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Being prepared for your first period after a miscarriage and other useful information

Having a miscarriage can be very traumatic and upsetting and it can be easy not to fully realise other things that are common following a miscarriage. One of these things is the first period that a woman has following losing her baby in miscarriage. The first period (menstruation) may be delayed because of an increased level of hormones that are still in the system following the pregnancy. The further along the pregnancy is the more unpredictable the resumption of monthly periods may be.  Typically periods will resume between four and six weeks later and may be a lot heavier and accompanied with more pain than the woman has experienced in the past.

What is a miscarriage?

A miscarriage is the most common way for a pregnancy to be lost and in fact some statistics suggest that between 10 and 20% of all pregnancies end in this way. There will be women who miscarry before they even realise that they are pregnant. Suffering a miscarriage can be very upsetting for expectant parents but it will also take its toll on a woman’s body.

The signs of a first menstrual cycle after miscarriage.

When a woman suffers a miscarriage, her body will attempt to empty the contents of the womb out through the vagina. This process can lead to cramping in the abdomen and severe pain both in the abdomen and often in the lower back. Next a woman may notice that she’s passing blood and that the blood includes tissue and fluid. The pain experienced during miscarriage is easily distinguished from the occasional bouts of pain or spotting that are quite common in pregnancy or in their normal menstrual cycle.

The first period after miscarriage

Whether you have been aware that you were pregnant or not, there will be several tell-tale signs that you are in fact having your first period after a miscarriage.  These may be:

  • A period with a discharge and a strong odour
  • A period that seems heavier than normal
  • A period that last longer than normal
  • A period that feels a lot more painful than normal

Why is my first period after miscarriage so heavy and abnormal?

Following a miscarriage the body may need a month or more to recover. That is because during pregnancy the hormones that are in your body will change and will need sometime to adjust to the fact that you’re no longer pregnant, before you have another menstrual cycle. This is the reason that periods after miscarriage can seem different and unusual.

How long does first period after miscarriage last?

The first period that you have after miscarriage will depend to some extent on how far advanced that pregnancy was.  If you suffered from an irregular menstrual cycle before you got pregnant the chances are your periods will be irregular after your miscarriage. Delay of some 4 to 6 weeks is not at all unusual before the resumption of your periods.

Why is my first period after my miscarriage so painful?

The first period you have after a miscarriage is likely to be more painful and your breasts may also feel tender for a while. There are some things that you can do to help such as:

  • Refraining from having sex
  • Using a heat pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen
  • Avoiding the use of tampons
  • Take over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen
  • Wearing a supportive soft bra.

Your recovery after a miscarriage

The body can recover quickly from a miscarriage and can in fact be ready to release an egg ready for fertilisation in just two weeks.  However your body and hormone levels may take longer, as long as six weeks, to get back to normal.  It is best to avoid sexual activity for a fortnight after a miscarriage so that you don’t suffer any complications or pain. If you do not intend to get pregnant again immediately it’ll be fine for you to start any contraceptive as soon as you like.

What are the common causes of miscarriage?

 Often it will be very difficult for a doctor to identify the precise cause of a miscarriage, but it is widely accepted but a miscarriage can be the response of the body to problems identified as a baby develops in the womb. The instance of miscarriage also increases where there are known genetic disorders, if a woman is over 35, takes drugs, smokes or drinks, has an infection or a problem or abnormality in the womb. In most cases, one miscarriage will not stop a woman going on to carry a baby to full-term the next time she falls pregnant.

The emotional cost of a miscarriage

As well as the physical effects of miscarriage, there can be a very traumatic emotional response. Women often find it difficult to talk about what has happened but there are some coping mechanisms that can be very useful if you have suffered the upset of miscarriage:

  • Join a support group that helps women who have miscarriage
  • Breathing exercises can help with stress
  • Relaxation techniques such as meditation can help
  • Visiting a psychologist or a psychiatrist or a counsellor in reproduction can offer support
  • Taking enough timeout to relax and recover

When to get pregnant again after miscarriage

There is no right or wrong time to try for another pregnancy after you’ve had a miscarriage. It is really down to when you feel ready but there are some things that you can do to help minimize the chances of another miscarriage.  They are:

  • Taking regular exercise
  • Keeping your weight under control
  • Avoiding stress
  • Eating a healthy, well balanced diet
  • Taking a dose of folic acid on a daily basis to aid with the development of the baby’s nervous system
  • Stopping smoking

When to speak to the doctor,

If you are pregnant and you suspect you’re having a miscarriage you should contact your doctor right away. You may need to undergo a procedure that will remove any foetal tissue that remains in your womb. If you doctor is not sure that all the foetal tissue has been passed then it may be necessary to have a dilation and curettage when the uterus will be scraped to ensure that no tissue remains. Failing to do this can lead to infection and prolonged bleeding. If you require this it will be done under general anaesthetic although usually you should be able to return home on the same day.

