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Preparing To Conceive After A Miscarriage

dona October 21, 2013

Preparing To Conceive After A Miscarriage

Photo by Doña Bumgarner.

This summer I sat on an exam table in an ER in Denver and heard a phrase I had hoped never to hear: “I’m very sorry, but we can’t find a heartbeat.”

I was in the ER after a car accident, where they confirmed that I was only bruised, not badly injured, but that the baby I was carrying had died perhaps a week earlier, at nine weeks gestation. The doctor called it a “missed miscarriage,” which is when the fetus has died but the mother’s body hasn’t yet shown any of the usual signs of miscarriage such as cramping or bleeding. My body still felt pregnant, but the baby was gone.

I declined the Misoprostol and D&C and flew home to let my body complete the process naturally. It took another couple of weeks, a round of acupuncture and Chinese herbs and a dramatic onslaught of bleeding before the fetus finally passed from my body.

Several months have now passed and I have learned a great deal about how to heal both the body and the heart after the loss of a pregnancy.

If you find yourself in this lonely and tender place, I hope the information in this article will help support you in preparing to conceive again.

 

Support Your Body In Healing

Miscarriage is a traumatic experience for the body, as well as the heart. In my case, I experienced labor-like contractions for several days before the actual miscarriage, during which I had significant blood loss. I then had follow-on complications which required medical support, including a round of heavy-duty antibiotics.

After a miscarriage you may feel surprisingly postpartum, with extended bleeding, a roller coaster of hormones and emotions, and bone-tired exhaustion. You may have night sweats or other trouble sleeping. It can be beneficial to supplement with additional Iron and Vitamin D and may also be a good idea to take extra Vitamin C and Echinacea to ward off infections. It is a good idea to stay hydrated and eat protein-rich, healthy and simple foods. Check with your doctor to see what he or she recommends for your particular situation.

Let yourself rest as much as you need to – your body has been through a lot and is in recovery. You may need to sleep longer and nap or sit down more often. Too much strenuous activity will wear you out quickly and may increase your bleeding significantly. You may need some extra help during this time to keep up with household obligations. The six-week recovery period recommended for recovery after birth very much applies after a miscarriage.

During those six weeks, take precautions to avoid an infection. My doctor warned me against intercourse until the bleeding subsided, but other sources also warn against hot tubs, douching and even baths. Even if you follow all of the precautions, as I did, your body may retain some tissue that could trigger an infection. Watch for the warning signs, which include cramping or tenderness in the uterus and abdomen, fever, or foul-smelling discharge. See a doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

Preparing To Conceive After Miscarriage

Photo by Doña Bumgarner.

Process Your Grief

After my miscarriage, I felt angry for a long time before I felt sad. I worried that I was somehow at fault, that I had done something or failed to do something that put the pregnancy at risk. I was ashamed that my body had failed to keep this baby alive. I worried that I was too old to have another viable pregnancy. I was afraid I might not want to try again and risk another loss. I pulled away from my partner and grew impatient with my toddler daughter. I was angry at my body for the complications and how long it took to heal. It took several months for me to feel like myself again.

The grieving process looks different for everyone and in every situation. There are several things that may help:

  • Talk to people who have been there. When I miscarried I couldn’t think of anyone I knew who had experienced this kind of loss. But when I started talking to my friends about my experience I found out that several of them had recently miscarried and I never knew. Not only did those conversations help affirm my feelings, they brought us closer as friends.
  • Create a closing ritual. Whether your loss was very early in the pregnancy or there was a tiny body to bury, give yourself the gift of a ritual to mark your loss and remember your baby. You may want to plant a tree, choose a name for your baby, or create some other memorial.
  • Find someone to talk to. Talk to your partner about your feelings. He will be processing his own grief and sharing your sadness and healing will support for both of you. You may also find support from family, a grief councilor or other therapist, or support groups and forums for women who have experienced loss.
  • Treat depression if needed. If you or people close to you are worried that you are showing signs of deep or ongoing depression, seek treatment. Untreated depression can be dangerous, especially once you conceive again.
  • Give yourself time. Grief has its own timeline. It doesn’t end just because you want it to, or your husband is ready to try again, or your friends think you should be feeling better by now. Allow yourself to feel what you feel for as long as it takes. Be prepared for sadness to come up again at milestones, such as your expected due date, or the date you found out you were pregnant, or the anniversary of the loss.

