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Incomplete Miscarriage: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

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 because all of the tissue related to pregnancy is not shed from the uterus. An incomplete miscarriage often requires treatment. Medicine or a procedure call dilation and curettage (D&C) 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 pads instead of tampons. You may use tampons during your next period, which should start in 3 to 6 weeks.
  • 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.
  • Your doctor or midwife may ask you to use a clear container to save any tissue or clots that you pass. Take it to your doctor or midwife's office right away.
  • Do not have sex until the bleeding stops.
  • You may return to your normal activities if you feel well enough to do so. But you should avoid heavy exercise until the bleeding stops.
  • 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.
  • The loss of a pregnancy can be very hard. Give yourself and your partner time to grieve. Even if your miscarriage occurred very early, you may still have feelings of loss. You may wonder why it happened and blame yourself.
    • Talking to family members, friends, or a counsellor may help you cope with your loss.
    • If your feelings of sadness last longer than 2 weeks, tell your doctor, midwife, or a counsellor.

When should you call for help?

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

  • You have sudden, severe pain in your belly.
  • 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.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor, midwife, or nurse call line if:

  • You are bleeding more than you would with a normal period.
  • You do not get better as expected.
  • You have any new symptoms, such as a fever.
  • You have vaginal discharge that smells bad.

Where can you learn more?

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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.