Miscarriage: Care Instructions
For some, the loss of a pregnancy can be very hard. You may wonder why it happened. Miscarriages are common and are not caused by exercise, stress, or sex. Most happen because the fertilized egg in the uterus does not develop normally.
There is no treatment that can stop a miscarriage. If you are having a miscarriage, you have several options. As long as you do not have heavy blood loss, fever, weakness, or other signs of infection, you can let a miscarriage follow its own course. This can take several days. If you don't want to wait, you can take medicine to help the pregnancy tissue pass. Or you can have a surgical procedure to remove the tissue.
Your body will recover over the next several weeks. Having a miscarriage does not mean you cannot have a normal pregnancy in the future.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- You will probably have some vaginal bleeding for 1 to 2 weeks. It may be similar to or slightly heavier than a normal period. The bleeding should get lighter after a week. Use sanitary pads until you stop bleeding. Using pads makes it easier to monitor your bleeding.
- Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) for cramps. Talk to your doctor before you take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label. You may have cramps for several days after the miscarriage.
- Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor or midwife told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
- Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.
- You may return to your normal activities if you feel well enough to do so.
- If you would like to try to get pregnant again, it is usually safe whenever you feel ready. Talk with your doctor about any future pregnancy plans.
- If you do not want to get pregnant, ask your doctor or midwife about birth control. You can get pregnant again before your next period starts if you are not using birth control.
- You may be low in iron because of blood loss. Eat a balanced diet that is high in iron and vitamin C. Foods rich in iron include red meat, shellfish, eggs, beans, and leafy green vegetables. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, and broccoli. Talk to your doctor about whether you need to take iron pills or a multivitamin.
- For some, the loss of a pregnancy can be very hard. You may have a range of emotions. If you need help coping, talking to family members, friends, a counsellor, or your doctor may help.
When should you call for help?
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have severe vaginal bleeding. You are passing blood clots and soaking through a pad each hour for 4 or more hours.
- Your vaginal bleeding seems to be getting heavier, or you pass blood clots larger than the size of a golf ball for more than 4 hours.
- You are vomiting or cannot keep fluids down.
- You have new or more belly pain.
- You have a fever.
- You have signs of infection, such as headache, muscle aches, or dizziness. Even if you don't have a fever, you might still have a severe infection.
- You have vaginal discharge that has increased in amount and smells bad.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
- You don't have any bleeding. This may mean that the medicines aren't working.
- Your bleeding lasts longer than 2 weeks.
- You have new symptoms that might be caused by the medicines.
- You have feelings of sadness and grief that are getting in the way of your daily life. You might need medicines or counselling to treat depression.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter E802 in the search box to learn more about "Miscarriage: Care Instructions".
Adaptation Date: 2/28/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services