Trying to conceive after a miscarriage.
If you are reading this section, it probably means that you have recently suffered a miscarriage and you want to try to get pregnant again asap. Firstly let me say I am so sorry for you loss. There is no one that understands the pain a woman feels after going through a miscarriage than a woman who has been there herself. I had two miscarriages while trying to conceive my son and going through this experience has tainted both my successful pregnancies with worry and stress and has affected me in a way that no other event in my life has.
I would compare a miscarriage to losing someone that no one else knows. Grieving for someone that no one else knows. No one can understand the pain that you feel. Not even you partner can come close to understanding what you are going through and neither can you parents, siblings or friends. They worry about you but they do not grieve for you lost baby for years after the miscarriage and as long as they think or see that you are OK about it, they are OK about it. Below I will discuss what to expect after a miscarriage in both physical and psychological terms. I will tell you how I coped and the things I did to try and get pregnant again asap after my miscarriages.
My miscarriage story.
My miscarriages took place in 2014 and I honestly believe I will never get over the stress of trying to conceive after having a miscarriage. No matter how many times I was told how common they are it still begs the questions ‘why me?’ It doesn’t matter if you miscarriage occurred really early on or later in the pregnancy, you still started to imagine what that little baby would look like, what sex it would be, what you would name it and what would it be like. It was still your baby no matter how developed it was and the pain is much the same. The thought of having to start all over again can also be deflating and heartbreaking.
My first miscarriage happened very early on. I got a positive pregnancy test 11 days after I ovulated and I came on my period a few days later. It was classed as a chemical pregnancy which makes it sound like it wasn’t an actual pregnancy but it was no matter how short lived it was. I was so disappointed and sad.
My husband pointed out that the fact that we could get pregnant was such a positive thing and I started to feel better the more I thought about it. I was fertile and my husband’s sperm was viable. I was reassured that my body was working as it should and I could get pregnant. I started to think positively for my next ovulation and was determined to once again catch the egg which I did.
I got a positive pregnancy test 12 days after I ovulated and this time it stuck. A little too well as it turned out. I had been to see my midwife at 7 weeks and my 12-week scan was booked. Everything seemed to be going very smoothly and I even developed a little bump which of course was only bloating at this point but I loved it. Everything was fine until around 9 weeks or so and after that my whole positive attitude towards the pregnancy changed and I was super paranoid that something was wrong. I would wake at night and start googling about women going to their 12 week scans and their baby not being alive. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I also took a few pregnancy tests around this time which were instantly positive and I started to chart my morning temperatures again to make sure they were still high. All of this behaviour was very strange when I think about it and it was like I knew in my heart that something bad had happened.
I was exactly 12 weeks pregnant when I found a little bit of blood in my underwear. I had no cramps or other signs of a miscarriage but I was still very worried as the blood looked fresh. My midwife had said that brown or pink discharge is OK so this was a worry. My 12-week scan was 4 days away so my husband drove us to the hospital. They gave me a scan in the early pregnancy unit and I will never forget the heartbreaking words ‘I am so sorry but you baby has no heart beat’. The sonographer said my baby looked around 8-9 weeks old. I was totally devastated. It was what is called a ‘missed miscarriage’ which means my body hadn’t realised the baby had died and carried on with the pregnancy for 3-4 weeks. Eventually I would have miscarried naturally but at that point my body had not recognised that there was a problem. The Dr said that it is more than likely that the baby had a chromosomal problem and although the heart would have started to beat at around 6 week gestation, it stopped a few weeks later as the fetus was not viable.
They gave me 3 options. I could have what is called a D&C (dilation and curettage) which is when they give you a general anaesthetic and remove the baby for you, I could have waited and let the miscarriage happen naturally which could have been days or even weeks later, or I could have a pessary inserted which would dilate my cervix and bring on a miscarriage within 24 hours. I opted for the pessary and went home to have the miscarriage. I actually ended up in hospital for a few days as I bled too much but that is a different story. The whole ordeal left me completely devastated, confused, stressed and weak and I had no idea how stressful the next 6 months would be.
What I did to cope after a miscarriage?
It took me 6 months to conceive my son after that second miscarriage. Month after month I would go through the same ordeal of my period arriving and not knowing why I wasn’t getting pregnant again. One by one my friends would fall pregnant or someone would know someone who was pregnant and I could spot a pregnant woman a mile away when I was walking around town or the shops. It was the hardest time of my life. Scan photos, bump photos and friends moaning about pregnancy symptoms on Facebook made me want to delete my account. Instead, I would write ‘congratulations!’ and immediately ‘unfollow’ them. I didn’t want to be around anyone with kids or anyone that was pregnant as it was just too painful and I needed to protect myself. I also avoided alcohol completely as if I got drunk I would break down in tears.
