In honour of October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month, we would like to shed some light on miscarriages and send some love to those going through this incredibly difficult experience.
The first thing to know if you’ve had a miscarriage is that it was not your fault. Often when things like this happen, our first response is to try to figure out why. Unfortunately, it’s often impossible to know why a miscarriage has happened. It can be helpful to understand that miscarriages are extremely common – some estimates say 10-20 % of known pregnancies end in miscarriage (Mayo Clinic). No matter how far into your pregnancy your miscarriage occurs, know that there is no right or wrong way to process or grieve this event in your life. The most important thing is to take care of yourself and reach out for the support you need. Here are our tried-and-true tips for dealing with the physical and emotional effects of a miscarriage.
- Focus on rest for the first 10 days – in the bed, on the bed, around the bed (and couch).
If you have experienced significant blood loss, you may need to talk to your healthcare provider about taking an iron supplement. Try to eat iron-rich foods and foods rich in Vitamin C (to aid in iron absorption) during this time. Some people find it can help to focus more on warm foods (stews, soups) than colder foods, like smoothies or salads.
Bleeding can vary, but in general, expect some bleeding for 1-4 weeks. Flow changes from heavy dark red (possibly with small clots) to moderate brown or pink, then to thick and creamy white. Use heavy flow pads and change them often. Do not use tampons or a menstrual cup for at least 6 weeks postpartum. Wait until your next period before using tampons again. If your bleeding gets heavier after tapering off, that could be a sign you need to rest. Talk to your healthcare provider about when you can resume normal activities, and activities such as swimming, going in hot tubs and having sexual intercourse.
- After pains
As the uterus contracts back to its regular size it can feel like strong period cramps. Warm packs to your abdomen as well as Tylenol/Advil will help if the cramps are uncomfortable.
Your breasts may be tender due to engorgement. Drinking Sage tea can help. Using ice packs and a supportive comfortable bra will also help.
Legs and hands can swell due to the shifting fluid balance within your body. Movement is important as is proper hydration. Night sweats are also common as your body adjusts to the change in hormones.
- Bowel movements
Your first bowel movement can be terrifying. It’s important not to “hold” it, as this can cause constipation and will make things worse. Drink lots of fluids and eat high-fibre foods and healthy fats. If you are struggling with constipation, you could try taking an over-the-counter stool softener or taking psyllium fibre (ie. Metamucil) mixed with a large glass of water. Use a clean pad or washcloth and apply pressure to your perineum to make bowel movements easier. Consider getting a squatty potty if you don’t have one already.
- When to worry
Some symptoms to look out for include increased or extremely heavy bleeding, odour, fever over 38 degrees Celsius, lumps or red hard/hot spots on breasts or in the perineum, incision pain, redness, swelling, chest pain/shortness of breath, leg pain or swelling. If you experience any of these go to the hospital.
- Feelings and Emotions
Give yourself time and space to grieve this profound loss in the way that feels right to you. Although in the past miscarriages were often kept quiet, it’s getting more common for people to share with others about their experience. You will probably discover that many people you know have had miscarriages too and are able to help you through yours. Some people find that having a ceremony with their family or friends to mark the loss can help with a sense of closure.
Don’t be afraid to seek out professional counselling or help from your doctor if you are experiencing debilitating sadness or depression after your miscarriage.
Here are some local counsellors if you are looking for someone to help you process your loss:
- Shannon Golletz (www.lifeaftermiscarriage.ca). She also has some great resources on her site that you may find helpful.
- Christina Page ( https://christinapagecounselling.com)
- Lisa Moore (https://www.lisamoorecounselling.com)
- Rooted Thistle Counselling (https://www.rootedthistlecounselling.com)
Wherever you are on your journey with your miscarriage, we see you and want you to know that hope and healing are possible.