Disclaimer: The following is not medical advice and is for informational purposes only. Always consult with your own pregnancy care provider about your own health care.
Having a miscarriage can be a very difficult experience for anyone who has been pregnant. Women are educated extensively on what to expect when they are pregnant, but there isn’t always as much information on what to expect when you are no longer pregnant.
While there’s no set timeframe for recovery after a miscarriage, there are a few medical guidelines to keep in mind. We’ll walk you through the basics of miscarriage recovery, from how long it should take you to fully recover, what you should expect during the healing process, and when you can start trying to conceive again, if that’s part of your future plan.
What is a Miscarriage?
A miscarriage is the loss of a fetus before 20 weeks gestation. It’s estimated that between 10-20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Most miscarriages occur within the first three months of pregnancy—that’s partially why you’re always hearing about the 12-week mark, when people might feel more comfortable telling family, friends, or coworkers about a pregnancy.
Miscarriages are marked by cramping, back pain, and bleeding, which can last for the length of a period, or it could last up to a few weeks. There are several different types of miscarriages:
- Complete miscarriage: When your body naturally passes the fetus and any pregnancy tissue from the uterus.
- Incomplete miscarriage: When the body does not naturally expel the pregnancy tissue from the uterus. This may require medication or a minor procedure called a D&C (dilatation and curettage).
- Missed miscarriage: A miscarriage that doesn’t come with all the usual signs of miscarriage, like cramping or bleeding. This type of miscarriage may only be detected at your next OB/GYN appointment when no heartbeat is detected.
- Ectopic pregnancy: When the fertilized egg implants in the wrong location, such as the fallopian tubes or cervix.
- Molar pregnancy: A genetic abnormality marked by the overgrowth of tissue within the uterus and no fetus.
- Chemical pregnancy: Also known as a very early miscarriage, a chemical pregnancy is when the fertilized egg never implants into the uterus wall. Some moms don’t even realize they’ve had a chemical pregnancy.
- Blighted ovum: This is when the fertilized egg implants into the uterus wall and develops a placenta, but then stops growing. In this type of miscarriage, you’d see an empty gestational sac on an ultrasound.
It’s important to see your doctor if you suspect you’re having a miscarriage, as there may be complications if left untreated.
Most women take a few weeks or even a month to heal from a miscarriage. Keep in mind that your miscarriage recovery timeline can vary based on a myriad of factors, like how long you were pregnant, if you had to have any surgery, and if the tissue passes on its own.
Recovery also varies depending on what type of miscarriage you experienced. If you had a complete miscarriage, that means your body has already expelled the fetus on its own; an incomplete miscarriage is when the body does not. The latter will likely need a minor procedure called a D&C, or require medication to prompt the body to expel the remaining tissue.
Following your miscarriage, you will want to follow all of your healthcare provider’s instructions for rest and recovery, especially if you have experienced any complications. Physically, you will need time to heal and rest. Remember, your body just went through a lot in a very short amount of time and it’s important to sleep, eat well, and stay hydrated. You may feel like you have had a period with your miscarriage and bleed for a few days with cramping. Typically, your cycle will resume on its own and you can expect to get you period between 4 and 6 weeks after the miscarriage.
Your hormones have also been disrupted in huge ways, so allow yourself ample time to recover and have a conversation with your partner and your provider about signs of postpartum depression, as they can occur after a loss too—it was a pregnancy just like any other and it’s important to keep your mental health a priority too.
Recovery is Emotional, Too
You’ll want to allow yourself ample time for healing after a pregnancy loss, both physically and emotionally. Going through a pregnancy loss can be an incredibly isolating and difficult experience and it’s important to give yourself all the time and space you need to grieve. It may be helpful to reach out to other women who have gone through a loss or to engage in meaningful activity, like journaling, purchasing remembrance jewelry, or planting a special tree or flower in honor of the loss. If you have other children, it might be a good idea to arrange for childcare if possible or have your partner take them out of the house while you recover initially as well.
As you move through the miscarriage recovery process, please keep in mind: there is no “wrong” or “right” way to get through a miscarriage. Let yourself grieve however you need to grieve and know that you are allowed to feel all of the emotions of your loss. Every woman will experience a loss differently, and some may be ready to try again while others will feel an early pregnancy loss as acutely as losing a child. Be kind to yourself and give yourself space and time to process your emotions. It’s also always a great idea to work with a mental health professional as you go through your healing.
What Happens After a Miscarriage?
If you want to try for another pregnancy, you can consult with your doctor before trying to conceive after a miscarriage. However, most providers agree that it’s safe to try to conceive after you’ve had one normal period, post-miscarriage. Doctors used to advise waiting several months to start the trying to conceive process again, but research has shown that it isn’t necessary to wait.
However, if you’re still trying to determine why your miscarriage occurred or having other tests, it’s best to wait until after you get the results before you try again.
And don’t overlook the emotional aspects of healing from a miscarriage. It’s important to give yourself time to grieve. Talk to your partner or a counselor, journal, or simply give yourself time to process your feelings of loss, because your loss is real and it deserves to be acknowledged.
“Remember: there is no 'wrong' or 'right' way to get through a miscarriage.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens to your body after a miscarriage?
While symptoms vary, you may experience bleeding and cramping, and your breasts may even leak milk after a miscarriage. You’ll also have some hormonal changes as your body regulates after a miscarriage. That’s why it’s important to keep tabs on your mental health after experiencing a miscarriage.
How long should I rest after a miscarriage?
Most women recover in a few weeks or a month after a miscarriage. But that timeline can depend on how far along you were in your miscarriage, if you needed any medical intervention, and if you were carrying multiples.
Are you more fertile after a miscarriage?
While the research on this is mixed, some studies have found that you are more fertile immediately after a miscarriage. Additionally, while doctors used to advise women who’ve had a miscarriage to wait a few months before trying to conceive again, most agree now that once you’ve had a normal period, it’s safe to try again.
4 Things I Want My Daughters To Remember About This Inauguration Week
At first I was afraid to watch the inauguration with my daughter, but we’ve had important conversations about the events…