One of my friends who also had a missed miscarriage around the same time went out and got a tattoo in their babies memory but I don’t have any tattoos so it wasn’t really something I wanted to do. Another of my friends managed to have a little ceremony in her local church but it didn’t feel right for me. Instead I bought a little necklace with a heart charm with baby footprints to represent my lost baby and I wore it constantly. I wore it throughout my next pregnancy and even gave birth wearing it. I only removed it once I got home from the hospital and my son was save in my arms. I felt if I had something to remember the baby by it would help me and it did. I also mention this as I have bought several of my friends who have suffered a miscarriage the same chain and they said it really helped them to get through it by having something that represented the baby.
How I took control of my fertility.
My second miscarriage happened in the June 2014 and by the November I was starting to freak out. I had read that most women get pregnant within 6 months of a miscarriage and it had almost been that long for me. I was doubting I would ever have a baby and became quite distressed. I was ovulating more regularly but I would come on my period early and I had a lot of spotting before it arrived. I started to take a bit more control and I did a lot of research on fertility vitamins and herbs and I had a consult with a nutritionist. I also went to see my doctor and got the ball rolling on why I was spotting so much after I ovulated. My doctor really didn’t have a clue but did some swabs of my cervix and blood tests, all of which were OK. She just said to relax and keep trying which was really unhelpful.
I asked to be referred privately to see a gynecologist which cost me £130 and it was the best money I had ever spent. The gynecologist didn’t really think there was a problem but agreed to give me progesterone suppositories to try after my next ovulation. I used them from 3 days after I ovulated and I had no spotting at all and got a positive pregnancy test at 10 day after ovulation and now I have a lovely little boy. Progesterone treatment was my savior (see section on The Luteal Phase). I started to try to for baby number 2 when my son was 11 months old and used progesterone again and I couldn’t believe it when I conceived the first month. My daughter is now almost 1 year old.
How to cope with a pregnancy after a miscarriage?
After a miscarriage all you want is to be pregnant again and you may think that everything will be fine once you get pregnant but it is far from the truth. Trust me when I say that a miscarriage changes your thought processes when it comes to pregnancy and you become an irrational mess. When you first get a positive pregnancy test after a miscarriage it makes you so happy for maybe a few hours. Then panic sets in and you start to become paranoid that you will miscarry again. I begged my Dr for an early scan but she refused. She was totally unsympathetic to my concerns and said that probably all is well and I remember thinking ‘ I bet she has never had a miscarriage’. I ended up paying for an early scan privately at 7 weeks and despite seeing my sons heart beating and being told everything looked good (which was obviously amazing) it only calmed my nerves for about a day. I then started to think ‘well my last baby died at 8-9 weeks so this baby could die too’. It wasn’t enjoyable at all and it was super stressful and I was extremely paranoid.
By 9 weeks of the pregnancy I’d had enough and decided to buy a Doppler machine. I had read about them online and watched videos on Youtube of women picking up their babies heart beat from as early as 8 weeks gestation if used correctly. I bought one along with some ultra sound gel and I gave it a go.
At 9 1/2 weeks I couldn’t find the heart beat and I panicked. I could only hear the placenta which is a loud whooshing sound and the rate matched my pulse. I knew it wasn’t my baby. I tried again when I was 10 1/2 weeks and after a few minutes of scanning I heard another heart beat which was much faster rate than my own. It was going around 160 beats a minute and my pulse was around 90 so I knew it was my son’s heart and not mine. It was very faint and difficult to find but it was my son’s heart beat and it was the best sound I had ever heard in my life. My son was alive. I used my doppler only for a few seconds every few days and it is important to not use to often and for too long. If you are interested in buying a doppler machine then please do your research first and watch lots of you tube videos. Below are two dopplers I have used in the past and both are very good. The angel sounds one in particular is very good value for money.
Be Cautious – Dopplers are not for everyone and you need to do a bit of research on how to use them properly during early pregnancy or they can cause more stress than reassurance. Your uterus is behind your pubic bone at the early stages so the baby is well hidden. You are almost searching around the level of your groin area. Do not start high up as you will not hear anything. There is no evidence they are unsafe but the ultra sound waves can heat up tissue so they should be used infrequently during the early stages of pregnancy just in case. I would check my son’s heart for a few seconds once I got good at finding him and only once every 3 days or so.
