Women who experience a miscarriage often suffer in silence. Not only can the internalization of so many complicated feelings hurt emotionally, but it can also prevent you from receiving the help and treatment you need. The social stigma surrounding miscarriages makes those who experience one less likely to research possible complications and seek help from a medical professional if needed.
Most first-trimester miscarriages are without negative effects because the baby has not developed fully. Having a miscarriage later in your pregnancy or having one with certain medical histories can put you at risk for some dangerous complications. If a medical professional can address the complication, they may even be able to pinpoint the source behind the miscarriage and eliminate it.
This article explores 15 complications that can happen after a miscarriage but nobody talks about. Not all of these complications are strictly physical: emotional disorders like depression or anxiety can result after a miscarriage and you need to seek help just as much if you have them.
If you think you might have any of these complications, see a doctor and ask for their opinion. Although not all are deadly, they can inhibit your ability to get pregnant later or decrease your quality of life. You owe it to yourself to seek help immediately and receive medical treatment, even if you don't feel like you do right now.
15 Incomplete Miscarriage
Incomplete miscarriages can be a source of pain that keeps your mind on the trauma long after you discover you miscarried. When your uterus retains some tissue from the pregnancy, you may notice excessive bleeding or cramping. If you're still experiencing these symptoms two weeks after the fact, you might have an incomplete miscarriage.
Sometimes incomplete miscarriages resolve on their own, but after two weeks, you need to talk to a doctor. They may recommend a D&C (dilation and curettage) to remove the unnecessary tissue. In this procedure, your clinician opens the cervix and removes the contents of the uterus to prevent further bleeding.
Not every situation requires a D&C. About 50% of women who miscarry choose to have this procedure done. In most every situation, the decision is a personal one.
14 Anxiety Disorders
Most people know to look for signs of depression after miscarriages and forget about anxiety disorders, yet they can inhibit your life satisfaction just as much as major depressive disorder. Miscarriages can double the risk of developing an anxiety disorder, particularly social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder. Even worse, of all these women who qualify for a diagnosis, only one in four seek treatment.
If you're anxious all the time and the feeling just won't go away, reach out to resources that can help you. Start individual counselling or join a support group for mothers who have miscarried or experienced a stillbirth. If you don't have a local group, an online group might help. Sometimes, in addition to counselling, medication might help you cope with and manage difficult feelings.
Take care of yourself during this difficult time. Do something every day that relaxes you and takes your mind off things, whether that's reading a good book, going on a walk, or whatever else calms you down.
13 Septic Miscarriage
Although rare, septic miscarriages are medical emergencies. If you recognize the symptoms, you must seek treatment immediately. Septic shock is an infection that overtakes your body and causes your blood pressure to drop dangerously low. If you have an damaged or inhibited immune system, you may be especially at risk for this complication.
If you've recently miscarried and you notice extremes in body temperature (high or low) coupled with painful, heavy bleeding; low blood pressure; low blood pressure with a rapid heart rate; or any of these symptoms, go to the hospital right away. Although septic shock can be treated if caught early, if left undetected, it becomes deadly fast.
12 Nausea Or Vomiting
Sometimes, especially during the first trimester, it is hard to distinguish between morning sickness and miscarriage symptoms or side-effects. When accompanied alongside vaginal bleeding, nausea can be a minor miscarriage complication. Unlike some symptoms, nausea is not necessarily a dangerous sign (unless accompanied by severe pain or fevers) but it can be emotionally and physically hard to deal with.
Why do you feel so ill? Blame the excess of hormones still in your body. Even though you are no longer pregnant, your body will still need to adjust back to previous levels. With time, your hormones will balance but until then, you may have an upset stomach. You may also feel a little bloated until your hormone levels lower.
As long as these symptoms last for around a week, you have no cause for concern. If they continue through two or even three, call a doctor so you can pinpoint a source.
Bleeding is a natural part of the miscarriage process as your body rids itself of tissue in the uterus during pregnancy. Yet you should not notice excessive bleeding to the point where you feel drained or lightheaded. If so, you may be hemorrhaging and require serious medical attention.
After a miscarriage, you may experience bleeding with large clots and a heavy flow. This is normal. Generally miscarriage bleeding lasts for several days, so if you notice you are bleeding longer than that, get in touch with your clinician as soon as possible.
Keep this rule of thumb in mind: if you are going through one menstrual pad in less than an hour, go to the doctor immediately. You are losing way too much blood for it to be healthy and may be hemorrhaging. If doctors catch a hemorrhage early, they can give you medical treatment you need but if you wait, this complication can be fatal.
10 Moderate To Severe Back Pain
Everyone experiences a little back pain during pregnancy. If your back pain becomes severe, however, you may be experiencing a miscarriage (especially if paired with cramping and bleeding). Miscarriage backaches generally begin in the lower stomach or pelvic area and radiate up into the lower back. If you notice this pattern, look for other signs.
When you are already going through so much emotional turmoil, backaches should be the least of your worries. You can take steps to make the pain a little less severe or easier to manage. Talk to your doctor about prescribing pain medication if your needs warrant it, or ice and heat your back as needed. Try your best to get a little sleep and give your back a good night's rest.
9 Recurring Miscarriages
Sometimes the complications of earlier miscarriages can cause others later on. One percent of pregnant women will experience more than one miscarriage during their live, some to the point where their body has underlying complications that prevent them from carrying a baby full term. Known as recurrent or repeated miscarriages, recurrent miscarriages may prevent you from carrying a baby until the issue is resolved.
