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After Your Miscarriage

Your Body

​​​​​Your body is going through some big changes and will need time to heal and recover. Make time to rest and feel better.

Symptoms to Watch For:

See your family doctor or go to the closest emergency department right away if you:

  • have much heavier bleeding than a regular period (soak through a thick maxi pad in 1 hour, for more than 2 hours in a row)
  • pass blood clots bigger than an egg
  • have very bad pain in the abdomen
  • have a fever over 38 °C (100.5 °F) for more than 4 hours after taking acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®)
  • have vaginal discharge that’s smells bad

Symptoms You May Experience

Vaginal Bleeding and Cramping

It’s normal to have bleeding after a miscarriage, but the amount is different for everyone. You might have little or 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 might pass clots or tissue. The bleeding can last from 1 day to 1 month after a miscarriage.

You may have cramping for up to 10 days. It can be mild cramps or cramps like when you have your period. To help with the pain, take ibuprofen (e.g., Advil®) or acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®) as directed on the bottle, and provided you do not have allergies to these medications, or use a heating pad or hot pack.

Breast Tenderness and Milk Supply

After a pregnancy loss, it’s normal to have tender breasts and nipples. This can be difficult for some mothers and is a reminder of their loss. If your pregnancy was over 14 weeks, breast milk may come in 2 to 5 days after your loss. It can feel like pressure and/or fullness and can last for a few days or weeks.

To try to make yourself more comfortable:

  • wear a supportive bra – no binding
  • use breast pads to soak up leaking milk
  • take pain medicine like acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (e.g., Advil®)
  • take a shower and let your breasts leak to relieve pressure, but don’t let the water get too hot or your breasts will hurt more

Currently there is no medication approved for milk suppression. To reduce your milk supply:

  • don’t pump or regularly express milk—if you do, your body will keep making milk
  • put cold compresses on the breasts for 15 minutes, then leave off for at least 45 minutes (e.g., cloth-covered ice pack, bag of frozen peas). You can do this a few times a day

Other Body Changes

After a miscarriage, you may have nausea and/or diarrhea. It’s caused by hormone changes or from medicine given during a D&C. It usually gets better within 1 or 2 days. If you have bad ​nausea, talk to your pharmacist about any over-the-counter medicines 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 counsellor. You may also benefit from a support group where you can meet others who have experienced a similar loss.

Your Body Returning to Normal

You’ll likely have a period 4 to 6 weeks after your miscarriage. It’s a good idea to let your body heal physically and emotionally before you think about trying to get pregnant again. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions.

You can do all of your regular activities (e.g., work, school, exercise, driving) as soon as you feel ready. For 2 weeks after a miscarriage, don’t have sex, don’t use a tampon, and do not douche because there’s a risk of infection if you put anything into the vagina. If you have questions, talk to your doctor or health care provider.

When you start having sex, think about using a form of birth control until you have healed physically and emotionally before considering another pregnancy.

Emotional Support - Family and Friends

Let close family and friends help during this time. Often friends and family will know you’re grieving, but they may not know how to support you. Let them know one or two ways they can best support you (e.g., prepare meals, talk about the loss, or come for visits). It’s okay to talk about what you want and need so they can support you. You’ll likely need time to grieve rest, heal, and connect with your partner.

Emotional Support - From a Professional

Let your healthcare provider know if you’d like support from a social worker, spiritual care advisor, aboriginal hospital liaison worker, or a leader from a cultural or spiritual community. A spiritual care advisor can help arrange for any practices, rituals, or connections with community leaders that you might need. You or your family members may also want to go to a sacred space or a place for spiritual support.

Going Home

Going home after a loss can be very emotional. The experience can feel sudden, unexpected, or even like a bad dream. Once you’re at home, you may notice you feel many different emotions including sadness, anger or frustration. Some parents say coming home after the loss they feel alone and empty inside. For some families, taking the baby home for a short time is an important part of grieving. If this is something you would like to do, talk to your health professional. Journaling or making your own memory book can also help.

If you continue to feel sad or tired, talk to your healthcare provider. It might also help to see a grief counsellor, bereavement coordinator, or go to a support group and talk to other parents who have also had a loss.

Over the next few days, you may need to rest or go to the hospital or clinic for an appointment. This is important, but it may be difficult to arrange the time off. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need some time off from work or school.

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Current as of: August 18, 2017

Author: Women’s Health, Alberta Health Services