What You Need to Know About Pregnancy After a Miscarriage

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time of excitement and happiness as you plan to welcome your new baby into the world. Unfortunately, it can also be a time that’s filled with anxiety and sadness, especially for mothers who have experienced a miscarriage before. If you’ve suffered from a miscarriage or other pregnancy loss, trying to get pregnant again or moving through your pregnancy can be difficult to process. Your emotions are valid—it’s understandable to feel nervous or hesitant about getting pregnant again. While you might feel alone in this endeavor, know that you’re not. Miscarriage is more common than you think, and it doesn’t mean that you should stop trying. In fact, most women who have had a miscarriage in the past go on to have a completely healthy, normal pregnancy. To help you better understand and process your feelings, here’s what you need to know about pregnancy after a miscarriage.

What Causes Miscarriage?

A miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week. One of the primary reasons that they occur is from abnormal fetal development, such as problems with the baby’s chromosomes. Some common chromosomal problems that may lead to miscarriage include blighted ovum, molar pregnancy, and translocation.

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Miscarriages may also occur from problems with the uterus or cervix such as fibroids or scar tissue, autoimmune diseases in a mother, or hormonal imbalances. Sexually transmitted infections can also lead to miscarriage, which is why seeing your doctor for screenings is important, especially if you’ve had multiple partners.

In certain instances, miscarriages happen very quickly where blood and pregnancy tissues are expulsed immediately. In other instances, symptoms may not appear, and you won’t find out until your ultrasound. Regardless, both situations are traumatizing and can cause intense feelings of grief.

Miscarriages are more common than you think—up to 10 to 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first trimester and another 1 to 5% miscarry early in the second trimester. It may even be that up to 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriages, before a woman knows she’s pregnant. These numbers aren’t meant to cause alarm. Rather, by sharing them, we hope that you can know that you’re not alone and a miscarriage is not your fault.

When Can You Get Pregnant After a Miscarriage?

While your body may be able to get pregnant immediately following a miscarriage, many healthcare professionals recommend a waiting period. Every woman is different and recovery time varies depending on the type of miscarriage you experienced and what the underlying cause was. However, in most instances of miscarriage, your uterus does a surprisingly good job at recovering. Your body immediately begins to get back into the reproductive mode and you’ll likely ovulate prior to getting another period. If you don’t have any underlying causes for the miscarriage, such as scar tissue, hormonal imbalance, infections, etc., you can start trying as soon as your mentally ready to. However, many women tend to wait as going through a miscarriage is extremely difficult and it might not feel right to jump back into trying before a mourning period. Take all the time you need.

Your doctor may also recommend waiting at least a few weeks to reduce the chance for infection. You and your doctor will work together to determine what’s best for you and how to move forward if you want to start trying again. If you’re up for it, one study revealed that getting pregnant within three months of a miscarriage could lead to better outcomes and a lower risk of repeated miscarriage.

Risk of Another Miscarriage

One of the biggest factors of hesitation in women who experience a miscarriage is the risk of another one. The emotional weight and grief of one miscarriage is a lot, having two can be completely devastating. Fortunately, just because you’ve had one miscarriage does not definitively mean that you’ll experience another. Only a very small number—about 1%—will have two or more miscarriages in a row.

Repeated Miscarriages

Unfortunately, some women do experience repeated miscarriages. This is often due to an underlying health problem and may require additional testing. Recurrent miscarriages occur in about 1 in 100 women and the risk of experiencing a miscarriage rises with each consecutive loss. Women suffering from recurrent miscarriages should work with their doctor to better understand what’s happening and how to move forward.

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Are There Any Preventative Measures to Avoid Miscarriage?

Since most miscarriages are spontaneous and due to chromosomal problems, it can be difficult to prevent them from occurring. However, taking steps to stay healthy, both ahead of and during pregnancy, can help you support strong fetal development. Here are some tips for getting pregnant after a miscarriage.

Address Underlying Health Problems

If you’re worried about consecutive miscarriages, or you’ve already experienced them, you should work with your doctor to address any underlying health problems. This will help you determine contributing factors so you can address them before trying to get pregnant again. Some tests that can be done include the following:

  • Blood Tests – a blood test can be taken to better understand any problems that you’re having with hormonal imbalances or autoimmune disorders.
  • Chromosomal Tests – these tests will help to identify whether your chromosomes are affecting your pregnancy.
  • Ultrasound – an ultrasound can be done to help identify any problems with your uterus. The ultrasound can determine whether fibroids are present, which increase the risk of a miscarriage.
  • Hysteroscopy – this is a thin, lighted instrument that’s used to diagnose and treat intrauterine problems that may be present.
  • Hysterosalpingography – this is a thin tube that’s inserted through the vagina and cervix. Once in place, a dye is released to trace the shape of your reproductive organs so they can be seen on an x-ray. This can help identify problems with the fallopian tubes or shape of the uterus.
  • Sonohysterography – this is an ultrasound that’s performed following a saline injection into the uterus. It provides crucial information about the inside of your uterus, potential obstructions, and the area where implantation occurs.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – an MRI is another tool that’s used to gain an understanding of the shape and potential obstructions within your uterus.

While these tests can help give you more information, sometimes the cause of miscarriages can’t be found. That doesn’t mean that you should lose hope. Many women who experience recurrent miscarriages go on to have a healthy pregnancy eventually. If the process is taking too much of an emotional toll on you, talk to your doctor about other options.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Achieving a healthy weight prior to pregnancy can help you manage any chronic conditions or underlying diseases. It also reduces your chances of miscarriage, as obesity can increase your risk.

Manage Stress Levels

Heightened cortisol levels can make it harder to conceive. If you’re anxious, stressed, or simply feeling overly tense, try to find some ways to relax that are both enjoyable and easy to fit into your schedule. Regularly incorporating meditation, yoga, and exercise can help you keep your cortisol levels and your stress at bay.

Reevaluate Caffeine and Alcohol Intake

While consuming moderate levels of caffeine during pregnancy (200 mg or less) is okay, consider cutting it out completely or at least tracking intake to make sure you’re not exceeding this limit. Caffeine can increase your risk for miscarriage. Alcohol intake before pregnancy can also affect your fertility levels and increase your risk for miscarriage. Try to avoid drinking if you’re thinking about trying again.

Quit Smoking

If you smoke, either cigarettes or marijuana, quit. Smoking can affect fertility levels and drastically increases your risk for a miscarriage. When you go out, try to avoid any secondhand smoke as well.

The Emotional Impact of Pregnancy After Miscarriage

Following a miscarriage, it’s completely normal to experience fluctuating periods of grief, anxiety, and depression. If you decide to try again, the stress and fear of losing another pregnancy can be overwhelming. However, stress can be dangerous in all pregnancies, so try to stay calm and discuss any concerns with your doctor. The rate of a repeated miscarriage is low and with proper testing and a little precaution, your rainbow baby will come.

If you need support following a miscarriage, join an online community or support group. Doing so can help you learn how to cope with your feelings. For more information on how to have a healthy pregnancy, understanding your newborn, and learning more about breastfeeding, Byram Healthcare can help.