How do you know if you’ve miscarried?
One of the most common sign of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding, which can vary from light red or brown spotting to heavy bleeding. If it is very early in the pregnancy, you may think that you have your period. You can also experience cramping pain in your lower abdomen, which can vary from period-like pain to strong labor-like contractions.
What happens to your body after a miscarriage?
After a miscarriage, the body takes weeks to return to normal. Besides your emotional reactions, you will also have hormonal responses. Your body will go through the same changes as you would with a full-term delivery. Your body will need lots of rest and time to recover. However, there are several symptoms to be on the look out for. You should really see your family doctor or go to the emergency room right away if you:
- Have extremely bad abdominal pain
- Have a fever over 100.5 degrees F (38 degrees C) for more than 4 hours after taking acetaminophen.
- Have vaginal discharge that smells bad
- Have much heavier bleeding than a normal period (soak through a thick maxi pad in 1 hour, more than 2 hours in a row).
- Pass blood clots that are bigger than an egg.
It is of course normal to have bleeding after a pregnancy loss, but the amount is different for everyone. You could have little to no bleeding, spotting/bleeding that starts and stops over a few days or weeks, bleeding like a regular period for 1 to 2 weeks, or you may pass blood clots/tissue. This bleeding could happen 1 day to 1 month after the pregnancy loss. Everyone is different.
Your breasts may become tender and if the pregnancy was over 14 weeks then there can be some breast milk as well. Breast pressure and fullness can last from a few days to a few weeks. Try and make yourself comfortable by wearing supportive clothing and using breast pads to soak up any leaking milk. Take pain medication when needed like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. However, make sure you don’t pump and express the milk as that can cause a continuation of the milk production. Try cold compresses for a few times a day to relieve pain/pressure.
Some other changes that your body after a miscarriage can endure are nausea and/or diarrhea. This is caused by the hormone changes or from the medications given during a D&C abortion. Typically these symptoms get better after a couple of days. If your nausea is bad enough, talk to your pharmacist about different over the counter medications that you can take.
It’s normal after a miscarriage to feel tired, sad, or to cry. If it lasts more than a few weeks or if you feel overwhelmed by your loss, talk to your family doctor or a grief counselor. You may also benefit from a support group where you can meet others who have experienced a similar loss.
How long does it take to recover from a miscarriage?
It can take a few weeks to a month or more for your body to recover from a miscarriage. Depending on how long you were pregnant, you may have pregnancy hormones in your blood for 1 to 2 months after you miscarry. Most women get their period again 4 to 6 weeks after a miscarriage. You can do all of your normal activities like exercise, driving, work, etc. once you feel ready. For 2 weeks following a miscarriage, do not put anything in your vagina because there is an increased risk of infection. This means no tampons, no sex, and do not douche.
If you have any questions, please call your doctor or health care provider.
Emotional support is huge during this time. Allow your family and friends to help you get through this. Often times your friends and family know that you are grieving but do not know how to help you. When you know what you need help with let them know. This could be meal preparation, talking about the loss, coming for visits, etc. It’s okay to talk about what you need so that they can help you. More times than not you will need time to grieve, rest, and heal and to connect with your partner.
Getting support from a professional is always a good idea as well. Let your healthcare provider know if you would like help from a social worker, spiritual care advisor, leader from a spiritual or cultural community, etc. You and/or your family may want to go to a space for support.
We are always here for you at Garden State Gynecology.