How your body recovers from a miscarriage will depend on the circumstances and timing of the miscarriage, as well as on whether you suffer any further complications related to the miscarriage. As a general rule, the less time the pregnancy had to become established, the quicker your body will be able to physically recover.
First trimester miscarriage
Miscarriage in the first few weeks of pregnancy, before the pregnancy has a chance to become established, is very common and many women who experience it - unaware that they are pregnant - will think simply that they are having heavy period. Your body should return to normal very soon after your bleeding has stopped (which should be within a week, or possibly two) and, depending on your cycle, your periods should return within about six weeks.
If you suffer a miscarriage in the second half of the first trimester you are more likely to pass clots of blood and recognisable pregnancy tissue. Abdominal cramps are usual and may quite strong during them miscarriage itself, but they should become lighter and fade a couple of days after the miscarriage. You may have vaginal bleeding for up to a week, or possibly longer, after the miscarriage. This is usually a similar flow as your regular menstrual bleeding.
If stronger pain and bleeding continue more than a couple of days then your miscarriage may be incomplete - meaning that there may still be pregnancy tissue left in the womb. If this happens then you need to call your doctor right away as you may need a simple surgical procedure, a Dilation and Curettage, to remove any remaining tissue and stop the bleeding.
See below for more information about your physical recovery.
Second trimester, or late miscarriage
An early second trimester miscarriage may be very similar to a miscarriage in the first trimester, however, the further along in the pregnancy you are, the more likely you are to have experienced unpleasant contractions and a delivery.
Miscarriage at any stage of pregnancy
You are more susceptible to vaginal infection than usual following a miscarriage, but you can lower the risk by:
- Using pads rather than tampons for any post-miscarriage bleeding. You can use tampons again when your first period arrives.
- Not bathing in public swimming pools, jacuzzis and similar public settings where the water may carry infections
- Not having sex until after any bleeding has stopped
If you develop a fever, chills or strong pain then you may have an infection and you should contact your doctor without delay.
When will I get my period back?
When your period returns will depend on at what stage your miscarriage occurred and how long your cycles are, but you will usually have your first period within four to eight weeks.
The emotional toll
Pregnancy loss at any stage, but particularly when the pregnancy is more advanced, can be an enormous emotional strain, and this can drain you physically too. Your physical recovery is very much tied up with your emotional recovery and it's important that you look for support and give yourself time to deal with any feelings of grief and distress.
- When will I be able to try to conceive again?
Doctors recommendations on when you will be ready to try to conceive again may vary, depending on the timing and circumstances of your miscarriage, and the cause, if known. Your doctor may recommend that you wait two or three cycles before trying for a baby again, to let your mind and body recover. On the other hand your doctor may see no reason why you can't start trying again as soon as you feel up to it emotionally. Some women will feel that they need time to grieve the loss of a pregnancy before trying again, but many hope that a subsequent pregnancy will help them put the loss behind them. If you do want to start trying again straight away it's a good idea to wait until you have your first period, so you have a good idea of your due date.
If the cause of the miscarriage is known, you may be able to have some treatment to prevent the same problem occurring again, or at least to reduce the possibility of a subsequent miscarriage. If so then it makes sense to take contraceptive measures until the treatment is complete, or until it's been established whether a subsequent pregnancy would require any special treatment.