Pregnancy After Miscarriage: Everything You Need to Know

Pregnancy After Miscarriage: Everything You Need to Know

Although pregnancy is often a time of happiness, it may also be full of sadness and worry, particularly if you’ve had a miscarriage in the past. Pregnancy loss brings with it a variety of emotions, and although it still isn’t widely spoken about, it’s actually a very common occurrence. The good news, though, is that most women who are unfortunate enough to have a miscarriage eventually succeed in giving birth to a healthy baby.

Nevertheless, the journey of pregnancy after miscarriage isn’t always an easy one, and getting some expert advice about conceiving again could be very beneficial. Read on to discover a guide to pregnancy after miscarriage, covering everything you need to know in one place.

Why Did I Have a Miscarriage?

It’s believed that around 20% of all pregnancies end with miscarriage, and some experts even say that miscarriage could affect half of all pregnancies, with many happening before the woman even realizes she’s pregnant.

About 15% of miscarriages occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, also known as the first trimester. Although second trimester miscarriage is less common, up to 5% of all miscarriages occur at this time.

It isn’t known what causes all miscarriages. It’s believed that most are due to issues with the baby’s chromosomes or because of problems with the cervix or uterus. The mother’s health problems could also be another factor as could STIs or other infections. In most cases, though, doctors are unable to explain why a woman has suffered from a miscarriage.

While some miscarriages take place abruptly with blood and pregnancy tissues being passed rapidly, others occur without symptoms. These are known as a missed miscarriage. In such cases, the woman doesn’t realize there’s a problem until they have an ultrasound scan. It may be necessary to have medical or surgical management of the miscarriage in this event to enable the pregnancy tissues to be expelled.

However a miscarriage happens, it’s normal to experience intense sadness, grief or even anger. Some women feel numb initially but then experience a range of emotions later on. It can take weeks or months for a woman’s body to make a full recovery from a miscarriage, and it can take even longer to recover emotionally.

How Quickly Can I Get Pregnant Following a Miscarriage?

Many women who have suffered from a miscarriage want to try to conceive again as quickly as possible. They are often delighted to discover that it’s possible to get pregnant again virtually immediately.

In fact, it’s possible to become pregnant after your miscarriage even before you’ve had a period. This is because your body will begin to return to its regular reproductive cycle after you have a miscarriage, and ovulation will occur before you get your next period.

Since this can happen as early as two weeks post-miscarriage, you could conceive in this first cycle and see a positive pregnancy test more rapidly than you imagined.

Is it Safe to Get Pregnant Straight After a Miscarriage?

There was once a school of thought that advised women to wait for six months after miscarrying before trying again, but that is no longer the standard medical advice.

In fact, studies have shown that it may even be easier to get pregnant within one to three months of miscarrying and that such a pregnancy would be more likely to have a lower chance of miscarriage. This could be because pregnancy could prime your body to support the next pregnancy.

With this in mind, though, it’s possible your doctor could give you different advice depending on your circumstances and individual health conditions. If you have a surgical procedure such as a D&C for example, you may be advised to wait a few months before you try to conceive again so the lining of your uterus can build up to a healthy level once more. For women who have had several miscarriages in a row, testing may be advisable to determine whether there’s a cause before they try to conceive again.

Some women aren’t emotionally ready to go right back to trying for a baby after they experience a pregnancy loss. Although it may be physically possible to get pregnant straight away, therefore, you may prefer to wait until you’re both emotionally and physically ready. On the other hand, though, you may want to go for it as soon as your doctor gives you the green light.

Do I Have a Higher Risk of Miscarrying Again?

One common concern among women who have suffered from one miscarriage is whether they will have a greater chance of suffering from one next time. In fact, it may be comforting to learn that the risk of miscarriage overall won’t increase after a single loss.

Unfortunately, though, around 1% of women experience recurrent miscarriages which could be due to hormonal problems, autoimmune disorders, polycystic ovaries, blood clotting issues or high blood sugar. After two concurrent miscarriages, the chance of another goes up to 28%. After 3 losses in a row, the risk increases again to 43%. This is why testing is recommended for women who have 3 or more pregnancy losses in a row.

Testing involves having blood tests and genetic testing as well as ultrasound scans, X-rays, laparoscopies or hysteroscopies to determine if there is a reason for recurrent miscarriages.

In some cases, even with testing it is impossible to determine the precise reasons for recurrent losses, but while this is upsetting and worrying, rest assured that about 65% of couples who have experienced 3 miscarriages without any known cause succeed in having a healthy pregnancy.

Will I Get Any Extra Care in a Pregnancy After Miscarriage?

It’s quite normal for many women to want extra checks and tests when they are pregnant after a loss. Whether or not you will be offered additional testing will depend on many factors, including your personal medical history, any symptoms you’re experiencing and the cause of your previous miscarriage if one could be determined.