 

Try Again When You are Ready

Different practitioners offer varying advice on how long to wait before conceiving again. Some say it is safe to try again as soon as the bleeding stops. My OB recommended two months and my midwife suggested three. The main reason for waiting is to allow your body to have at least one normal period before conception, which will allow clear dating of the next pregnancy.

My acupuncturist’s perspective on the healing process was this: The first month allows the body to clear the pregnancy tissue and hormones. The second month allows your cycle to regulate. The third month is for your heart. In my experience it really does take this long, if not longer, to grieve, so this advice makes a lot of sense to me.

Talk to your own practitioners and your partner to determine what is right for you both physically and emotionally.

Preparing To Conceive After A Miscarriage

Photo by Doña Bumgarner.

Prepare For Pregnancy

If you have had repeated miscarriages, it may be a good idea to talk to a professional about testing to identify potential causes of your losses. However, if this was your first miscarriage, the odds are good that you will conceive again easily and have a healthy pregnancy.

Preparing your physical body to conceive after a miscarriage is no different than preparing to conceive at any other time: Eat well, take prenatal supplements, avoid smoking and alcohol, track your cycles so that you know when you are most fertile.

Preparing your heart may take a little more effort. Even if you have made peace with the actual miscarriage, being pregnant again will likely bring up fears and tenderness for you. Many women say that their fears tend to ease after they pass the milestone of the previous loss, but some women experience anxiety all the way through subsequent pregnancies. Talk about your feelings with people you trust and seek help if the anxiety or sadness feels out of control.

Conceiving again after a pregnancy loss takes great courage and faith. These things will be most available to you if you have allowed both your body and your heart adequate support and time to heal.

 

If you have experienced a miscarriage, what did you find most useful in helping you be ready to conceive again?

 

Doña Bumgarner is a mama, writer and blogger.  You can read her struggles and triumphs in practicing self care at Nurtured Mama. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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  1. Dona, I am so sorry. It is not something I ever experienced, but I can only just imagine how devastating it was.
    Love,
    Madeline

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  2. […] Preparing To Conceive After A Miscarriage […]

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  3. I have suffered two losses one at 10weeks after a confirmed heartbeat and one somewhere around 4-5 weeks. They both were devastating but in different ways. The first I had become very attached to the pregnancy because I had known about it for 6 weeks at the time and we had seen the baby on an ultrasound with a heartbeat 5 hours before losing it. Right after that loss I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to try again. It was so painful. 3 years later we started trying again and lost the first baby I became pregnant with. That loss happened a week after we got a positive pregnancy test. This time around I very much wanted to get right back to trying again. I don’t know if it was because I didn’t feel as attached to this baby and/or because I really wanted another baby. We started trying as soon as I stopped bleeding and conceived right away. We are currently almost 13 weeks pregnant with our rainbow baby. But not a day goes by that I don’t think of my two precious babies that I didn’t get to meet here on this earth. I guess I say all of that to say that sometimes each loss is very different and what’s right after one loss may not be after another. Listen to your doctor’s, your body and above all your heart!

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  4. Hi Dona,

    Like you, I have also lost my baby. Actually I’ve had two miscarriages and I’m only 20. After I lost my first one it took such a long time to recover. It honestly took a good three months. I was in such a deep depression. After that I felt compelled to try again knowing I failed the first time. Pregnancy is a tease, it’s not what it is in movies. So why are people so hush hush about miscarriages? Props to you for speaking out.

    Both my loses we’re missed miscarriages. I lost one at 6 weeks and my second at 9. I decided to get genetic testing during my second d&c. Turns out I had a daughter with turners syndrome, very common. I guess when you get pregnant it’s like rolling dice and you don’t always get lucky. Sometimes even two times in a row. That’s what my doctor told me and didn’t tell me anything else.