When I went into the 12 week scan I was relaxed and confident everything was OK as I had heard my babies heart beating only an hour or so before. If I hadn’t had the early scan or the Doppler then I would have been completely stressed out and extremely anxious about having another missed miscarriage. I definitely advise going for an early scan especially. I used the Doppler until I was around 20 weeks pregnant because at this point I could feel my son move around every day. This is basically how I got through the pregnancy with my son after my two miscarriages. When I got pregnant with my daughter (using the progesterone treatment again) the stress and anxiety was just as strong at the beginning. Once I heard her heart beat using the doppler at around 9-10 weeks I was reassured she was OK and I went into the 12 week scan confident again. I was living in Spain at the time I conceived my daughter and they do scans much more regularly there so that was also helpful to keep me calm. Having my son around also distracted me as he took my mind off any negative feelings that crept in by keeping me busy and making me smile.
Once I got past the point where if I went into early labour, my babies had a good chance of surviving, I really started to enjoy both of my pregnancies. The first 3 months are the toughest but once you know everything looks OK the chance of a miscarriage is really small. Despite knowing that most miscarriages occur in the first few weeks and no matter how many people tell you to relax and everything will be fine, you just can’t be 100% sure. There will always be a feeling of doubt which is completely normal and all you can do is literally take one day at a time and try to enjoy it as much as you can.
How does miscarriage effect you?
Miscarriage is an event that will affect the way you think about pregnancy throughout the rest of your life. I want to be pregnant constantly, despite the stress and I feel jealous when someone announces a pregnancy to me. I want 3 or 4 kids while my husband is happy with just 2 so I have accepted that I won’t be pregnant again but it makes me really sad. Once I got past the first 3 months or so and once I got my bump, I was so proud to show it off and I when people would ask me about my pregnancy I loved to talk about it. I loved that feeling that my baby was in my belly safe and protected and he/she was mine and I would soon get to meet him/her. I loved lying on the sofa of an evening watching and feeling my babies move inside my belly. Pregnancy is the most amazing experience and I treasured every second like most women who have suffered a miscarriage. I think if I fell pregnant quickly and had no issues at all then I would probably of moaned about how I was feeling and what was going on with my body. I would have taken the whole experience for granted which would have been a shame. Instead, I embraced every part of both my successful pregnancies and every day I was thankful for. Even the nausea I took as a positive sign everything was OK.
When you get pregnant after a miscarriage you will worry and be anxious and this is completely normal. You do however see pregnancy and having a baby in a completely different light as you know how precious it is. This makes it even more amazing and also helps you to accept the changes to your body once you have given birth. Your vagina will never look or feel the same and you boobs may sag and you may have stretch marks but your body has given you the greatest gift and you should be proud so of it. It has managed to produce the most beautiful little person who is all yours. That is pretty amazing! So once you do fall pregnant again try to embrace every day and try not to worry as hard as that seems.
When can you start trying to conceive after a miscarriage?
This is an individuals choice and your doctor will tell you to wait a few cycles to let yourself recover but for me I wanted to start trying straight away and I did. I was not successful for 6 months after my second miscarriage but I know of lots of my friends who conceived the cycle after theirs. As long as you are emotionally ready for another pregnancy you can go ahead. That feeling that you just want to be pregnant again as soon as possible is overwhelming so more than likely you will want to try as soon as possible anyway. Trying to conceive after miscarriage can be really difficult and frustrating. Some women are lucky enough to fall pregnant again straight away but for some it can take longer as they can experience irregular menstrual cycles. This can be really distressing especially if took you a while to get pregnant in the first place. If you have tried for more than 6 months and feel you are unable to conceive after a miscarriage then go and see your doctor.
How to get pregnant after a miscarriage?
Trying to get pregnant after a miscarriage is basically the same as trying before it happened but you will probably put a lot of pressure on yourself to get pregnant fast. Remember that if you managed to get pregnant once you will more than likely get pregnant again within 6 months. You can improve your chances of getting pregnant by monitoring your fertile signs and using ovulation tests so you have sex at the correct time. Charting your temperatures can also help if you want to make sure you are ovulating and you can pin point when. Your cycles can be a bit messy after a miscarriage as your hormone levels normalise again and to what extent will likely depend on how far along you were when you miscarried. You need to be patient with your body as it has gone through a lot of stress both physically and mentally. When your body has recovered and is ready for another pregnancy, that is when it is more likely to happen.
How long after miscarriage can you conceive?
