As a doctor, I feel privileged to share in both the highs and lows of my patients’lives. Miscarriage is one of the more frequent events, and one of the saddest. One in every four to five pregnancies end in miscarriage. This means the pregnancy has not carried past the first trimester, and it brings a host of emotions and changes to your physical and psychological well-being.
It’s not often talked about in public, but patients turn to us for answers. Let me take you through some of their most pressing questions.
This is usually forefront in the minds of expectant parents. Miscarriage feels unfair, and it is. I try to explain that there isn’t anything you have done wrong, and there is nothing you could have done differently or better.
One explanation I put across is that damaged chromosomes or DNA can sometimes make it impossible for the embryo to survive. There is no dietary or lifestyle changes or any medication that could have improved chances of survival or been responsible for the miscarriage.
Thoughts frequently turn to when to try again. Everyone is different, so what’s right for one person may not be for someone else. Many need to take time to grieve for their loss. Around 20% of women who have suffered a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy will have mental health or psychological symptoms that can last for many months.
It’s considered best to avoid sex until all of the bleeding has stopped. This reduces down the risk of infection occurring. The best time to try is when you and your partner feel both emotionally and physically ready to embark on another pregnancy.
Practically speaking, it can be helpful to wait until you have had at least one period before trying again. This makes it easier to calculate dates in the next pregnancy if you conceive straight away. If you conceive before you have a period, it doesn’t make you more likely to miscarry in the new pregnancy. There is evidence that there is actually a lower risk of miscarriage in women who conceive within the first 6 months after miscarriage.
If you have had any symptoms that might suggest miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, you should avoid air travel. It would be best to speak to your doctor, who can advise on your specific circumstances.
If you have had a miscarriage, or are having any ongoing symptoms after miscarriage (physical or mental health), book a routine appointment with your doctor. They will want to hear how you are doing and may be able to give advice for useful support groups, charities, or services that are available in your area.
Emotions from loss plus disruption to hormones can put some people in a low headspace. You should speak to a medical professional urgently if you are having suicidal thoughts or have a plan to self-harm. You can get urgent help via your doctor, calling 111, or by attending the emergency department, which is a safe place during a crisis.
One or even multiple miscarriages does not mean that you are not going to be a parent. If you have had multiple miscarriages, you should speak to your doctor, who may arrange further investigations or refer you to a specialist. Occasionally medical conditions put you at a higher risk of miscarriage.
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