    The absolute best help in my healing process is talking to complete strangers because they don’t know you and can’t judge. That’s actually what I’m doing right now at 1 in the morning. I honestly just want to relate to someone. The sadness doesn’t ever go away but life just goes on. I think about it everyday. Stay strong and when you do get pregnant don’t feel guilty! It’s not your fault.

    I believe everything happens for a reason. (I know you’ve probably had people tell you that and hate that) In my case it’s different, this whole experience has given me faith in some sort of god or just something. I know my daughter and what I think was my son are in a better place together, whatever that place may be.

    I am now preparing to concieve again actually not now but in the next year or so. If you ask your doctor they will provide minor testing like checking your thyroid and blood pressure etc. I wish you the best of luck conceiving again. Thanks for the great blog post.

    Love,
    Natalie

    Reply

  5. Hi Dona, I appreciate your article as I have experienced that same. All I can say is that, my heart is torn and very sad. Though I try to live my life as nothing happened but deep inside i know, this happened to me ‘twice’ in a year 2013. I felt it is the right time, I felt perfectly happy and i tried again. Just on 7th week both time, it happened to me again. There is no doctor who can clearly state what is wrong with me? or what is wrong here?.I wanna give up and move on but deep down i still have this motivation that says, “keep trying – don’t give up” because i would be disappointing myself as well as my family members. I wanna laugh and make fun of myself for believing myself pregnant. It hurts still.

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  6. I have been married for the past 3years without a child i have look for all kind of help that can make me get pregnant but nothing works, but through an insight i came across Dr.BABA profile at the internet when i was searching for help on how i can get pregnant Quickly i contacted him to help me out, he said he will cast a spell that will make me get pregnant, he cast the spell for me and ask me to go and have sex with my partner so i did to my greatest surprise i became pregnant after some weeks, with so much joy in my heart i want to share this out to everyone in need that i have found favor in the hands of DR.BABA, contact him now to via email : [email protected] or on mobile number on:+2349036348369,Casey Deborah

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  7. […] monthly post on Modern Alternative Pregnancy is live this week. I’m sharing a story there that I haven’t yet talked about in this […]

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  8. Omg after reading through all these ladies comments and u dona and your tragic story its so sad. I recently miscarried a week and a half ago the first couple days after I started bleeding and went to the doctor to confirm I miscarried I wasn’t sad anymore I kinda moved on and I’m beginning to feel like my self again but I catch my self becoming angry with my self for failing but I reapetedly tell my self that its not my fault and sometimes bad things happen to good people and nobody really knows why. I asked my self how could life be so unfair . And what was I thinking trying to get pregnant again with my uncontrollable toddler I started being so negative to my self I guess because this was a planned pregnancy but 8 wks along I saw my nugget on an ultrasound everything seemed perfect blood test perfect but four days later I started spotting from brown to pink to blood.. I immediately went into shock I don’t understand seems as though planned pregnancies are always the ones that miscarry !!??!! I feel your pain ladies you feel lost and miserable and not in control at times and telling your self when will this all end when can. I go to sleep or is the day over yet (sigh) I know this sucks I’m quite terrified to try again but I’m praying and trying to keep my head up and stay strong and positive I’m anxious to try again even though I tell my self y should I maybe I’ll miscarry again and I think of all that could go wrong maybe bcus I didn’t expect this to ever happen at least not to me it stills kills me inside but there is nothing u can do besides move on or try again. I hope all u ladies make it through and don’t give up its hard right now and seems endless but hey it can’t last forever right ?? There is always a rainbow after a storm. Stay strong and know that your not alone and God loves you and our babies are our angels now . We now have our own personal guardian angels. 🙂 god bless u all.

