Some miscarriages come when a woman has suspected that something wasn’t right; for others, miscarriage comes out of the blue and abruptly ends a seemingly normal pregnancy.
Whatever the situation, the aftermath of a miscarriage can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Here is what to expect, as well as advice on coping and recovering, both physically and mentally.
Ultrasound to Diagnose Miscarriage
Whenever a woman calls to report significant vaginal bleeding or other symptoms of miscarriage to her doctor, an ultrasound will usually be scheduled. Ultrasound is the quickest way for doctors to diagnose whether a miscarriage has actually occurred.
Dilation and Curettage (D&C)
If an ultrasound shows that the fetus already has been or will be aborted, the doctor needs to make sure that all of the other pregnancy matter is expelled from the uterus. Leftover fetal or placental tissue from pregnancy can cause serious infection. For this reason, he or she may recommend a D&C.
A dilation and curettage involves opening the opening of the uterus and scraping out the lining of the uterus with a thin, sharp instrument.
Is a D&C Necessary for Every Miscarried Pregnancy?
It is important for women to know that a D&C is not always necessary after a miscarriage. Unless there is a compelling reason to perform a D&C immediately, women are better off waiting a week before undergoing the procedure. In most cases, the body will expel all the pregnancy matter itself naturally and a D&C will not be necessary. D&Cs carry the possibility of infection and uterine scarring that can make it harder to get pregnant again.
Lab Tests to Verify Miscarriage is Complete
A week or two after the miscarriage, doctors may perform any number of lab tests to confirm whether the uterus is completely empty (i.e: the miscarriage is complete.) These include:
- urine pregnancy test
- hCG blood test
- follow-up ultrasound
Self-Care and Physical Recovery from Miscarriage
During and after the miscarriage, women can expect to be tired and should avoid strenuous physical activity. Most importantly, they should take it easy and let their body tell them when it’s time to take a break or lie down.
Women should report fever or discharge to their doctors, as well as any pain or bleeding that continues after the miscarriage is complete. These could be signs of infection.
Emotional Recovery after a Miscarriage
Losing a pregnancy is always distressing, especially when a couple has been trying hard to conceive beforehand. While time is the biggest factor in successful emotional recovery, there are other resources for helping women and their partners cope.
Many hospitals offer free pregnancy loss support groups, where parents in similar situations can meet weekly to help each other through their miscarriages. Talking to friends and family, especially those who have been through a miscarriage themselves, may also help. Women with partners should realize that their spouse is also dealing with grief and loss; working through it together can bring a couple closer together, while trying to handle it alone can drive them apart.