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After Your Miscarriage

At the Time of Your Miscarriage

​We understand your response to miscarriage will be unique to you. You may feel flooded with emotion, feel a sort of numbness or shock, or somewhere in between. It can take time to absorb the reality of what is happening.

Your healthcare team can help you access resources, receive support, and to answer any questions you may have. We are concerned about both your physical and emotional health, and it is important you get all the information you need. There are no right or wrong questions or decisions at this time.

We understand that this information may not be a fit for everyone. It is possible that you may develop feelings of loss at a later time. It is never too late to explore your grief, access support, or to find ways to remember your baby.

You may want to find a personal way to honour your baby. Decisions may be difficult to make right now and it is important to take your time.

Please let your healthcare provider know if you would like support from a social worker, spiritual care staff, aboriginal liaison worker, or from a leader within your cultural or spiritual community. A spiritual care staff member can help facilitate any practices, rituals, or connections with community leaders you may need at this time. You or your family members may also wish to visit a sacred space, prayer room, or other place for spiritual support.

What is a m​iscarriage?

A miscarriage is a pregnancy loss during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Around 20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage. It’s common for women to have miscarriages before they even know they’re pregnant, especially in the first 12 weeks.

When I have a miscarriage, is it a baby or pregnancy tissue?

It’s up to parents to decide how they want to talk about their pregnancy and/or baby. In this guide, the words baby and tissue are both used to describe the physical remains from a miscarriage in order to respect people’s choices, feelings, and values.

What causes a m​iscarriage?

A miscarriage happens when a baby stops growing and developing, or when the womb cannot keep a baby. You may wonder why it happened or blame yourself for something you did. It’s important to know that a miscarriage isn’t anyone’s fault. It isn’t caused by stress, exercise, or sex, and it usually can’t be prevented. Most times, the cause of a miscarriage isn’t known.

Some factors that may be linked to a miscarriage include:

  • genetic problems (e.g., abnormal chromosomes)
  • problems with the uterus or cervix
  • infection, which can affect the uterus and the baby
  • hormone problems
  • age of parents

What are the symptoms of a miscarriage?

A miscarriage can happen suddenly, over several hours, a few days, or even weeks. It’s confirmed with an ultrasound test. The most common signs of a miscarriage are:

  • vaginal bleeding—can increase from light to heavy
  • very bad cramps in the pelvic area, back, or abdomen
  • lower back ache
  • fever (temperature over 38.5 °C)
  • passing tissue from the vagina
  • no obvious or apparent symptoms of miscarriage but diagnosed on ultrasound

Healthcare Needs with a Miscarriage

Whether you’re having symptoms of a miscarriage or have confirmation of a miscarriage, these are some of the services which are available to you for support:

  • obstetrician, family doctor, genetics, nurse practitioner or midwife: diagnosis and support for pregnancy losses and help with testing, referrals, or follow-up care
  • early pregnancy assessment clinics: assessment, testing, providing treatment options, and support for losses under 12 weeks
  • emergency department or urgent care: for urgent care when there is heavy bleeding, signs of infection (e.g., fever over 38.5 °C, vaginal discharge which smells bad), or a medical emergency
  • day surgery: requires referral from a physician, for dilation and curettage (D&C) or dilation and evacuate (D&E) procedures
  • induction: sometimes if the baby is over 14 weeks, a woman may go to a hospital unit to be induced and to deliver the baby

Your healthcare team will care for you and your baby with respect. They’ll help you find resources, offer support, and answer your questions. They’re concerned about your physical and emotional health and it‘s important for you to get all the information you need. There are no right or wrong questions or decisions at this time.

Some women may wish to have information regarding the products of miscarriage. Once it has been confirmed that your baby is no longer alive, you may wish to collect the remains to be able to honour your baby or say goodbye in a formal way. To collect the remains/baby, plastic basins/ hats which can be placed in the toilet are available in most pharmacies, labs or distributed by early pregnancy assessment clinics. Some women may not feel the need to collect the remains. If you have questions, speak to your health care provider regarding different options.

Less Common Causes of Miscarriages

A blighted ovum is an egg that is fertilized but doesn’t develop. This is a common problem and may cause up to 50% of miscarriages in the first 12 weeks.

A molar pregnancy happens when there’s a problem with the placenta which grows into a large mass that may or may not contain a baby. If there is a baby, the growth stops. Most often, a molar pregnancy is treated with a D&C.

An ectopic pregnancy (also called a tubal pregnancy) happens when an egg implants in the wrong place (e.g., in a fallopian tube instead of the uterus). An ectopic pregnancy can be a medical emergency for the mother and may need immediate treatment.

Current as of: August 18, 2017

Author: Women’s Health, Alberta Health Services