You need to call an ambulance if you experience any of the following, as these symptoms may be indications that you have a serious infection:

  • Severe pain in the shoulder or abdomen
  • Severe and prolonged bleeding (an example would be bleeding that requires a pad change twice in an hour) or if you notice golf ball size clots
  • If you develop a fever or chills
  • If you have pain or diarrhoea when you’re trying to empty your bowel
  • If you feel dizzy or faint
  • If you noticed very strong and I’m pleasant smelling discharge from the vagina
  • If you feel weak

Even if you think that your first-period after miscarriage was not that unusual it is always wise to have check up with your doctor during the six weeks after your miscarriage. Your doctor will need to check that you have recovered and that your womb is back to its normal size.

You will need to consult your doctor as a matter of urgency if you have any of the following:

  • Several periods that a lot heavier or more painful than you normally experience
  • Your periods do not resume
  • Your periods have become very irregular

Here are some questions that are frequently asked after a miscarriage

Is a first period after suffering a miscarriage always heavy?

While it is true that the first period that you have after miscarriage will often be longer more painful and heavier than you’re used to the reason for this might be because your body has not ovulated and this may cause the lining of the womb to be thicker which will lead to a longer, heavier period.

How much rest should be taken after a miscarriage?

It may often take several weeks or a month or more before the body is fully recovered from a miscarriage. Depending on how advanced the pregnancy was, pregnancy hormones may be present in the blood for one or two months after the miscarriage. After that, periods will usually resume.

How long will be period I have immediately after my miscarriage last?

This will vary from woman to woman but on average a post miscarriage period may last from four days to a week.

What effect will my miscarriage have on my menstrual cycle?

The body can recover quite quickly, after miscarriage and ovulation may take your place just two weeks after the loss of the pregnancy. As a bleeding abates and the hormone levels normalise, the menstrual cycle will start again.

Would it be possible to get pregnant after a miscarriage without having a period?

It is entirely possible that you could become pregnant straight after miscarriage and before your periods resume. It is possible to ovulate and to get pregnant as little as two weeks after a miscarriage has occurred. If you have only had one miscarriage, there should not be any need to wait before you try to conceive again. If you have suffered two or more miscarriages, however, your health care provider might well recommend that you have some tests carried out.

I want to get pregnant right away after my miscarriage.  How can I give myself the best chance of conceiving?

If getting pregnant again right away is your aim, then the best way to achieve this is to eat a diet that is rich in fresh fruits, leafy vegetables, protein and foods rich in iron as well as ensuring your vitamin intake is adequate. However, doctors will usually recommend waiting for at least three months after a miscarriage before getting pregnant again. It is generally accepted that allowing this period of time to relax can guard against another miscarriage

How do I take care of myself at home after a miscarriage?

  • You should be able to resume your normal activities a few days after your miscarriage, some women find it possible to return to activity that is not strenuous in as little as 24 hours
  • Take over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen for any pain and cramping that should not last more than 24 hours. You can expect to experience some cramping and some bleeding for a few days.
  • Avoid inserting anything into the vagina, do not douche, or have sexual intercourse and try not to use internal sanitary protection for at least two weeks or until there is no more bleeding. Ask your healthcare provider for advice as to when you can resume sexual activity.
  • Make sure that if you want to prevent an immediate pregnancy you take advice and resume contraception before you think about resuming sexual intercourse.
  • Always follow medical advice and attend follow-up appointments when they given

Why has my period come so late after my miscarriage?

Just as with an abortion, having a miscarriage will often mean a delay in the resumption of your usual menstrual cycle.

Are there any vitamins I would be advised to take after my miscarriage?

Yes you could try taking Folate along with other B vitamins.   Try to eat whole-grains, seeds, nuts, and those green leafy vegetables, which will provide a good source of Folate and other vitamins in the B-group.

What kind of exercise should I do after my miscarriage?

Unless your doctor has advised you otherwise, it should be fine for you to return to your normal daily activity and the exercise routine you had before your miscarriage as soon as you feel as though you can. Exercise may be a good idea because it is a good stress and anxiety reliever and will also help with depression.

Miscarriage can be difficult and traumatic but knowing the facts and taking care of yourself will help you through it and I Allow you to move on to another successful pregnancy in due course.