What to Do After a Miscarriage

This is the post that I never imagined having to write when I found out I was pregnant.  I lost my baby at 10 weeks and it is a part of my journey that is important to share.  I believe in empowering women and recognizing that if you have experienced a miscarriage, you are not alone.  So, the question is what to do after a miscarriage?

Please Note:  None of this is to be taken as medical advice but instead just a reflection of my own personal experience.  Please talk to your doctor if you believe you are experiencing a miscarriage.

Go Easy on Yourself

This is the biggest one and the thing that your doctor will emphasize to you the most: You did not do this.  You did not do anything wrong.

Most miscarriages in the first trimester are caused by extra or missing chromosomes in the developing fetus. It has nothing to do with you sneaking an extra cookie or carrying in heavy groceries.

This was the hardest part for me to accept.  When something goes wrong, I always self-reflect on what I could have done differently or what can I do to fix it next time.  In this case, the answer was nothing.  I could not have done anything differently and it was out of my control.

As a control freak, this was a hard feeling to move past.  Miscarriages are emotionally and physically draining, so it is important to go easy on yourself.  Don’t judge your emotions, but just acknowledge and accept them for what they are.

Miscarriage CanvasMiscarriage Canvas

Know Your Options

There is nothing like hearing your doctor say that they can’t find a heartbeat.  You instantly go from thinking about what the next year is going to look like (being pregnant, prepping the nursery, filling your house with all the baby things) to how am I going to survive the next 24 hours.  Your doctor will present you with a number of options on how you can proceed.

My body had already started to naturally miscarry.  Waiting for things to progress as a natural miscarriage can take weeks with the constant thought of when is this going to happen.

As the control freak that I am, I chose to speed things along with the medication misoprostol, which is designed to induce contractions to flush everything out of your body.  It is extremely painful, but I knew it would all be over in a day, which allowed me to put this nightmare behind me and move forward.

Sometimes though medication isn’t enough to remove everything or some other people voluntarily choose to do a D&C procedure.  This is a 15-30 minute outpatient surgery for those that miscarry in the first trimester that essentially suctions out all of tissue.  It is relatively quick and I’m told fairly painless, but it can leave some scarring.

It is most important to discuss these options with your doctor and decide which path is best for you to take.

Give Yourself One Day

You are going to need at least a full day to physically recover from whichever path you choose to take.  Some women choose to take the medication over the weekend when they know they have nothing going on.

It is just important to note that you will not be up and doing your normal activities or working from home while simultaneously miscarrying.  Take a day or two off from work and give yourself appropriate time to recover.

Be Prepared

Before taking the misoprostol medication, I did my research to know that it was going to start working fairly quickly and that it was going to be my own personal hell for the next 24 hours.

I made sure to stock up on Advil, a heating pad, extra absorbent pads, and a full water bottle.  I started feeling cramping within 30 minutes of taking the pills, but the worst came at the 5-6 hour mark.

Heating PadHeating Pad

I’ve clearly never been in labor, but, from what I have read from those who have experienced both, the feelings are similar.  The pain was so bad that I had extreme nausea.  No position felt comfortable.

The difference with a miscarriage is there are no milestones that tell you that you are getting closer to the end; you just have to keep going through the agony until it stops.

Additionally, I took Advil but ibuprofen did next to nothing to help with the unbearable pain.  I wish miscarriages came with an epidural.  To top it all off, you don’t get an amazing baby at the end of it.  You just get emptiness and sadness and relief that it is all over.

It will suck, but you will get through it.

Have Support

What to do after a miscarriage: have support
Photo Credit: Asheville Wedding Photography

Having a miscarriage ranks up there as one of the worst days of my life so far, not too far behind the day I lost my mom.  In such an emotional time, it is essential to surround yourself with supportive people.

I know many people choose to not tell their family members until after the first trimester for fear of having a miscarriage.  It is true that I probably told too many people and am now dreading following up with the “just kidding” text.  But, I also am so glad I told people because I can now talk about this part so freely without feeling ashamed.

To one of my best friends, who rushed to just be my side when I started showing signs of miscarriage.  To my parents, who sent me flowers even though they live states away.  And to my amazing husband, who showered me in hugs and had me laughing even through the worst of times.  I could not have gone through this without them.

Make sure you have your support team close by; you will need them.

Treat Yourself

Take the day to throw yourself a pity party.  It’s okay to be sad.  I chose to indulge in all those foods I had been so careful to avoid while pregnant.  Milk Duds for breakfast, sushi for lunch, and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for dinner.  I ordered pizza for the rest of my family so I didn’t have to cook that night.  The following morning, I went and grabbed myself a large iced latte.

