In between the birth of my first child and my second, I had three miscarriages. When I finally made it to the end of the first trimester for my second son, I literally cried on my OBGYN’s table. Not only were the miscarriages themselves painful and traumatic, but the uncertainty, doubt, and waiting made things that much harder. Pregnancy after miscarriage is confusing and stressful and scary.
If you’ve suffered a miscarriage, you might be feeling confused and scared too. You probably have lots of questions. I know I did. We talked to an expert to get some answers.
How soon after a miscarriage can I try to get pregnant again?
This answer varies depending on when and how the miscarriage occurred. “Various changes take place after a miscarriage depending on the type of miscarriage and if a procedure was done or if the pregnancy was passed on its own,” Dr. Banafsheh Kashani, M.D., FACOG, a board-certified OB/GYN and specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, told Scary Mommy. “Generally, women will experience bleeding that should turn into just spotting and this can last for weeks.”
After a miscarriage that involves a D&C or other medical procedure, you may need to wait a few weeks before trying to get pregnant again. If , on the other hand, the miscarriage happened early on in the pregnancy, your doctor may give you the okay as soon as you feel up for it.
Dr. Kashani said that a person can generally start trying to get pregnant within just a couple of weeks after a miscarriage, as long as they feel mentally prepared to do so.
“Women previously had been advised to hold off for three months after a miscarriage before they start trying, but this information is outdated,” Dr. Kashani said. “In fact, one study showed that trying [to conceive] immediately after [a miscarriage] is associated with a good chance of having a healthy pregnancy.”
It’s important to know that just because you are cleared to try to conceive, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your body will be ready to conceive. After each one of my miscarriages, it took several weeks or even months for my levels of HCG – the hormone your body produces when you’re pregnant – to get back to baseline. It can take one to nine weeks for HCG to return to zero or an undetectable level – a signal that your body may be ready to become pregnant again.
When should a person see a fertility specialist?
If you have experienced two or more miscarriages, Dr. Kashani recommends seeing a fertility specialist. Most miscarriages are due to a genetic problem with the fetus, but she told Scary Mommy that “sometimes there can be other treatable causes for a miscarriage, such as a hormonal problem, anatomical defect, or a blood clotting disorder.”
Once you know the cause of the miscarriages, a fertility specialist can help with viability of a future pregnancy. In my case, uterine fibroids, along with progesterone problems, were the cause for my frequent miscarriages. A minor surgery and hormonal injections helped me get — and stay — pregnant.
Are there any unique risks for a pregnancy after a miscarriage?
Many folks feel anxious about getting pregnant after a miscarriage. But as Dr. Kashani pointed out, most of them go on to have a healthy pregnancy. She recommends talking to your doctor early on in the post-miscarriage pregnancy to see if lab tests may be helpful to check the pregnancy hormone and progesterone levels. Your doctor may also consider early ultrasounds to assess the pregnancy.
What can a person trying to conceive after a miscarriage do to increase likelihood of pregnancy?
Trying to get pregnant after a miscarriage can be fraught with anxiety and stress. It’s normal to feel nervous, but Dr. Kashani says that if you are extremely depressed, stressed or anxious, you should talk to a therapist so that they can help you with coping strategies. She also recommends eating a healthy and balanced diet, taking a prenatal vitamin, and including low to moderate exercise in your daily routine.
“Additionally, some may benefit from taking progesterone after they ovulate or with a positive pregnancy test,” Dr. Kashani says. “This is something you can discuss with your doctor to see if you are a candidate for this treatment.” [Raises hand.]
Unfortunately, miscarriages are common. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 8 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Most people who miscarry have a subsequent healthy pregnancy, with only about 1% having repeated miscarriages.
“It is almost NEVER your fault if you have had a miscarriage,” Dr. Kashani reminds us. “These things happen more than we would like. It is important to remember that although many women will experience a miscarriage, most of the time, women can go on to have a future healthy pregnancy and baby.”