what happens during a miscarriage
Description of the D&C Procedure
If you opted for a D&C or D&E, first you will have the procedure done. Remember that if you can, insist on some time to gather loved ones around you or to get yourself together before you do this. Don’t let anyone panic you into rushing into a procedure you’re not ready for. This is usually all done in one day, but if you were farther along than 14 weeks, it may be a two-day procedure, with the laminaria sticks being inserted the first day, the dilation occurring overnight, and the procedure being done the next day. If your pregnancy was very young, you may get a dilation cream instead, or even not need dilation if your cervix is already slightly open as the miscarriage is beginning.
The surgery will be pretty fuzzy to you, due to the drugs and anesthesia. You may be put completely under, or you may be given a local and laughing gas. If you are awake, you may feel some pricking or sucking sensations, but it will not be uncomfortable. You will spend a couple of hours in a recovery room to wait on the anesthesia to wear off. Some doctors will prescribe antibiotics as a precaution; but many will not unless you develop symptoms of an infection.
During the next few days, you will likely experience the following:
- Mild to medium pain in your abdomen or tenderness. Most women report no pain at all, but those pain pills are not prescribed for nothing. Hopefully you will not need them.
- Deep muscle soreness in your thighs from your position during the procedure.
- Mild to heavy bleeding with some mild cramping.
- Sun sensitivity, nausea, and weakness from the strong antibiotics.
- Heavy groggy feeling, from the anesthesia and your sadness.
Call your doctor if you experience the following:
- Any sort of abdominal pain after the second day. You could be developing an infection. Don’t panic though, just call and you will get a stronger antibiotic and a check up.
- A fever that starts to approach 100 degrees. Again, infection is a possibility.
- A sudden stoppage of bleeding, then severe cramps, almost as if you are in labor. This happened to me, and I can’t tell you how I panicked. I ended up passing tissue, then the bleeding resumed normally. I called the doctor and they checked on me every few hours at home, but I didn’t end up having to go in (good thing, since I was 150 miles away).
- Pain, flu feelings, or overall debilitating sickness that last more than a day or two.
You will feel some of the following as the days and weeks wear on:
- A mild start and stop bleeding pattern up to two weeks. You should have a new cycle, unrelated to the first bleeding, between 4 and 7 weeks after the miscarriage. I didn’t get a fresh cycle until the last day of the 7th week, so don’t panic if you are still waiting. A few women need a Provera shot to jump start their cycle, but this is not terribly unusual. Call your doctor if you go much longer than 7 weeks, just for your peace of mind. You may want to start charting your temperatures after the bleeding stops to see where you are. Remember that you can get pregnant that first cycle, so use contraceptive. For more information, see the section on trying again.
- Snappy, unhappy, angry feelings. Wanting to be left alone or wanting to talk about what happened with everyone you know.\
- A sense that it isn’t real, that it never happened.
- Hypersensitivity to sad TV or reading materials, being revolted or angry about happy scenes of families, seeing symbols in everything you do, from gardening to dreams to what you eat.
- Anger at the baby, wishing you never knew about the pregnancy, wanting to throw out all the baby reminders, or clinging to the little angel you lost, thinking about him/her nonstop, wanting everyone to recognize that the baby was real.
- Anger and/or jealousy of other pregnant women, even friends and family, to the point you don’t want to even talk with them. This is okay. I felt this way for several months.