Physical Recovery After a Miscarriage

South Africa, Portrait of young woman
momentimages/Getty Images

The physical recovery after a miscarriage or stillbirth is different for every woman. Much depends on how late or early the pregnancy loss occurred. In general, later pregnancy losses will have more a more difficult physical recovery than earlier or first-trimester miscarriages. Also, losses that involve a D&C or other procedures may have additional challenges in recovery.

Recovery From an Early Miscarriage 

With a very early miscarriage, the physical part of the miscarriage will be like a heavy menstrual period. Your vaginal bleeding may have clots, and you may experience heavier than normal cramping. Check with your doctor for a recommended painkiller. The bleeding should not remain heavy longer than a few days and will most likely stop entirely within two weeks.

Physically, you will probably feel normal fairly soon after the bleeding stops and your menstrual period will probably return within four to six weeks.

When to Call Your Doctor

If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor. They may be signs of a complication such as an infection, an incomplete miscarriage, or an ectopic pregnancy.

  • Severe cramping that doesn't stop, or any cramping that lasts more than two weeks
  • Heavy bleeding (soaking more than two maxi pads per hour for two hours or more), or any bleeding that lasts more than two weeks
  • High fever and/or chills
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge

Symptoms of excessive blood loss include pale, clammy skin, lightheadedness, or an increased heart rate. If you experience these along with significant vaginal bleeding, call 911.

Recovery After Nonsurgical First-Trimester Miscarriages

First-trimester pregnancy losses that don't involve a D&C may include large blood clots, possibly the size of golf balls. You may pass tissue fragments and a recognizable gestational sac or embryo. Your cramping may be heavy and you may need a painkiller (again, check with your doctor for recommendations). You may continue to feel pregnancy symptoms during the bleeding, but they should begin to fade.

The bleeding will probably last one to two weeks and your period should return within two months. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above (severe or prolonged cramping, heavy or prolonged bleeding, fever, or discharge), contact your doctor.

Recovery After a D&C or D&E

You may or may not experience vaginal bleeding after having a D&C or D&E. Your doctor will probably prescribe a painkiller to help you get through any cramping. He may also prescribe antibiotics and/or a medicine to help the uterus stay contracted to minimize bleeding. Most women are able to resume normal activities within a day or two after the procedure, but you may need to avoid tampons and sexual intercourse for about two weeks.

When to Call Your Doctor

If your bleeding is heavy, your cramping is severe, or either lasts more than a few days, let your doctor know. Also be aware of the signs of infection. Along with prolonged bleeding or cramping, these include fever over 100.4 degrees F, chills, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, tenderness in the uterus, and unusual drowsiness. An infection could be serious, so don't hesitate to seek medical attention right away.

Recovery After Vaginal Birth

If you had a stillbirth, you may have been medically induced. In the days following your loss, you may pass large blood clots and may have lower abdominal cramping. You may need to use a peri-bottle after using the bathroom and you may have very low physical stamina for a few days.

You may find yourself dealing with breast engorgement and a more difficult hormonal crash, which might feel like it intensifies the emotional aspects of your loss. Be easy on yourself and give yourself time to recover. As with earlier losses, you will probably be advised to avoid sexual intercourse for a period of time.

When to Call Your Doctor

As with a miscarriage, infection can develop after a vaginal stillbirth. Symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Fever greater than 100.4 degrees F
  • Pain that is worsening instead of decreasing
  • Bleeding that is heavy and/or increasing instead of decreasing
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge

General Considerations

With any miscarriage or pregnancy loss, your doctor will probably suggest that you get a RhoGAM shot if your blood type is Rh-negative. This prevents your body from developing antibodies that could complicate a future pregnancy.

Be sure to follow your doctor's advice about abstaining from sexual intercourse for a set amount of time and using pads rather than tampons during the initial bleeding. This will reduce your odds of developing an infection.

Your doctor may ask you to come in for a follow-up visit a week or two after your loss. This is a good time to bring your questions about when you can try again after a pregnancy loss or whether you need testing if you are having recurrent miscarriages.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  • American Pregnancy Association, "After a Miscarriage: Physical Recovery." Oct 2003. American Pregnancy Association. 
  • Mayo Clinic Staff, "Understanding miscarriage." MayoClinic.com. 27 Oct 2006.