If you experienced an ectopic pregnancy, getting an early scan during any subsequent pregnancy is important to ensure your baby is developing in the correct location. Usually, this scan would be at around 6 – 7 weeks into your pregnancy, but if you’re experiencing bleeding or pain it could be earlier than this. For women who previously experienced a molar pregnancy, a scan at around 8 weeks is advisable.

For women who have only had one previous miscarriage, an early scan isn’t always offered or advised. This can be very worrying, especially for women who had a missed miscarriage and had no signs of a problem in their previous pregnancy. Arranging a scan for around 7 – 8 weeks may help to bring some reassurance for women in this situation. In other cases, though, scan appointments may cause additional stress and anxiety due to previous bad experiences.

Are There Extra Tests in Pregnancy After Miscarriage?

Late miscarriages (after 12 weeks of pregnancy) often come as an enormous shock and can be extremely distressing. While women who have experienced an early loss in their first trimester may feel reassured once their new pregnancy has passed this point, those who miscarried later may get little comfort from early scans that show everything is well with their baby.

Many women who had late miscarriages feel that they cannot relax at any stage in their next pregnancy and become extremely anxious or depressed. If you find that this describes the way that you’re feeling, you may want to have extra testing and check ups to make sure that everything is progressing well this time around. You may be offered additional scans or appointments with your doctor due to your medical history, or you may be able to request that you are seen in the clinic more frequently so you can have better peace of mind.

On the other hand, some women in this situation feel that getting extra care proves their pregnancy is at a higher risk of miscarriage, and this makes them feel more anxious. It’s always recommended to discuss the way you’re feeling with your doctor so that you can manage your new pregnancy in a way that is right for you.

Can Miscarriage be Prevented in My Next Pregnancy?

In most cases, miscarriages cannot be prevented since around half of all losses occur because of chromosomal abnormalities. Woman aged 35 and over are also at a greater risk of miscarriage since their eggs are more likely to have abnormalities due to age.

Nevertheless, maintaining a healthy lifestyle may help your next pregnancy to run smoothly. You should stay well-hydrated and eat a well-balanced diet. Taking folic acid and daily multivitamins is also recommended to maintain your stores of nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy.
a pregnant woman practicing yoga

You should also exercise at a moderate level for around 150 minutes a week. Walking, swimming, pilates and yoga are all good choices, but contact sports, sports that come with a risk of overheating and activities that put you at risk of falls should all be avoided.

Avoiding drugs, nicotine and alcohol is also vital, while minimizing your caffeine intake is important too. Drinking  a bit of coffee is fine, but you should only have one cup of any type of caffeinated beverage per day.

Make sure to attend all your antenatal appointments and speak to your doctor straight away about any worries you have about your own or your baby’s well-being. If you suffer from any long-term medical conditions, make sure you manage them properly and take your medications as your doctor directs. Make sure, too, to manage your emotions effectively too.

After a miscarriage it’s normal to experience a wide variety of emotions and feelings so if you’re feeling depressed or anxious, seek professional help. Licensed therapists can help in navigating the emotions you’re experiencing and help you find the tools you need to cope at this challenging time. Talking to friends, family members and your partner about your feelings can also be very helpful.

How Will Pregnancy After Miscarriage Differ?

Although you maybe keen to feel happy and excited about being pregnant again, you may be surprised to discover you feel sad or guilty instead. Many women who are going through pregnancy after miscarriage feel anxious and worried that the same thing will happen again. Even when their baby is born they may feel pain and guilt at celebrating their little one’s arrival.

Postpartum depression is more likely to occur in women who have experienced the loss of a previous pregnancy, so reaching out to get help whenever you need it is vital for your own well-being and that of your baby. The most important thing is to take things one day at a time. Every woman’s pregnancy journey can be a challenging one, and for women who have miscarried in the past, it can be even harder to navigate.

Fortunately, you aren’t alone and many other women have been through the same thing. There are lots of online and in-person support groups available to you to help you through this difficult time, so don’t be afraid or hesitant to seek out the help you need.

Are There Any Strategies That Can Help Me Cope During My New Pregnancy?

Everybody is different, but you may benefit from some strategies that get you through the weeks and months to come as you progress through your new pregnancy. Here are some tips to point you in the right direction.

Setting Milestones

Some women find that working towards milestones that they have set for themselves help them to focus and get through. Those milestones could be a scan date, a doctor’s appointment, the stage when you previously miscarried, or even just the end of a month or week.

Using Relaxation Techniques

Hypnotherapy, yoga, mindfulness or meditation can all be helpful strategies to help you relax and avoid the stress that comes with pregnancy after miscarriage.

Using Complementary Therapies

Aromatherapy or acupuncture with a qualified therapist who is experienced in treating women in pregnancy could help you to reduce your stress.

Final Thoughts

pregnant woman

Although pregnancy after a miscarriage can be worrying and nerve-wracking, the odds are in your favor that you will have a healthy baby in your arms in nine months’ time. So, try to take things one day at a time and look forward to meeting your newborn.