When I found out I was miscarrying our first child, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I didn’t know what the pain would be like or how long I would bleed. I didn’t know what to do. I was clueless about what a D&C is or what a natural miscarriage would be like.
My experience was abnormal because we were right in the middle of a PCS (move) to another state. I went to three different hospitals, and at every appointment never saw the same doctor. It made it extra hard to understand what was going on or even what was going to happen. I felt like each doctor told me something different, and it was incredibly frustrating.
Every woman is different, and most likely no two women will have the same experience when it comes to miscarriage. But if you are like I was and you’ve just found out you are miscarrying, then you are probably googling like crazy. I wanted to find everything I could about it. I needed information — about what was happening and what was going to happen.
Usually there are three options:
- Natural miscarriage — where you let your body expel everything on it’s own
- Taking medication — which helps your body expel everything and usually causes severe cramps and bleeding
- Having a D&C, a surgical procedure where the doctors remove everything
Doctors will usually have a recommendation for you and your circumstances depending on your health, how far along you are, etc. I am not a doctor, and I am not suggesting you choose a certain option. What I am doing is telling you about my decision and what I experienced, so that you can make a more informed decision if given the chance to choose on your own like I was.
Like I said, I saw four different doctors — not a single one ever recommended I do a D&C or take medication. Only one doctor told me about those options and let me choose. He never said I should do any certain one, but that it was completely up to me.
I chose to have a natural miscarriage. One woman once said to me, without knowing I had chose this option, that she found a natural miscarriage to be disgusting and couldn’t see why anyone would choose that. Well, I did. I did not want a surgical procedure, and I definitely did not want to take medicine that would make my cramping worse. Whatever your decision is, don’t let anyone else make you feel bad or guilty or “disgusting” for choosing it.
My Experience with a Natural Miscarriage
It began the day after my first ultrasound with just some light spotting. It worried me, but I had been told spotting after a vaginal ultrasound was normal. I had also read that cramping was normal and was the result of a growing belly as your uterus makes room for the baby. Light cramps followed the spotting, but again I tried to stay positive and not worry. We were planning to tell my husband’s family our big news that day.
As the day went on, the bleeding continued — still nothing heavy. Cramps got worse though. And so did my worries.
When the cramping became really bad, and the bleeding began to be heavier than spotting, I pretty much knew what was happening. We went to the ER, at which point I was bleeding very heavily, and the doctors did a pelvic exam and later another vaginal ultrasound. The doctor told me I had definitely miscarried, that everything was out, and that I should only experience bleeding for the next 24 hours. She also told me to see an OBGYN for a follow up appointment as soon as we got to where we were moving to (we were leaving the next day).
The next day I didn’t have a ton of bleeding or cramping, but the day after that the bleeding was very heavy. The cramping was awful. I took Ibuprofen, and it helped a little.
When I got to the OBGYN, they did another vaginal ultrasound and found that everything was definitely not out like the doctor at the ER had said. I could see the gestational sac on the monitor. I thought I had miscarried, but in fact I was miscarrying.
Cramping & Bleeding
For my natural miscarriage, I experienced a lot of cramping for the first several days. But most of the time Ibuprofen helped. The cramping eased, though, and after a few days it went away. The bleeding, however, did not. I experienced bleeding for almost four weeks. It was steady for the first two weeks, and then was off and on after that. Eventually, it stopped. If you choose to have a natural miscarriage, expect to bleed for at least a week and probably more.
The other part of naturally miscarrying is that the OBGYN wanted to keep checking my HCG levels to make sure they came down all the way. I had to go in to get my blood drawn every week for several weeks. Even after the bleeding stopped, my levels still weren’t low enough and I had to keep going. I stopped going when my levels hit 4 because honestly, I was done. They had wanted me to keep going until I hit 0, but I wasn’t having it. Four was low enough for me. I needed to rest. Physically, my body couldn’t take anymore. And emotionally, I couldn’t either. If you choose naturally, your doctor will probably want to keep checking your HCG levels as a precaution so that you don’t get an infection.
Passing the Baby
After I read about how many women actually pass the baby and can see and recognize it, I honestly wanted to experience this. Maybe that sounds weird, and I’m sure for some it’s a very traumatic experience. But I wanted the chance to see and hold my baby. I wanted to give him proper burial. The thought of flushing the remains of my baby was terrible. Unfortunately though, I never got to experience this. Sometimes, everything disentigrates or you’ve had a blighted ovum — where an embryo never actually forms from the fertilized egg. I don’t know which was my case. If you choose to do this naturally, you will probably pass the embryo or fetus. You will be able to see the gestational sac and your baby after passing them. Depending how far along you are, you may even experience labor. Like I said, this can be extremely traumatic or it can be a way to get closure. Choose what is best for you.
Because your body is going from pregnant to not pregnant, your hormone levels are drastically changing. For me, this meant break outs on my face and back, as well as my hair shedding in extreme amounts. I imagine these types of side effects happen for anyone experiencing a miscarriage whether naturally or not because no matter what your hormone levels are changing. No one told me that my hair was going to feel like it’s falling out, and when I searched online I couldn’t find anything about it. That’s exactly why I’m sharing these details.
I want you to be aware this could happen. I want you to have a better idea of what to expect, because I didn’t. And not knowing makes the whole thing even scarier. Speaking of scary, I also had nightmares for awhile — not necessarily about the miscarriage, sometimes just about really horrible things happening to people I love. I’ve heard of others experiencing this as well. I think it’s a part of the trauma and the grief.
I’m not trying to persuade you to choose one way over another, but I’m giving you information that I wish I had known. I hope this gives you a better idea of what to expect so that you can choose wisely. Again, if you’re doctor is recommending a certain option for you then that is probably what is best. Be sure to ask any and all questions you can think of.
If you have had a natural miscarriage, and you have other advice or tips or a different experience, please share in the comments.
If you would like more information about having a D&C, read this guest post from Michelle.
If you found this post helpful, consider ordering my eBook Miscarriage & Mourning: Encouragement after Pregnancy Loss.
You may also want to read:
- Our Miscarriage Story
- Things I Didn’t Know About Miscarriage … Until I Had One
- Ways to Cope After Miscarriage
You can also follow my Pinterest board Miscarriage for other articles on this topic.