There are many emotions that come with having a miscarriage and there is no wrong way to feel no matter how far along you were. You may feel like you want to try again right away, or you may feel that you need more time to process the disappointment. It is important that you take time to process your feelings and know that that having a miscarriage is very common. Above all, know that it was not your fault. It is also important to know that, in general, having a miscarriage has no impact on whether or not you can get pregnant again or stay pregnant.
A lot of thoughts and questions are probably going through your mind. Here are the most commonly asked questions women ask Dr. Don Aptekar, an expert in women's health, when they come to him after having a miscarriage. Hopefully, the answers will give you some peace of mind:
Q: Could the miscarriage be my fault? I tell my patients “You didn’t do anything to cause it. You couldn’t have done anything to change it, and it has no impact on your future pregnancies.” Even still, my patients ask, “What about when I fell off my bike?” Or, “could it have been because I ate sushi and drank coffee?” They try and find blame, so I say, “Let me start again: you couldn’t have done anything to prevent it and it has no impact on your future pregnancies.”
The important piece is that miscarriages happen. You can’t do anything to reduce the chance of having a miscarriage to zero percent, so it's essential that you move on from the blame.”
Q: It took me along time to get pregnant - does this mean I’m infertile? The good news is that you got pregnant, so you don’t have an infertility problem. Let’s try and look at the positive side. You got pregnant, great job. You just had the poor man’s fertility work up: You proved that your partner’s sperm works and you have eggs. There was most likely a chromosomal problem with the embryo or fetus and your body did what it was supposed to do.
Q: I have one child already but have had a miscarriage trying for a second. Am I still fertile? My patients who have a healthy child and then a miscarriage when trying for the second typically ask me, “Will I ever be able to get pregnant again? Was my first child just due to luck?” I tell them to try their best to put a positive spin on the situation. You know the system still works, all you need to do is keep trying. If after 6 months to a year of actively trying, and still no pregnancy, then it’s time to consider doing some testing.
Q: How long do I have to wait to try again? I focus on the emotional. Physically you are fine. Physical healing doesn’t take much time. Emotional time does. It takes 6 weeks at minimum to get over a loss. When you get pregnant and you find out your due date, you start to think about holidays and events during the year. When you are ready to start that process over again- that is the sign you are ready. If you aren’t waking up crying in the morning, you are ready.
If you want to start again as soon as possible, I recommend that once you have a period you are good to go at it again - give yourself a cycle in the middle.
Q: Is there something wrong with my body? By and large miscarriages occur because something is wrong with the fetus. It is not uncommon to have a miscarriage. This is a statistical probability and very common. If you want two children, it may take you 3 pregnancies, especially if you are over 30 years of age. If you like to take pregnancy tests right away, in order to prevent unnecessary stress, you may try waiting until you have a missed period. Early on, the risk of having a transient, nonviable pregnancy that will miscarry within a few days is very high and when your period comes, it would just seem like a regular period rather than a miscarriage.
Q: Can I prevent a miscarriage? There is nothing you can do to reduce the percent chance of preventing a miscarriage to zero. It is a statistical probability for everyone who tries to conceive, and miscarriages increase in frequency as women get older. If you are in your mid-thirties, for example, and would like to have 2 children, it may take you 3 pregnancies.
Q: How likely is it that I will miscarry again? The chance of having a miscarriage is the same each time you get pregnant, but the further along you are, the percent chance of having a miscarriage drops. By and large miscarriages occur because something is wrong and it is Mother Nature's way of dealing with an embryo or fetus that is not healthy. Once you see the baby’s heartbeat and are 12 weeks along, the percent chance of having a miscarriage drops significantly to 3-4% (source).
Q: I’ve had two miscarriages in a row - what should I do? Try to stay away from researching everything that can go wrong with the body. I’ve noticed that the more questions a patient asks, the more interventions they get and the more money they spend. Most people who have miscarriages end up having as many children as they want. You need to keep perspective; the vast majority of people are normal. Don’t go looking for problems. By the way, it used to be 3 miscarriages, but now it is two. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter what surgery or procedure you do, you will still have the same percent chance of having a miscarriage.
Q: Do I have to wait until I have a period again to try? Give yourself a cycle. I recommend waiting until you’ve had at least one period.
Q: It took a long time to get pregnant the first time and now I had a miscarriage. Will it take that long again? No one can answer that question, but probably not. You’ve proved that you can get pregnant. Just make sure that when you are ready to try again, that you are accurately timing your fertile window.
Ebook: How Not to Waste another Month when Trying to Conceive
Q: Could it be my fault that I had a miscarriage? No- there is nothing you could have done to prevent having a miscarriage unless you smoke. If you smoke, you need to quit.
Q: How can I be less afraid of having a miscarriage when I get pregnant again? Once you’ve had a miscarriage, it’s particularly hard to relax once you are pregnant again. You still have a chance of having another miscarriage, but statistics show that in most cases, that if you keep trying you will end up with a healthy baby. Do you know the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr? “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And the wisdom to know the difference.” If you are a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet and participate in moderate exercise, then you are doing everything that you can.
Q: Do I need medication or treatment to stay pregnant? In my opinion, I just don’t see the statistical success of being on all the medicines. There are not a lot of good double blinded studies to prove that they are beneficial. Women get so desperate to do anything that they are easy targets for spending money, even if it is not necessary. The truth, however, is that you will probably will get pregnant without any intervention.
Miscarriages are common and apart of life. If you have experienced a miscarriage, take time to heal emotionally and then try again. Most women that have a miscarriage, or three, have as many children as they planned on having. Some people dwell in the negative space. I know where you are coming from, but try and look at the bright side if you can. You got pregnant - this means that everything is working. It could take more pregnancies than you thought, but once you pass the first 12 weeks and hear a heartbeat, you are very likely to sail home free and have a healthy baby.
About Dr. Aptekar:
Dr. Aptekar founded Partners in Women's Health in 1977. He is a past president of the CO OB/GYN Society, past chairman of the medical board of Planned Parenthood, and Assistant Clinical Professor of OB/GYN at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Dr. Aptekar practices obstetrics and gynecology.