This question should be ‘when do you ovulate after a miscarriage?’. Annoyingly after a miscarriage you will probably still have pregnancy hormones in your system for a few days or weeks depending on how far along you were when you had it. I had positive pregnancy tests after my 2nd miscarriage for 2 weeks and it was a strange feeling to be hoping for a negative test so I could try to conceive again. This is because if you have pregnancy hormones in your system, you will not ovulate. Don’t waste ovulation tests straight after a miscarriage as a positive ovulation test is common and is unlikely to mean you are about to ovulate. This is because the hormone they are measuring is similar in structure to the pregnancy hormone and they cannot distigush between the two. If you have pregnancy hormones in your body it is likely that you will get a positive OPK.
Once my pregnancy tests were negative I called this cycle day 1. If you ovulate normally after your miscarriage it is possible to get pregnant straight away. Often it takes a few cycles however as things get back to normal. Sometimes you need one or two periods for the lining to shed properly from the miscarriage. Then your body can start to build up a healthy lining ready for implantation. The second cycle after my miscarriage I lost some weird grey tissue which was rubbery in texture. It was obviously some tissue left over from the miscarriage that needed to be expelled. Part of the sac maybe.
Are you more fertile after a miscarriage?
I have read up a lot about this and most information says you are particularly fertile within the first 6 months after a miscarriage. Although at first I took this as a positive statistic, the closer I got to that 6 month mark the more anxious and stressed I became. Thinking that my fertility would suddenly decrease after the 6 months mark seems like complete nonsense to me now. Most women get pregnant within the first 6 months after a miscarriage because a high percentage of women get pregnant within the first 6 months of trying in general. It is often reiterated by midwives after you give birth that you are more fertile after having a baby and you need to use protection but I believe that if you are having unprotected sex for 6 months the likelihood of getting pregnant whether you have just given birth, just had a miscarriage or never had a baby before is pretty similar if you do not have any fertility issues. The point is, try not to stress about this statistic or read too much into it as every women is different and your body will react and recover differently from a miscarriage than others. Hopefully you will be one of the lucky ones and conceive within 6 months but if you don’t then try not to worry and keep the end goal in sight. It will happen for you at the right time.
What if you can’t get pregnant after a miscarriage?
If you have had a miscarriage and are struggling to conceive again it will seem like the end of the world. It will be all you think about and you will probably become totally obsessed and stressed about getting pregnant again. Please bear in mind that the majority of women get pregnant again within the first 6 to 12 months after a miscarriage which sounds like a long time but it is likely to be sooner. If you have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant after a miscarriage and you are not charting your ovulation then start now! You can then can go to see your doctor and tell them you are ovulating and having sex at the right time so there must be something else going on.
Things to consider.
– If you chart your temperatures you may find that you are ovulating earlier or later than what you thought so you may be having sex at the wrong time.
– If you conceived once then it is unlikely that there is a problem with your partners sperm but you may want to discuss getting him checked too and you can improve his sperm quality in the mean time (see fertility vitamins and herbs section).
– If you had a missed miscarriage like me and you had a D&C (dilation and curettage) then you may want to ask for an ultra sound or hysteroscopy. This is because a D&C can sometimes cause adhesions and scaring in your uterus that can inhibit implantation. I read up about this and this is why I opted against the procedure and went for the pessary to bring on my miscarriage.
– If you chart your ovulation and you are not ovulating then it is also time to go see your doctor. They can give you medication such as clomid to stimulate ovulation and help you conceive.
– You may discover like myself that you have a luteal phase defect and you can then ask about progesterone treatment.
– You may be stressed out causing an imbalance in hormone levels which can affect when and if you ovulate and can shorten your luteal phase. Your hormone levels are unlikely to re-balance until you are not stressed anymore which will probably be when you are pregnant again. This is a catch-22 situation and it might be time to look into alternative therapy such as reflexology or acupuncture. You may also want to start doing some light exercise to try and counter balance the stress hormones with endorphines and seretonin. This is what I had to do to bring my stress levels down and it worked wonders.
– It is worth looking into you diet and making sure it is healthy and balanced. There is some information in the section ‘Causes of long menstrual cycles and delayed ovulation’ about nutrition and a fertility diet. You and your partner should cut down on alcohol and if either of you smoke you should stop. Not only does smoking decrease egg quality but it also affects sperm motility, quality and quantity. You want his swimmers to be as healthy as possible and preserve your egg quality for as long as possible. There are usually solutions to any problem that you come up against when trying to conceive after a miscarriage and of all the sad stories I have heard over the years, 100% have ended with a successful pregnancy. Just remember at all times that if you got pregnant once you can get pregnant again! It doesn’t matter what is going on with the women around you and try not to compare yourself to them. Try to block out any negative feelings towards anyone you know that gets pregnant as this is unhelpful to you and can increase your stress levels. It is highly likely that you will be pregnant again soon so keep the faith.
