Most of you have read my miscarriage story. One of things I kept thinking through the process was, “I wish there was some kind of guide I could read so I would know what to expect.” But there isn’t anything like that because every woman’s body and circumstance is different. Sometimes, doctors will recommend you have a surgical procedure called a D&C (dilation and curettage). Others, like my doctor, won’t give you a specific recommendation. You will get the choice of whether to have a D&C or miscarry naturally.
For those of you in that situation, I imagine you are wishing you could get more information. You probably want to know what to expect for either choice so you can make the best decision for you. I wrote about my experience with a natural miscarriage, and today Michelle from The Random Arrow is sharing her experience with a D&C.
Michelle’s D&C Experience
Last year, I found out that I was pregnant with my second child. I was over the moon excited for this new adventure. Sadly, 12 weeks later I found out that I miscarried. If you have ever experienced this before, you know the heartache that comes with it — shock, anger, sadness. It’s a pain that is almost indescribable.
I wanted to share what my experience was like having a D&C. You can read all about what a D&C is, but I found it more informative and comforting to talk to other women that had actually experienced the process. Just keep in mind that everyone is different, and your experience may be different than someone else’s.
What is a D&C?
D&C stands for Dilation and Curettage. According to Web MD, a D&C is “a brief surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated and a special instrument is used to scrape the uterine lining.”
A D&C is a minor surgical procedure. So off the bat you can expect to be out of work for a couple of days.
Before the D&C
The same day I found out I had a miscarriage, I went over to the out-patient surgery center. Luckily, my doctor’s office is at our local hospital so they just sent all the paperwork down to them. I had to have some blood work done. The Pre-op nurse asked me a few questions about my health. They also checked to see my blood type just as a precaution. The process took about 45 minutes.
I was given very detailed instructions on what to expect and what to do the night before surgery. You aren’t allowed to have anything to eat or drink after midnight. No nail polish, no make up, no shaving, etc. is allowed. They also told me to arrive about 30 minutes prior to my appointment time, and to be sure I had someone that could drive me home.
The Day of the D&C
I arrived to the hospital with my husband at 7 a.m. The nurse took us to our room about 45 minutes later. I was given a gown and told to undress completely. I remember the nurse giving me a hug and apologizing for my loss. I began to cry. She offered me a Xanax. Reluctantly, I took it. I am not one to take a lot of medication, but if it’s offered to you I recommend taking it. The Xanax totally helped me relax and not be so nervous.
After I changed, she took my vital signs and placed an IV on the side of my arm. Then my doctor came to check in and asked how I was feeling. She gave me an update that everything with my blood work looked fine, and she would see me again soon. About 30 minutes later I said goodbye to my husband and they wheeled me back to surgery. I remember the anesthesiologist talking to me, and then I was out.
After the Surgery
I heard a voice softly calling my name. I woke up to my husband sitting by my bed. The nurse was gently rubbing my head. She kindly offered me some ginger ale and some crackers. She didn’t want to give me much because some people experience nausea and vomiting after anesthesia. Thankfully, I did not.
Once I had my snack she asked if I felt like I could get up and go to the bathroom. I slowly got out of the bed and made my way to the bathroom. I had very little bleeding. I thought this was odd so I brought it up to the nurse. She told me that everyone was different and some women don’t have any bleeding until a few days later.
Leaving the Hospital
I was instructed to go home and take it easy for the rest of the day. As long as I wasn’t in any pain I could return to work in a couple of days. I remember asking my husband what time it was when we got to the truck. It was around noon. When going for a D&C, expect to be there for at least 4-5 hours.
I went home and slept almost the rest of the day. I remember the next day looking at my discharge papers and realizing they had given me Benadryl because I had a rash on my chest. So I am not sure if I slept a lot due to the medication or due to the actual procedure.
To avoid infection you are instructed not to bathe, use tampons, or have sex for 4-6 weeks.
The next few days were OK. I did have a lot of cramping, which felt like heavy period cramps. When I was released I was given some pain medication, but I didn’t really feel like I needed it except for the next day after the procedure. I had very light spotting for a few days, and then the bleeding became heavy. I thought that was strange, but after I spoke with my doctor I learned that it is completely normal. The bleeding lasted for several days.
I didn’t return to work for a few weeks after my D&C, but my situation was different than most. After the D&C was over, they sent the fetus and placenta away to find the cause of the demise. It was determined that I had experienced a partial molar pregnancy, which is where the embryo either develops incompletely or doesn’t develop at all.
The hormones caused my ovaries to hyperstimulate so there was concern with the type of work I do. Anyone that has a normal D&C can usually return to work in a couple of days as long as you are feeling OK to do so.
Though I am extremely sad about the situation, having a D&C was really not that bad. It’s a pretty quick procedure and the nurses that took care of me were great. The pain was tolerable. I would compare the recovery to a heavy period. I believe that you are normally told to wait about 3 months after a D&C to try to get pregnant. I have to wait about a year, but again my situation is different than most.
If you are going through this, let me just say that I am very sorry for your loss. Know that you are not alone. You will make it through! I hope sharing my experience helps you get an idea of what having a D&C is like.
Michelle is a 20-something who lives with her little family in Maryland. She drinks too much coffee and has a slight obsession with shoes. To her, the best people are ones who can laugh at themselves and who love to eat.
Order my eBook Miscarriage & Mourning: Encouragement after Pregnancy Loss on Amazon or as a PDF version here on my website.
You may also want to read:
- What I Didn’t Know About Miscarriage … Until I Had One
- Having a Natural Miscarriage
- Ways to Cope after Miscarriage
Be sure to follow my Pinterest board Miscarriage for more information articles and encouraging words.