Losing a baby - miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death

Inevitable miscarriage:

This is where miscarriage cannot be prevented and bleeding becomes profuse; brighter red as the placenta begins to separate from the wall of the uterus. You can feel shivery and sick and will probably experience pain, rather like strong period pains. Sometimes any previous feelings of being pregnant may stop at this time. The blood that is passed may be mixed with amniotic fluid and this can make the amount of blood lost seem frightening. Sometimes miscarriage is over very quickly, whilst for others it can go on for many hours and even days. However, pain relief is available.

Another type of miscarriage is a 'missed abortion'. This is where the foetus dies, but is not expelled, though there may be a little bleeding. Sometimes doctors wait to see if the pregnancy is reabsorbed by the body, or wait and see if miscarriage occurs naturally. If neither of these things occur and you are less than sixteen weeks pregnant a D & C is carried out. This stands for dilation and curettage and is a surgical procedure where the cervix is stretched and opened under either local, or general anaesthetic, and a spoon-shaped instrument (a curette) is used to scrape out the endometrium (lining of the uterus). This only takes a few minutes and you will be able to either go home that day, or early the next if all is well. If you are more than sixteen weeks pregnant labour will be induced and you should be offered pain relief - as you would during a normal delivery.


Picture of poppies

Feelings after miscarriage

Quite often you can feel surprisingly tired and almost always you suffer from grief - and anger - all perfectly normal. You might wonder whether you, or your partner did something wrong, but it is important to remember that such factors rarely cause miscarriage. Women also report being fearful that the same thing will happen again in any other pregnancies. The likelihood is that another pregnancy would be successful, but if you have had several miscarriages it is worth considering specialist help. Talk to your GP or gynaecologist about this and insist if they refuse.

After miscarriage you may have to face the inevitable, "You could always try for another baby ..." from those well-wishers who know what you have been through, but it is a good idea to remember that these people are only trying to help and think that it is comforting for you to hear this. Nothing can replace the baby you have lost and it is important to acknowledge this and to share your feelings - particularly with your partner - and then to try and move forward. It can take a long time to get over the death of a child, but if you want to make contact with people who fully understand the nature of your grief, please go to the 'Addresses' and 'Links' section of this site for more details.


What if I do want to try and become pregnant again?

If you want to you can attempt pregnancy again after one or two normal menstrual cycles, but you should check this out with your doctor first. It is also important that you and your partner know when you are ready to try for another baby - both emotionally and physically.


*Note: on 1/10/92 the legal defitinition of the term "stillbirth" was changed from a baby born dead after 28 or more weeks completed gestation, to one born dead after 24 or more weeks completed gestation.

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