What is a miscarriage?
Miscarriage, otherwise known as spontaneous abortion, is the most frequent loss of pregnancy. It’s been reported there are over 3 million miscarriages in the United States each year. Many women miscarry before they are even aware they are pregnant or before confirmation from a doctor. The most common cause is abnormal development of the fetus, which is in many cases out of the mother’s control. Some risk factors that can be controlled such as smoking and drinking. While other factors such as advanced maternal age, disease, hormonal or structural abnormalities, or physical trauma such as a car accident are not lifestyle related..
Symptoms of miscarriage
A miscarriage can develop over several hours, days, or even weeks. Symptoms of miscarriage may include spotting, mild to severe cramping or contractions, back pain, nausea or vomiting, white-pink mucus, passing tissue or clot-like material, or weight loss after steady pregnancy weight gain. In some cases there are no symptoms, and a miscarriage is not detected until a doctor confirms the absence of a heartbeat.
Coping with miscarriage
Miscarriage can be devastating and painful both physically and mentally. Women and their partners can expect varying challenges in coping with this loss.
It can take between a few weeks and a few months to fully recover from a miscarriage. Usually, recovery corresponds with how far along the mother was in her pregnancy before miscarrying. Women may experience vaginal bleeding for up to a week after the miscarriage. Other results of miscarriage can include light bleeding or spotting, lower abdominal pain similar to menstrual cramps, and breast discomfort. Pregnancy hormones may remain in the blood for one or two months, but women can expect their normal period to resume within three to six weeks. Most doctors recommend waiting for a period of time before getting pregnant again.
Miscarriage and the subsequent bleeding can create a higher risk of infection. Women can take the following precautions to avoid infection:
- Using pads instead of tampons
- Taking showers instead of baths
- Avoiding douching
- Avoiding swimming pools
- Abstaining from sexual intercourse.
Some women may be prescribed antibiotics by their doctors. It is important to follow medical instructions when healing after a miscarriage.
Mental and emotional recovery
It is important to remember that the mother is not to blame for the miscarriage and that overwhelming emotions are a normal response to this event. Women recovering from a miscarriage can experience depression, anxiety, disbelief, anger, guilt, and sadness. They may experience fatigue, trouble sleeping, sleeping much longer than normal, episodes of crying, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, or thoughts of self-harm. Some women may also notice strained relationships with loved ones during this process. Fortunately, as the body regains hormone balance, these mental and emotional symptoms will likely disappear.
There are a variety of strategies to help in the healing process. Women and their partners may benefit from establishing a support group with their family and friends, or by joining an existing support group in their community or online. Another option is to seek professional counseling to help with working through the stages of grief and any challenges you may face individually and as a couple. It is important to remember that each person copes with hardship differently, and to do your best to support each other and keep your lines of communication open. Finally, it is recommended that you give yourself plenty of time to grieve and do not try to rush through the healing process.
The good news is that many women experience a successful pregnancy after having a miscarriage. Take the time to heal from this loss and look positively toward the future. It is recommended that women and couples consult their doctor throughout the healing process to ensure the mother is in a healthy condition to try again.
If you have a history of miscarriage and would like to schedule an appointment to discuss this matter, please contact us for a consultation.