I am not saying to drown in your emotions, but it is okay to take a moment for yourself.  If you are physically feeling up to it, then do the things you love.  Do what brings you joy so you can feel a little bit of sunshine in your rather dark and gloomy day.

Ice CreamIce Cream

Seek Therapy

Miscarriage will come with all the emotions and the grieving process will take time.  You will experience grief, sadness, anger, relief, and then circle through all those emotions about ten more times within a two-minute period.

It’s a lot and sometimes it requires the help of a professional to work through them.  It is okay to need the extra help. Use resources like Psychology Today to find a therapist in your area.

For me, there is a lot of sadness and I am grieving what I thought our life would look like in nine months.  I also have a lot of misplaced anger – towards the people who are able to have multiple kids with no complications and towards the teenagers who so carelessly get pregnant after one time of unprotected sex.

I also have a lot of anger over the time wasted.  The time spent trying, the time being pregnant, and now the time waiting until we can try again; it just feels like a lifetime.  Especially being in my 30s, I can feel the time ticking away.

So, remember the first tip I had – accept your emotions for what they are and go easy on yourself.

Prioritize Your Health

While I say take one day to treat yourself and indulge in all your favorite comfort foods, it is still important to prioritize your health.  This is especially important if you want to try to conceive again.

Make sure you take care of your mental health by seeing a therapist if needed and connecting with friends. Get outside, remember to exercise, journal, and make healthy choices.  The day after I miscarried, I did a hard workout and it helped me feel renewed and empowered.

Grief JournalGrief Journal

Talk to Your Doctor

Some of the biggest questions that come with miscarriage are how do I prevent this next time and will it happen again?  Your doctor will reassure you that a miscarriage generally doesn’t affect your ability to go on and have successful future pregnancies.  It doesn’t take away your fear it will happen again, but it is important to know the facts and not get lost in all your worries.

After they confirm your miscarriage, they will schedule a follow up appointment to make sure everything has been cleared out.  In the meantime, they say to be on the lookout for any signs of infection like extreme hemorrhaging.  If that happens, go to the emergency room immediately.

Note: If you have a negative blood type, they will require that you get the RhoGAM shot within 72 hours.  This prevents your body from creating antibodies that would potentially attack a future fetus with a positive blood type.

Inform Your Kids

This was one of the hardest parts of having a miscarriage.  Our son was extremely excited to be a big brother and we chose not to wait to tell him.  He was able to be a part of the journey with us where we shared pictures from the ultrasound and he helped me paint the nursery.  The news of miscarriage hit just as hard for him as it did for us.

Give your kids their own space to grieve if they need it.  They will take their emotional cues from you though; so honor your emotions and say it is okay to be sad, but also show them how to be strong.

My son wrote a letter to me and to himself where he said it was a really sad day, but that he was not going to let it ruin his day.  Together, we worked towards making sure that was true.

Children's bookChildren's book

Give Yourself Time to Heal

I am someone who instantly wanted to put this behind me and instead focus on moving forward.  Some people need more time though.  Doctors recommend waiting two to three months before trying to conceive again so that you have time to heal emotionally and physically.  The wait for me is most agonizing.

For me to heal, I try to have no regrets with how things went this last time.  Yes, seeing the nursery start to come together is hard to walk by every day, but I don’t regret painting it.  I had just started to take bump photos and I look at them proudly.

It is part of your journey and you should not be ashamed of that.  To pass the time waiting, I will probably still continue to prepare our house and decorate the nursery.  It personally gives me something to look forward to and keep my mind somewhere else.

What to do after a miscarriage

Hot Tip:  Many people like to create a memory box for their little one.  Inside you can include your pregnancy test, any ultrasound photos, or letters you might have written.  Include anything that honors their memory.

Miscarriages are some of the hardest things a woman can go through, but it is important to know that miscarriages are more common than you think.

Surround yourself with good people and remember to not be hard on yourself.  I send a lot of love to the people who have experienced multiple miscarriages and infertility; you all are truly superheroes.

Supporting someone who has had a miscarriage?  It is hard to watch your loved one go through such a tough time, but there are little things you can do to help.  Let them know you are thinking of them by texting them or sending a card and flowers.  Bring over a premade dinner for them so they don’t have to worry about cooking.  When they are feeling up to it, take them out to coffee or lunch. 

Little acts of kindness can mean a whole lot during tough times.

Condolence CandleCondolence Candle

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