The Miscarriage Process

Most miscarriages begin in places away from hospital and like all births, miscarrying can take anywhere from under an hour to days or even weeks to unfold fully (see ‘Types of Miscarriage’). Miscarrying is a natural process and happens when a baby hasn’t formed completely. Unlike most of us who have experienced it, medically, miscarriage is considered a minor event, not necessarily requiring professional monitoring. Being checked out afterward though is a necessity.

Except for the timing, miscarriages usually happen in the same way. A fast miscarriage can be really shocking and frightening once the process begins to happen, especially if it is your first pregnancy and you have no idea what to expect. Pain can quite quickly reach a level beyond anything you have experienced before (each person’s level of pain is individual) and the amount of blood loss may seem too large an amount to survive. However, be reassured that miscarriage is very seldom fatal. Although no intervention can save your baby, for your own healthy recovery see the following suggestions.

A Typical Miscarriage

  • Take a few deep breathes and try to think about what is actually happening. If you can, it is a good idea to jot thoughts down including any questions you may have, before phoning anyone. Meantime, if you can find someone around to help, ask them to do it for you. Keep track of; when the pains started; their strength and location; when the bleeding began; how many sanitary pads have been used and how often changed.
  • Contact your professional medical carer (whose information is always good to keep handy) and describe your symptoms so she can help you make a decision on what to do
  • If you wish to complete your miscarriage at home and she agrees to help you through this time, you will be in her hands
  • If he or she suggests calling the hospital they still need to know what is happening as well so they can check a) you receive the correct immediate care b) you received the appropriate after care including a D&C if necessary
  • If you contact the hospital they may advise a friend/relative to drive you in while they sort out arrangements for you to be admitted. In the car, lie down on your side on the back seat (the most comfortable position, and it also reduces blood flow) and take extra towels with you.
  • Or dial our emergency number anyway 111 NZ ( or US 911 ) for an ambulance if you wish. (There is a fee for this service in NZ)
  • The loss of blood and lack of concentration means Never Driving Yourself. You could also lose consciousness
  • Meantime, if you haven’t already, try and find a support person and take things quietly. To relieve pain take paracetamol (not aspirin) but do not exceed stated dosage, lie down and place a hot water-bottle, wheat bag or heat pack on your lower abdomen or back
  • To soak up the blood towels may be more useful. Do not use tampons or bathe. Shower only if you have a support person with you N.B. If you are able and wish to, have a strong stomach and can cope, squat over a clean container so you can save everything which can then be seen by your medical professional. (A warning; you may also see your baby’s foetus.) The results can be sent for testing which may be useful with future pregnancies. You are entitled to have everything back for burial/cremation
  • If possible in the waiting time, pack a bag with 2 nighties, underwear dressing gown, slippers, toilet kit with toothbrush and paste, face cloth, soap and sanitary pads
  • As you may need a D&C, avoid eating or drinking except for regular small sips of water. Your stomach must be empty for the anaesthetic
  • If you have children or pets, have your support person make arrangements for their care or if there is no-one, let the ambulance people know when they come and offer them phone numbers

If you are undecided about going to hospital;

It would be a better choice
a) if you are losing so much blood that you feel faint and as if you are going into shock
b) if you have persistent bleeding filling more than one sanitary pad in half an hour and pass pieces of placenta, which look like blood clots or liver.

For those who cope at home;

Once the miscarriage is over, ring your medical professional or the hospital to let them know you have passed your baby. It is important that you are examined later to determine whether or not the miscarriage is complete. You may be sent for a scan to confirm the findings. Remaining unpassed tissue can cause infection with serious consequences to following pregnancies and also cause sterility. Your miscarriage needs to be recorded on medical files for future reference.