It varies from country to country but if you live in the UK the NHS will not help you until you have had at least 3 miscarriages. This seems very unfair and extremely frustrating and stressful if you have had 2 miscarriages and your doctor cannot refer you for tests. Trust me I have been there. If you have a third miscarriage however, then they may be able to do tests on the fetus to check why it passed away and to do some genetic tests on you and your partner as well. It is important for you to go to your GP and start the ball rolling straight away so you do not have to go through a 4th and you can get the issue sorted. Often reoccurring miscarriages happen to women who are 35 years or older as their egg quality can be lower than what it was when they were in their 20’s. There is a great book called ”it starts with the egg” if you want to read up about how you can improve your egg quality in a few easy steps, helping you to get pregnant and hopefully prevent future miscarriages.
This book is also mentioned a lot on trying to conceive forums – Is your body baby friendly.
I will also write a section about ‘natural killer cells and miscarriage’ in the section on ‘Fertility Problems and Fertility Tests’ as this can be a reason for recurring miscarriages and one of my friends had this issue.
Some success stories:
I have a friend who after 4 miscarriages and no help from her GP paid privately to see a specialist who did some basic blood tests to start their investigation. Her white blood cell count (was extremely high causing her body to reject the pregnancies. She was put on steroid treatment and is now pregnant.
I have another friend of the famiy who had 9 miscarriages in 5 years and was eventually referred down the IVF route as it was unexplained why she was conceiving and not keeping the babies. She was on the list for IVF and conceived again and now has a healthy 3 year old.
There are so many stories I have heard over the years about women (often close friends) having miscarriages and despite the pain we all feel after going through one or several, they really are very common especially as we get a bit older. But there are things that can be done to help to support a pregnancy and eventually the end result is usually a healthy pregnancy and a happy and healthy mum and baby. Do not despair as you will get there in the end. You just need to start to take control of the situation, be firm with your doctor and if you are not happy with their advise I suggest you go private and speak to a specialist. The GPs at your local surgery are general practitioners and they know a little bit about a lot of conditions. You need to speak to someone who knows everything about one thing i.e. – fertility issues and how to get you pregnant. In the UK, once you have seen a private doctor they will refer you back onto the NHS for any tests that they suggest so it will be just the consultation that you pay for and trust me it is well worth the money in the long run.
Helping others who have had a miscarriage?
When I lost my second baby I joined a forum on ‘baby centre’ and I got to speaking with 12 ladies on there that had all had a miscarriage around the same time as me and who all wanted to start trying to conceive again straightaway. We supported each other through the toughest of times without even meeting. I am now friends with all 12 women on Facebook and 3 of them I am quite close to although our locations have stopped us from meeting in person. One of the girls got pregnant on her 1st cycle and three got pregnant on their second. All 12 of us got pregnant again within 8 months of our miscarriages and successfully carried our babies to term. All of us were in our early to late 30’s so this is quite a good success rate. In addition, almost every one of my friends who has either been trying for their first baby or second baby has experienced an early miscarriage (chemical pregnancy) so when my doctor told me they are common, she was right. Unfortunately it is just all part of our trying to conceive journey.
As a rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better you will more than likely get your ‘rainbow baby’ after the storm that has come upon you.
Share your story – I have found by sharing my story with other women it helped them to open up to me. I initially kept my miscarriages a secret and felt very lonely that I had no one to really talk to who had been there themselves. Once I had my son I started to tell friends about it and from there it all changed. From that moment one of my friends got pregnant they told me first. One of my friends told me before she even told her husband and mum. Women seem to open up to you about their worries once they know you have had a loss and you can be there for them if the worst happens to them too. I have a friend who I had not been in touch with for years but through a mutual friend I heard she’d had several miscarriages so I contacted her. Once she knew I had been there too we got to talking every day and she said it truly helped her get through it. She now has a 1 year old. The point I am trying to make is if you have a miscarriage don’t be scared or ashamed to open up to you friends and family about it. Let them be there for you. You never know if one of them has been there themselves and can really help you. Also, if you hear someone who has had a miscarriage then reach out to them. Just to say you are sorry for their loss and that if they need to talk you are there. They will truly appreciate it. You can use the comments section below if you want to chat to me or the other women reading this section.