When you endure a miscarriage, it’s an emotional experience and can take time to recover from. While some call it an “invisible loss”, because it may not be obvious to the world that you are grieving, there is also a physical process that occurs. What happens to your body after a miscarriage can be different depending on how far along you were in your pregnancy, and it can vary from person to person, so it’s important to communicate these symptoms to your doctor and be patient with yourself as you heal.
What is a Miscarriage?
A miscarriage is defined as the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation. Miscarriage happens most often during the first trimester, which is before 14 weeks. Approximately 10-15% of all clinically recognized pregnancies unfortunately end in a miscarriage, and in some cases, it may happen before the woman is even aware that she is pregnant. Despite how common pregnancy loss is, what happens to your body after a miscarriage can be difficult to process for some both mentally and physically.
What Happens to Your Body After a Miscarriage
Once you have been informed that you have had a miscarriage, it is important to discuss next steps with your doctor. Sometimes, you may have a natural miscarriage, which should be monitored by your doctor but may not require additional medical intervention. Other times, it may be recommended for you to take medication or have a minor surgery called dilation and curettage (D&C). There are certain symptoms that may happen to your body after a miscarriage:
- Abdominal cramping or pain
- Vaginal spotting or bleeding similar to your menstrual period
- Sore or tender breasts or leaking milk, depending on how far along you were in your pregnancy
- Pregnancy hormones will return back to normal over time
- Your first menstrual period after your miscarriage may be heavier than usual
Do I Need Any Tests After a Miscarriage?
It is recommended to speak with your doctor about if there are any tests needed after you have a miscarriage. If this is the first time you’ve had a miscarriage and it’s early in your first trimester, you sometimes do not need any major medical tests, but you should still speak to your doctor to get their advice. However, if you’ve had multiple miscarriages in the first trimester or you’ve had a miscarriage in the second trimester, you may want to ask your doctor if there are any tests they might recommend. Some of these tests may include:
Hormone tests. If you haven’t done this already, having your hormones checked to make certain there isn’t an issue is an easy first step. It’s a simple blood test that can provide an overview of your fertility health, estrogen levels, and ovarian reserve. This can potentially provide information about if there is anything that might be cause for concern.
Products Of Conception (POC) Testing. POC is done on tissue from the lost pregnancy and evaluates the chromosomes to help provide insight into what has caused the miscarriage. Approximately half of all first trimester miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities. POC testing can help provide additional information about if there might be an increased risk for a future pregnancy to be affected with a chromosomal abnormality as well.
Other Genetic Testing. You and your partner can have blood tests to test your own genetic and chromosomes for abnormalities. If one of you has a chromosomal abnormality, there may be an increased risk of having a miscarriage or a baby born with health complications. There is a test called Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidies (PGT-A), which can be performed on embryos after going through the In Vitro Fertilization process, that can help identify which embryos appear to be chromosomally normal or abnormal.
While you can’t control what happens to your body after a miscarriage, you can control the help and support you seek out during this difficult time. Support organizations for miscarriage include: March of Dimes, Resolve the National Infertility Association, and Pregnancy After Loss Support. You should also feel comfortable communicating your feelings and concerns about this loss to your partner and your doctor in order to determine what you need mentally and physically as you heal.