When a child spontaneously passes before the 20 week mark, it's defined as a miscarriage. Anywhere from 10 to 20% of women suffer from these tragedies, and most lose their babies during the first trimester. Though emotional recovery may take years, the actual process of miscarrying usually only takes days, but it can be tortuous to live through.
The causes of most miscarriages are not fully known, and it is possible for mom to miscarry without ever knowing she was expecting. However, many moms will miscarry after the first positive pregnancy test or the first sonogram that showed a picture of their child.
The symptoms mom may experience are spotting, cramping, back pain, or a lack of morning sickness when that has previously been present. Though these things can occur during a perfectly healthy pregnancy, mom will need to contact her doctor or midwife to find out for sure that everything is okay.
If a miscarriage is confirmed, mom will likely find plenty of advice on how to deal with the emotional side of recovery, though it takes time and is different for every woman. What people sometimes forget is that miscarriages, besides being emotionally daunting, are also physically painful and can leave mom low on iron and other nutrients. Mom will feel crampy and sick, and this can last for days.
Though this is a process mom just has to make it through, there are real, practical tips for how to deal with the physical discomfort associated with a miscarriage. They are worth trying.
12 Use Ice Packs On Breasts
For women who suffer miscarriages that make it closer to the 20 week mark, they will have to live with their bodies confusion about breast milk. In many cases, while mom is trying to mourn the loss of her child, her body will keep offering constant reminders of what a different ending would have been like. Breast milk, engorgement, and breast sensitivity are a few of those reminders.
To deal with this, mom can use ice packs to help the hurting. She will also need to try to avoid touching her breasts or letting water hit them directly in the shower. Any touch can trigger the body to think a baby is near who needs food, and that starts the whole process of letting down milk over again.
Though this is usually not a problem for women who miscarry very early in pregnancy, it can be for women who make it further into the pregnancy.
11 Opt For Pads Over Tampons
Mom may have to modify a few habits while her body recovers from a miscarriage. For instance, women who are used to using tampons when bleeding need to use sanitary napkins for miscarriage bleeding, the bleeding that occurs during the miscarriage.
The reason is that during a miscarriage, the cervix may dilate slightly, and this leaves mom open to the possibility of an increased risk of toxic shock syndrome or a uterine infection. However, there are no specific studies showing an increased risk. It's a precaution doctors recommend since a closed cervix can help mom avoid certain infections. The assumption, then, is that one that is slightly dilated removes that protection.
If mom has questions about this part of recovery, she should talk to her doctor. He may be able to offer her more specific details based on her situation.
10 Avoid Douching
No matter how unclean mom feels during this process, douching during a miscarriage or two weeks right after is not advised. It goes back to the cervix being slightly dilated and all the risks that can introduce to mom's body.
During a miscarriage, mom is banned from doing many things that help her feel clean and cleansed. However, it's worth the wait to make sure the body is properly healed. Anything that enters the vagina poses a risk to mom's body when it's already compromised, and that is not worth it. Douching, no matter what kind of cleansing feelings it offers mom, can be a potential problem.
To feel clean during the bleeding, mom should change pads often and wipe down down there. Showers also help, as does wearing clothes that are comfortable.
9 No Pools
Mom will probably not feel like much hopping in the pool anyway, but for women who swim for stress relief and exercise, a miscarriage will derail their plans for a bit. Due to chemicals in the water and the inability to wear tampons to absorb miscarriage blood, women cannot swim in a pool until after the miscarriage bleeding stops.
After the bleeding stops and mom can resume normal activity, swimming can help her be physically active again. In fact, walking or any other exercise may help her reset emotionally and physically after such a trying time.
Though pools are off limits, most doctors don't require women to give up baths. Each doctor is different, and some ask mom to stick to showers until the bleeding is over, but others are fine with baths immediately after the miscarriage. Mom needs to ask to verify for sure.
8 Avoid Intimacy
It's likely neither partner will feel like being intimate after going through such a loss. Each person will be dealing with their own feelings, and the emotional impact can make each partner physically exhausted. However, should mom and dad desire intimacy as a way to connect them during loss, they will have to wait until the bleeding from the miscarriage is over.
The same that is true for using tampons or douching is true for intimacy: nothing should go in the vagina during the miscarriage bleeding. The chance for infection is increased due to cervical dilation. It's not a good idea to add any extra factors to the recovery process, and introducing anything into the vagina does just that.
Partners can talk and hold each other, but they should save all forms of intimacy for later and talk to a doctor about when it's safe to try to conceive again.
7 Take Antibiotics
Mom will likely be given antibiotics to further reduce the risk of post-miscarriage infections. Even if mom feels fine and thinks she no longer is at risk for infection, it's important for her to finish the medication she is prescribed. If she doesn't, she may have to be put back on more antibiotics, and that can lead to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut that can compromise mom's immune system.
