The unit that you are seen at will probably give you some leaflets about the experience of having a miscarriage and they may have information about local support groups.Some women prefer to take time to recover, others want to get back to normal life as soon as possible, but follow advice about rest to give your body the chance to recover. Before you leave the hospital ask your doctors how long you should take off work, and ask for a certificate if you need one for your employer.
Emotional recovery after miscarriage
Getting over a miscarriage can be very difficult. From the moment you found out you were pregnant you were likely to be making plans for the future and imagining how you would be as a mother or father. You may have thought about the sex of the baby and possible names, you may have thought about moving home or planning nurseries and even childcare.
It can be a huge shock to lose the baby and you may feel very alone, and even disappointed by your body. Women often experience the same cycle of emotions as anyone who has lost a close relative or friend; denial, anger, guilt, feelings of emptiness and longing.
Talk to the people who support you best. Be prepared to give each other space and time to grieve and don’t expect each other to 'move on' or 'get over it' at the same time. If, after some time, you feel you are not coping with your feelings then do seek help. You may need more support such as professional counselling. See your GP if you need more help.
Some families choose to have a memorial service or write in a book of remembrance at the hospital. You can ask to see the hospital chaplain for more information about this. If you suffered a late miscarriage you may be able to see and hold your tiny baby – ask the hospital staff if this is possible. Some women have found it helpful to write letters to the baby, or to themselves, really writing out how they feel.
Find out more about the grieving process, and ways to remember your baby, in our Grieving for your baby section.
Looking for causes of miscarriage
You may want to know more about why the miscarriage happened and the likelihood of it happening again. Unfortunately, in the vast majority of early miscarriages a cause is never found. Tests may be carried out on the tissues that are removed during a surgical operation to determine whether the miscarriage was due to an ectopic pregnancy or a molar pregnancy.
If you suffered a late miscarriage, it is more likely that a cause was known. For example, if your waters broke early, you experienced a blood clotting disorder, problems with your placenta, or infection. Or it may be that your cervix opened early causing you to have a premature birth.
Give yourselves time to grieve
Miscarriage can be physically painful but for many couples the emotional fallout is far more overwhelming. You may both feel low for some time and may find it difficult to come to terms with the loss of your baby. Don’t bottle up your feelings: try to express how you feel to each other or a close friend. Sometimes, talking to your GP or a bereavement counsellor can help you to understand and accept your loss. A study has shown that this can have a significantly beneficial effect on your feelings. You may simply want someone to acknowledge what you’re going through and that your dreams have been shattered. A few kind words can go a long way.
You may need time off work to recover; or extra help at home if you have other children. During the grieving process, many couples experience a host of emotions including anger (especially if they don’t know why they miscarried), envy of other women’s pregnancies and crippling sadness. All these feelings are normal. You may feel numb for a long time, and many women feel utterly desolate on their due date and subsequent anniversaries. Everyone copes differently, but time does heal. If you feel well enough, you can return to work within a week.
What happens to my baby? Breaking the taboo
No one ever talks about what happens to the remains of a baby after miscarriage, but many bereaved parents need to know. According to the Royal College of Nursing, no matter how early in pregnancy a miscarriage occurs, parents should be told of the options available for disposing of their baby’s remains and should be asked to give written consent for this. Some hospitals will arrange a cremation or burial, or you can organise a private memorial service or blessing.
For more advice, talk to your hospital midwife or PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) officer, chaplain or bereavement counsellor.
Pregnant again after a miscarriage
While you may wish to conceive again as soon as possible, you may also be worried about having another miscarriage. After a miscarriage, you should be given a follow-up appointment with the GP or hospital; use this to discuss the best way to proceed.
Some couples need time to prepare themselves emotionally and physically before trying again.
When you are ready, try not to worry too much: most women will go on to have a normal pregnancy.
The best time to try again is a very individual decision; and should be when you and your partner feel emotionally and physically ready. (However, if you’re being investigated for recurrent miscarriage, it’s wise to wait until you have all the facts to hand. Women with certain health problems may be prescribed medication to increase their chance of a healthy pregnancy. Be aware that you are fertile in the first month after a miscarriage, so if you don’t want to fall pregnant straight away, you should use contraception.
A personal experience of miscarriage
After seven years of trying to have a baby, Emma finally received the joyous news that she was pregnant. However, her bliss was short-lived when at five weeks pregnant she miscarried. Tragically, history repeated itself three months later, when she miscarried again at seven weeks.
Emma was already on her hospital's waiting list for medical help in conceiving. In a routine procedure, a nurse ran a blood test, revealing unusual antibodies which could have caused her miscarriages. Under the guidance of her doctors she began taking simple drugs such as aspirin to combat this.
When Emma got the long-awaited call from her hospital to say she was top of the waiting list for medical help in conceiving, she was over the moon. She could start the treatment after her next period.
However when that period never came Emma took a pregnancy test. It came back positive! They were thrilled. Although Emma didn’t have a straightforward pregnancy, and had to change her plans of a home birth after developing pre-eclampsia, after over seven years of trying for a baby, Emma's wish was finally granted in August 2006, when Ilana Mai was born at 38 weeks.
Emma has since given birth a second time, to a beautiful baby boy, Lucas.
For more personal stories of miscarriage please visit our Tommy's stories page.
You can download our infographic about recovery after a miscarriage here (pdf), we hope it helps you or someone you love.
An easy to read list of the essential things you should know when you have had a miscarriage.
- NICE [accessed 14 April 2014] Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: clinical guideline 154, London NICE, 2012 http://publications.nice.org.uk/ectopic-pregnancy-and-miscarriage-cg154/key-priorities-for-implementation
- RCOG (2011) The Investigation and treatment of couples with Recurrent First-Trimester and Second Trimester Miscarriage. Green Top Guideline No 17, London Royal College of Obstetricians and GynaecologistS, 2011
- RCN (2007) Sensitive disposal of human remains: Guidance for nurses and midwives, London Royal College of Nursing, 2007
ℹLast reviewed on August 1st, 2016. Next review date August 1st, 2019.