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Incomplete Miscarriage: Care Instructions

Overview

A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 20 weeks. Miscarriages are very common. Most happen because the fertilized egg in the uterus does not develop normally. Stress, exercise, or sex does not cause a miscarriage.

While many miscarriages pass on their own, some do not. These are called incomplete miscarriages and missed miscarriages. With an incomplete miscarriage, some of the pregnancy tissue stays in the uterus after a miscarriage. With a missed miscarriage, all of the tissue stays in the uterus after a miscarriage. Incomplete and missed miscarriages often require treatment. Medicine or a surgical procedure is used to clear the tissue from the uterus.

If your blood type is Rh negative, ask your doctor or midwife if you need a shot of Rh immune globulin (WinRho) to prevent problems in future pregnancies.

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 call line 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 vaginal bleeding for 1 to 2 weeks after treatment. It may be similar to or slightly heavier than a normal period. 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), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve), for cramps. You may have cramps for several days after the miscarriage. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • 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.
  • 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. Talk to your doctor or midwife 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. Even if your miscarriage occurred very early, you may still have feelings of loss.
    • If you need help coping, talking to family members, friends, or a counsellor may help.
    • If you have feelings of sadness that last longer than 2 weeks, tell your doctor or a counsellor.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor, midwife, or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe vaginal bleeding. This means that you are soaking through your usual pads every hour for 2 or more hours.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have new or increased pain in your belly or pelvis.
  • You pass tissue, not just blood.
  • You feel depressed or are not able to function.

The type of treatment you have will affect what you should watch closely for. Be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You were given medicine to help the pregnancy tissue pass, and you don't bleed or pass tissue within 24 hours after taking the medicine.
  • You had a surgical procedure to help remove pregnancy tissue, and you still feel pregnant 1 week after the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.