For the first miscarriage, you may not know what the reason is. If you start noticing a pattern, however, and have two, three, or more miscarriages, talk to a medical professional. You may need to undergo testing to rule out potential reasons. Once you've found the cause, you may be able to have a baby without future trouble.
In fifty percent of all cases, however, there is no reason for recurrent miscarriages. They could be anything from stress to something the doctors haven't quite noticed. If doctors cannot find a cause and you feel shame, know that no matter what, this miscarriage was not your fault.
8 Stressed Out
No wonder you're stressed! After a miscarriage, anyone would be. You may feel sorrow that you lost who you thought would be a new addition to your family. You might also worry that you somehow caused the miscarriage or that you will continue miscarrying in the future. All these questions, none of which are easily answered, can eat away at a person until the stress kills them.
Know the difference between healthy stress, however, and distress. If you can't focus or do your daily routine without the stress getting to you, consider talking to your doctor about treatment options. They may suggest that you look into counselling or medication, and they may have resources to help you cope through the grief process.
In some cases, miscarriages can also cause PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. If you're experiencing long-lasting trauma after your miscarriage and experience significant anxiety to the point where you are seriously inhibited, seek help. Reach out to friends and family, and look for medical or counselling resources.
7 Bad Cramping
Cramping doesn't always mean miscarriage, but it is a common sign that you're experiencing one. In the first trimester, cramping can be a symptom that makes pregnant moms worry. Minor cramps and aches do not result from miscarriages. The severity of the pain is much higher in miscarriage cramps and usually is accompanied by nausea, spotting, and possibly pain in other body parts like the back.
In most cases, cramping after a miscarriage is normal and nothing to worry about. When should you seek medical attention? If you are constantly cramping without any pauses or your bleeding is heavy enough to think you may be hemorrhaging, drive to the hospital ASAP. Your life is worth getting it checked out, even if you think it's harmless.
6 Getting An Infection
Up to three percent of women may develop an infection after miscarrying. Because of retained tissue in the uterus, your body might reject the uterine lining. Bacteria in the tissues may start an infection, with symptoms ranging from a mild headache to raging fevers.
Generally, post-miscarriage infections are treated easily. If you talk to your doctor, they can prescribe antibiotics which can clear up the infection without any complications. In most situations, you will not need emergency care for an infection unless you exhibit severe symptoms.
Contact your doctor if after a few weeks, it still does not clear up or you notice your symptoms worsening. They can assess the situation and, based on other symptoms, decide how to best treat your infection.
After a traumatic event like miscarriage, you may have a hard time getting to bed. Researchers have found a definite link between sadness and sleep. The more unhappy you are, the more likely you will develop insomnia. Women are more likely to develop insomnia than men, particularly during times of great stress or anguish.
Your best bet is to get seven to nine hours of restful sleep. If you can't manage anything near that without feeling restless, you may want to consider trying relaxation exercises, meditating, or keeping yourself busy during the day so you are ready to rest at night.
Nothing working? Your doctor may be able to put you on a sleeping medication. Sometimes sleeping pills can help you get back into the rhythm of healthy sleep. Just be careful with them.
4 Relationship Tension
After the miscarriage, your spouse will want to be there for you and support you through the grief. Like in every situation, though, they might not always know what the right thing to do is. Your spouse may be just as unhappy as you about the miscarriage and unsure how to better the situation. It can be frustrating when neither of you can escape the situation, resulting in tension and serious miscommunication.
Remember, though, that you've got to take care of each other right now more than other. Your spouse may show it differently, but he's likely hurting as much as you. He's just better at hiding it. Rely on each other right now to get through the emotions and put your smaller arguments aside. You need each other more than ever in this moment.
3 Asherman Syndrome
Asherman Syndrome is a rare complication after a woman has received her D&C procedure. Some women may also develop it due to infection, though this is more rare. Scar tissue, known as adhesions, can form in the uterus and cause miscarriages and fertility trouble later on. These will most likely stay unless medically attended to, but you may want to get medical ASAP.
Symptoms of Asherman Syndrome include light or infrequent periods and multiple miscarriages. If you are diagnosed with Asherman syndrome, a surgeon can remove the adhesions so you can try for a child once more.
2 Uterine Perforation
Uterine perforation is painful, dangerous, and more common than you think following a miscarriage. Perforation occurs when any injury occurs to the blood vessels surrounding the uterus, such as those in the intestines or bladder. Women with uterine perforations may experience severe abdominal pain, bleeding, and fevers.
If not treated early, uterine perforation can develop into hemorrhages or shock. Go to a doctor as soon as you experience intense pain and bleeding and get to the bottom of it before you put your mind at ease. Some of these complications can be treated over time but uterine perforations are serious enough to warrant treatment as soon as you can.
Sometimes, we can experience depression and not even realize it. Major depressive syndrome is a common concern for women who have miscarried as they may not have experienced this acute of grief before and feel lost. If you have no interest in what used to make you happy or you feel tired all the time, you may have depression.
Please, please, get help. Get help for the sake of your family, your loved ones, and most of all: yourself. Grief is normal and a part of healing. Depression will not help you recover. Talk to a counselor or support group to brainstorm ways of overcoming your depression at a comfortable pace.
If you have thoughts of suicide or self-harm, call a local crisis line. Miscarriages are painful, maybe one of the hardest things there is, but you don't want to make a decision you could regret. Take care of yourself and get help.