Pregnancy following a miscarriage can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions. While miscarriages are unfortunately quite common, occurring in approximately 10-20 percent of pregnancies, they can often make the miracle of pregnancy feel like it’s lost some of its innocence. An experience that was once only filled with excitement and joy is now riddled with anxiety, questions, lingering grief and doubts. Here are some common concerns and questions you may have if you are trying to get pregnant again following a miscarriage.
Why did it happen to me?
One of the most difficult aspects of having a miscarriage can be the feeling of not understanding why it happened. Having answers or a reason why something has happened can sometimes make it easier to accept and move forward. With miscarriages, there is often no explanation, leaving the parents feeling bewildered and distraught. In most cases, miscarriages occur because the fetus is not developing properly or there is a chromosomal abnormality. The abnormalities occur by chance as the embryo develops and have nothing to do with anything you did or did not do during or before your pregnancy. It is rare that a miscarriage happens due to something inherently wrong with the mother’s health or habits. Typically, in these uncommon cases there is an existing health condition such as poorly controlled diabetes or an undiagnosed uterine problem. More often than not, the cause is unknown.
Will it happen again?
Because most miscarriages are typically due to unexplained and random chromosomal abnormalities, your chances of having another miscarriage remain about the same as your previous pregnancy: between 10 and 20 percent. However, only approximately 2 percent of women have two miscarriages in a row, so you can take comfort in knowing that the chances of this occurring are rare. Most women fortunately go on to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.
Is there anything I can do to prevent it?
Unfortunately, because miscarriages are often due to random chromosomal abnormalities or the fetus not developing properly, there is usually nothing that can be done to prevent their occurrence. However, there are measures that you can take prior to and during pregnancy to help ensure a healthy, full-term pregnancy for you and baby. These include:
- Starting a regular prenatal vitamin regimen several months prior to trying to conceive
- Eliminating unhealthy habits like smoking, alcohol, recreational drug use and excessive caffeine consumption before trying to get pregnant
- Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a nutritious and balanced diet
- Avoiding risky activities, contact sports and other scenarios in which you might experience abdominal trauma.
Am I ready to be pregnant again?
This is a question that only you (and your partner) can truly answer. Miscarriages can be physically and emotionally trying and allowing yourself time to grieve the loss of your baby is an important step towards healing. It is not uncommon to feel sadness, anger, confusion, and even guilt following the loss of a pregnancy. Take the time necessary to process your grief, whatever that time frame may be.
How long do I need to wait before trying to get pregnant again?
Following a miscarriage, it’s not uncommon to be wondering when you can try to get pregnant again. For many women, the urge to become pregnant again with a viable pregnancy becomes quite strong following a loss. If you are eager to conceive again after your miscarriage, talk to your doctor or midwife to determine when it is safe for you to try again. Typically, you will be advised not to have sex for two weeks following the miscarriage to prevent infection. If you do not experience any complications, your period should return within six weeks and your cycle should return to normal. Although many doctors and midwives will advise you to wait one or two menstrual cycles before trying to conceive, some research suggests that there is no medical need to wait.
What will I do if it happens again?
If you do experience more than one miscarriage, it is a good idea to ask your doctor or midwife about having additional testing done to rule out any underlying medical issues that may be causing them to occur. This may include hormone imbalances, uterine fibroids, obstructions in the fallopian tubes, autoimmune disorders and other medical issues affecting fertility and pregnancy. Tests that your doctor or midwife might order include bloodwork, ultrasounds, chromosomal tests, and other exams and procedures to rule out problems with uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes.
How can I process the grief I’m experiencing?
It’s not uncommon to feel alone in your grief following a miscarriage as they are unfortunately often not a subject that is openly discussed. Particularly if the loss occurred before you had shared the news of your pregnancy with family and friends, you might feel as though you have no one to turn to as you process your grief. The grief that accompanies the loss of a pregnancy should not be experienced alone. Reach out to friends and family members who can support you during this time and who may have even experienced loss themselves. Seek out online support forums for women who have experienced a miscarriage to connect and hear stories of hope and future pregnancies. Let your partner know how they can best support you during this time whether it’s simply through listening or through creating some sort of small memorial honoring your baby in your home. Talk, write, cry, listen, hug and grieve as long as you need to in order to move past this difficult time in your life.
Trying to conceive and becoming pregnant following a miscarriage can be a scary and confusing journey. Take comfort in knowing that most women will go on to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies following a miscarriage. For more information about coping with loss, pregnancy, natural birth, the postpartum period and infant care, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife. We would love to support you in your journey.