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  9. Hi, I just recently had a miscarriage. It has been two months but I still feel super sad. I keep picking fights with my boyfriend and part of me wants him to be mad at me for not doing what I am supposed to do, protect my kids, but he refuses to even think that it was something either of us could have done. I was 8 weeks along with twins, we had heard the hearts and had already started planning for them. It was the worst day of my life. As soon as the dr came in I knew that it wasn’t good news. I was feeling weird all day then I began bleeding badly.

    This article has helped me a lot. Reading others stories made me feel not so alone and I thank you all for sharing.

    Reply

  10. […] a baby to an opinionated child. I’ve cut off my hair, gutted my wardrobe, launched a class, lost two pregnancies, been in a car crash, started painting again, been very sick, and am finally getting well again. […]

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  11. I miscarried a week ago, still bleeding. It has been a roller coaster. I am good during the day then I get home and think of how my life was planned out and the excitement of the new life that was forming. I was 6 weeks when we saw the heartbeat. Then at 9 weeks I started showing signs. The doctor said it probably died shortly after our ultrasound. It was so unfair seeing my baby on the screen with a beautiful heartbeat then it dying shorty after. I still can’t believe what happened. I think about what could have been every day. I just want my baby back. I didn’t belive in any type of heaven or god, but now i know there has to be something because my baby is an angel watching over me. Thank you ladies for posting your experiences. I read these and it helps me feel not so alone.
    With love

    Reply

  12. […] originally wrote this post in 2013 for Modern Alternative Pregnancy, where I was a contributing writer. I wanted to share it again here, because I think these healing […]

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  13. So grateful all of you had the courage to comment about your story. Sometimes you feel like you are alone in this and all the emotions are overwhelming. I had a miscarriage with our first pregnancy at 6 weeks. For me it was difficult due to the experience I had with my doctor in the process of finding out their was no heartbeat. Not to mention the awful pain I was in from my body starting the process of miscarrying. Seven months later I am starting to try again. I felt so ready to begin again and excited. But when it came to seeing if pregnant again lots of old emotions came rushing back of fear excitement and confusion. I’m so grateful for women like all of you who share their story to remind us we aren’t alone and what we are feeling is normal. Although I am not pregnant yet I know I need to let go and just let life work out the way it’s supposed to. I trust God knows when the right time for my husband and I to have our baby.

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  14. Hi,

    I recently miscarried (last week). Everyone around me keeps telling me that it is very common and happens with everyone and I do not need to worry. I am trying to tell myself the same thing but every time I go pee and I see the clots and the blood I feel sad and depressed and I feel that it was my baby that is now going down the drain.. I want to hold it.. protect it.. but I cannot do anything like that because my baby is long dead even before I could hear his heart.. even before I got a chance to ask myself or my husband “what do you think we are gonna have.. a boy or a girl…” even before I could feel him inside me. So many emotions that I need to control now and tell my self that I need to put them away again where they were… I still somehow want to believe there will be miracle and tomorrow morning when I get up things will be fine.. i wont be bleeding.. no cramps.. my HCG levels are rising and I feel pregnant again.. but I am sure nothing like this is going to happen. I want to believe whatever happened happened for good.. but I cant see what was good here… how to control my heart and brain…. the stories above gave me a hope that one day I will be able to open that box of love and emotions I have in me for my healthy baby.

    Reply

  15. Hi,

    i recently misscarried at about 9 weeks. This is my second pregnancy and it was a complete shock. With my first pregnancy everything went beautifully…i never imagined that this would happen. As soon as we started trying for our second child it happened so quickly almost to a point where I felt lucky because it doesnt happen to a lot of people, only to find out the baby was gone. We never even had a chance to see the heartbeat since the first ultra sound i knew at heart something was wrong. I went through a lot of heavy bleeding and clotting which was very depressing. I’m at the point now where i am waiting for my period to return so we can try to conceieve again even though i am extremley terrified that this might happen again. The hardest part for me was not telling any of my family because we never even had a chance to tell them I was even pregnant. Confiding in strangers helped me the most…turns out a lot of women experience the same thing just no one ever talks about it. Were trying to stay positive as much as we can and im preparing my body for round two with a beautiful healthy baby.

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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