miscarriage, a woman can still ovulate and be fertile at any time after the miscarriage. This would mean a woman can get pregnant immediately, even if she is still having some light bleeding. So, if a couple wants to avoid pregnancy and grace some time to recover from the loss, it becomes essential to start using contraceptives immediately.
What Are The Effects of Miscarriage on Subsequent Pregnancy?
The scariest part of deciding whether to get pregnant again after a miscarriage is a fear to miscarry again. It could be too overwhelming for the couple to go through repeated miscarriages. Recurrent miscarriages occur in 1% of the women.
Most women (65 to 80%) who have miscarriages have subsequent normal pregnancies and births. The chances are still good that the couple will have a successful pregnancy after a miscarriage. (Source: Miscarriage - marchofdimes.org)
However, it is advisable to discuss the timing of your next pregnancy with your healthcare provider as waiting a certain amount of time might be recommended before trying to conceive again in some cases.
What Is The Best Time To Conceive After A Miscarriage?
A woman can ovulate and become pregnant as early as two weeks after a miscarriage. Ideally, there is no need to wait to conceive after one miscarriage. Health care providers might recommend medical tests after two or more subsequent miscarriages.
These tests might include blood tests, chromosomal tests and other procedures can be done to detect uterine problems. However, it is advisable that one should feel emotionally and physically ready for another pregnancy after a miscarriage.
Also, latest studies recommend conceiving within three months of miscarriage for higher chances of success, especially if you have a delayed pregnancy. (Source: Interpregnancy Interval After Pregnancy Loss & Risk of Repeat Miscarriage, 2018 - NCBI)
How can one confirm if they are pregnant without consulting your doctor?
There are pregnancy kits available in the market which are quite accurate and can be administered a week after a missed period. However, once pregnancy is confirmed prenatal appointment should be scheduled. Consulting your doctor is always a wise idea to start one's pregnancy.
What can be done to improve the chances of having a healthy pregnancy after a miscarriage?
Well, nothing much can be done to prevent a miscarriage. However, making healthy lifestyle choices can help foster a healthy pregnancy. These might include:
Eating a balanced diet
Drinking plenty of water
Maintaining nutrient stores by taking prenatal vitamins and supplements such as folic acid
Avoiding substances like alcohol, nicotine and drugs
Avoiding all medications and drugs, unless necessary
Keeping a check on caffeine intake
Regular health checkups and frequent monitoring of your and your baby's condition.
Managing any chronic conditions such as diabetes, thyroid etc.by taking medications as directed
Seeking help if you experience anxiety or depression
A miscarriage can be soul-crushing for the couple who experience that loss. One miscarriage is heartbreaking enough to shake the confidence of the couple especially the woman in planning next pregnancy. While becoming pregnant again after a miscarriage can be joyful and healing experience, anxiety and depression may need some effort.
Turn to your partner, family and friends for comfort after a miscarriage. Even considering the option of consulting a counsellor for extra support in coping with the loss can be explored. Do not lose hope or get disheartened as there is still fairly a good chance of having a successful pregnancy even after a miscarriage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can Having Sex Cause Miscarriage?
Ans: In many cases, a miscarriage has no apparent cause. However, there are many misconceptions regarding a miscarriage. There is no evidence to suggest that having sex can cause miscarriage. The developing baby is protected by the amniotic fluid in the uterus.
The sexual activity would not affect the baby, as long as pregnant women don’t have complications like preterm labour or placental problems. There are different sexual positions which the couple can try and experiment with to find out what works best for them during pregnancy. Oral sex is also safe during pregnancy. (Read at Length: Can Sex in Pregnancy Cause Miscarriage? Trimester-wise Sex Positions)
Q: What care should be taken after miscarriage?
Ans: Your time to recovery will vary based on the stage of pregnancy at the time of miscarriage. Usually, mothers suffering a late-stage miscarriage need more time for recovery. In the case of early (within the first 3 months) pregnancy loss, you may not need extra care as the uterus will empty itself of any tissues. In the case of late-stage miscarriage (close to 20 weeks), you may need to undergo treatment for removing tissues left in the uterus. Doctors may also recommend medicines to clear the remaining tissues. (Source: Parentune Expert Corner)
Q: What are the after-effects of a miscarriage?
Ans: Women may experience bleeding for up to two weeks after a miscarriage. You may also experience improvement in the feeling of nausea and your breasts growing back to normal. Women who had a miscarriage around the twentieth week of pregnancy may experience breast milk. It is advisable to consult your gynaecologist if you experience heavy bleeding after the miscarriage and watch for vaginal infections. (Source: Parentune Expert Corner)
Q: Can your breast still hurt after a miscarriage?
Ans: Breasts tend to swell and grow during pregnancy, especially within the first trimester. In the case of miscarriage within this period, breasts may start to shed the change and may hurt a little for a few days. If miscarriage occurred after 14 weeks, this condition may last for a few weeks. (Source: Parentune Expert Corner)
Q: How long does the body take to heal after miscarriage?
Ans: Fertility returns within a couple of weeks for most women. However, it is recommended to give your body rest for at least three months before trying to conceive again. Though, in the case of late-stage miscarriage, you may need a longer recovery period. (Source: Parentune Expert Corner)