While on antibiotics, mom should also take a probiotic. Probiotics will help mom keep some of the good bacteria in her gut while the antibiotics work. This will give mom an immune system lift, something she needs while suffering through a miscarriage.
If mom starts feeling sick from the medication she is taking, she can eat before consuming it to lessen the chances of it upsetting her stomach. She can also call her doctor to see if there is something milder she can take.
6 Eat A Healthy Diet Full Of Iron
A miscarriage means losing a child, and with that comes losing a lot of blood. Mom may bleed for days or weeks, and her body is going to feel the effects of this blood loss. Eating hearty foods that are full of iron, such as chicken, red meat, and eggs, is a good way to ensure mom's iron levels don't fall so low she becomes anemic.
Doctors can also prescribe iron supplements if they feel mom needs them, but a nourishing diet rich in vitamins may help mom solve a ton of problems without special supplements.
Though eating may be hard, and mom may feel too nauseated or sad to enjoy a meal, even consuming soups full of vegetables or smoothies with protein powder can help mom's body mend. These foods will build her system back up and help her physically bounce back from this loss better, though the emotional part will take much more time.
5 Stay On A Prenatal Vitamin
The thought of taking a prenatal, a vitamin meant to prepare the body to carry a child, while having a miscarriage may be difficult. However, there are real reasons to continue taking it.
For one, the vitamins are full of nutrients mom's body needs, especially as she is suffering through the loss of a child. Prenatals can have iron to help combat anemia, and they also offer a list of vitamins mom's body needs for everyday function.
Prenatals may also offer benefits to mom mentally. Because they can contain magnesium and other vitamins known to help balance brain function, they can help mom cope with the stages of grief she will go through.
Plus, for women who hope to conceive again eventually, staying on a prenatal helps ensure the child they conceive in the future will have the best start in life. The folic acid in prenatal vitamins helps protect babies from spinal cord defects that they can develop during the first trimester.
4 Use Herbs
Once it is confirmed that mom is, in fact, having a miscarriage, she can talk to her doctor or midwife about taking herbs to help speed up the recovery process. Anglica root helps mom's immune and nervous system while also helping with circulation and reproductive health. It can also help with anxiety.
Black cohosh can help relax the uterus, which makes the pain of a miscarriage a bit less. In fact, black cohosh may even help speed up the process of loss in the body. St. John's wort helps with emotions, but it is also an anti-inflammatory, and chaste tree berry will help the pituitary gland. That means mom should resume normal periods faster and be able to chart her ovulation to help her become pregnant again.
As is true with anything mom consumes, she needs to talk to her doctor. Though herbs are generally safe, every woman's experience and situation is different, and her doctor or midwife needs to know for sure what she is taking.
3 Get Some Acupuncture
Acupuncture has many healing benefits, and it can relax mom easing the pain of her miscarriage and allowing her body to pass blood without as much aching throughout. Acupuncture is also becoming a holistic partner for women trying to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term.
For women who receive in-vitro fertilization, acupuncture can reduce the risk of miscarriage by more than 10%. While this study was only done on women receiving IVF, it's possible for there to be benefits to any woman trying to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. Acupuncture reduces stress, and due to the detrimental effect stress has on the body, it makes sense that lessening it will help mom.
Most doctors and midwives support acupuncture, though it's good to check with them about having it while miscarrying. The way acupuncture relaxes the body should help the miscarriage along with less pain to mom.
2 Prepare For A D&C
Depending on when in the pregnancy the miscarriage occurs, some women have to go through a medical procedure called a D&C. This is dilation and curettage, it's an operation where a doctor will induce a woman to dilate in order to remove tissue from a woman's uterus.
For some women this procedure helps them with certain uterine conditions like heavy bleeding, but in this case it's to remove dead tissue from a miscarriage. The D&C is only used get rid of the tissue if the woman's body isn't capable of expelling the tissue itself. In most cases doctors want to prevent hemorrhaging and infection.
Women who undergo a D&C are at risk for adverse reactions to the anesthesia, infections in other pelvic organs, possible puncture to the uterus, scarring of the uterine wall or cervix and a weakened cervix. In a small percentage of cases some women may have to undergo a second D&C to get rid of any tissue left in the womb.
1 Get Rest
After a D&C or even taking a round of anitiotics, a woman who's experiencing a miscarriage may need to physically rest up to heal and take it easy since her body has just gone through some major trauma. She may not even feel well or have energy in any event, but either way, having some time to rest up can do her a world of good while she tries to re-cooperate.
During this rest period she can also deal with any emotional and relationship trauma she's going through as well, as long as it doesn't take a toll on her well being and she has a good support system in place to help her through this ordeal.
If you would rest and relax during a flu or another illness, then whatever you do, rest and relax after a miscarriage as well. This isn't going to get better on it's own, your body needs time to fix itself and to get back on track, a miscarriage has just disrupted you from head to toe, so do take the time you feel is necessary to feel better as soon as you can.