If you’ve just googled “is diarrhea a sign of early pregnancy” and landed on this article, you’re far from alone. All of us experience some degree of diarrhea in life, unfortunately. It’s also relatively common, among people with uteruses, to wonder whether random health symptoms that pop up from time to time might mean you’re pregnant.
Well, we consulted the poop and pregnancy pros to find out if diarrhea is in fact an early pregnancy symptom. Here’s what they said.
- What, exactly, is diarrhea?
- Here’s how pregnancy affects your poop.
- Of course, diarrhea in early pregnancy can happen.
- Why Might I be Pooping More During Pregnancy?
- When Should I be Concerned About Pooping a Lot?
- Will You Poop During Labor?!
- Why Do We Poop While in Labor?
- Can I Prevent This?
- Do Epidurals Increase My Chance of Pooping?
- What Will My Doctor Think?!
- After a miscarriage
- A certificate for your baby
- Pregnancy-related mailings
- Here Is Exactly What Happened When I Had A Miscarriage
- Why You Could Be Having Pregnancy Night Sweats — and What to Do About Them
- What Are Night Sweats?
- What Causes Pregnancy Night Sweats?
- The Trimesters And Night Sweats
- Other Causes for Night Sweats
- 5 Ways To Treat Night Sweats
- How To Go Back to Sleep After Night Sweats
- What To Buy For Night Sweats
- Surviving Night Sweats
- Am I Having a Miscarriage? What It May Feel Like
- Most Americans don’t know how common miscarriages are
- What are the different miscarriage symptoms and signs?
- When should I contact my doctor?
- How long does a miscarriage last?
- How long do you bleed after a miscarriage?
- When will I get my period again?
- What causes a miscarriage?
- Is getting pregnant after a miscarriage possible?
- How soon after a miscarriage can you get pregnant?
- Study: Conceive sooner after miscarriage to reduce complications
- How can I support my partner?
What, exactly, is diarrhea?
Diarrhea is basically poop hell. But more technically speaking, it’s defined as loose, watery bowel movements that occur three or more times in a day, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It usually lasts just a day or two, which is called acute diarrhea. (Diarrhea that lasts longer than a few days may signal a more serious problem, as can diarrhea lasting a few weeks, called chronic diarrhea.)
Ever wonder what’s actually going on in your body to make your butt expel its contents so violently? There are a few different potential mechanisms, depending on the underlying cause (of which there are many, which we’ll get to). But generally speaking, diarrhea occurs when your digestive system fails to remove enough water from the stool as it moves through, Rudolph Bedford, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF. That commonly happens when stool moves too quickly through the digestive tract, as Merck Manuals explains, or when your stool is diluted by excess water secreted by the intestines.
Here’s how pregnancy affects your poop.
You already know that your hormones fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle, and you might also know that these hormonal changes can make your poop real weird around the time of your period. That’s largely thanks to a hormone that helps prep your body for pregnancy called progesterone.
Progesterone levels increase after ovulation, anticipating that the egg your ovaries just released will be fertilized, the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains. If you don’t become pregnant, progesterone levels fall back down, and you get your period. If the egg does get fertilized and you do become pregnant, your levels of progesterone will continue to rise, Mary Rosser, M.D., Ph.D., an ob-gyn at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, tells SELF.
How does this early pregnancy progesterone surge affect poop? One of the hormone’s many effects is to relax smooth muscles, like your uterus and intestines. While relaxed intestines might sound like a recipe for the loose, speedy bowel movements that characterize diarrhea, that isn’t what actually happens. In fact, without your GI muscles contracting as hard to move things along, food passage starts to slow down and bowel movements become sluggish, G. Thomas Ruiz, M.D., an ob-gyn at Memorial Care Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SELF.
In other words, high levels of progesterone result in constipation, i.e. the exact opposite of diarrhea. That’s why many women experience constipation in early pregnancy. And why “Diarrhea is not a good or reliable sign of early pregnancy,” Dr. Rosser says.
Of course, diarrhea in early pregnancy can happen.
You certainly can get diarrhea in early pregnancy, whether it’s due to something you ate or a stomach bug, Dr. Rosser says. Diarrhea has a ton of potential causes, including bacteria-contaminated food or water, viruses (like the flu or norovirus), parasites, certain medications (like antibiotics), and food intolerances (like lactose intolerance), according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. (And sometimes, the cause is a mystery, but that’s typically NBD if it goes away after a couple days.) All of those things can mess with your GI functioning, whether you’re pregnant or not.
That’s why Dr. Ruiz compares looking at diarrhea as an early sign (or not) of pregnancy to trying to read tea leaves. Basically, you’re going to see what you want to see. At the end of the day, no single symptom is a foolproof sign that you’re pregnant. So even though it’s tempting to interpret every weird body thing as a sign that you’re expecting, a missed period and positive pregnancy test are really the best indicators that you might be pregnant.
- Here’s Why Your Poop Can Be So Freaking Weird on Your Period
- 7 Fascinating Ways Your Boobs Can Change During Pregnancy
- What’s the Deal With That Brown Discharge Before and After Your Period?
Yes ladies, we’re going there. Don’t deny it, you’ve clearly wondered yourself or you wouldn’t be on this page – is it normal to poop this much during pregnancy?
Nine times out of ten the answer is yes. Pooping a lot is a normal (albeit annoying) pregnancy symptom.
Most women find it goes one of two ways in the BM department – either you’re constipated, or you’re going more frequently.
Of course just to keep it interesting, things can then swing back the other way too. Diarrhea one month and constipated the next.
Oh, the joys of pregnancy!
You are very likely to experience changes to your bowel habits during pregnancy, and that includes how many times you actually go to the toilet per day, how big they are (yes some women experience massive poops), what the consistency is like, and you can even poop a rainbow of colors. As we mentioned, pregnancy truly is a wonderful time…
Table of Contents
Why Might I be Pooping More During Pregnancy?
Poop may not be something you’ve talked about or even thought much about before now. And if it is a new topic for you you might feel a little embarrassed sharing your experience with others. Don’t let a little embarrassment put you off though. If you’re worried, definitely speak to your midwife or doctor, it’s something that they’ll have a lot of experience with and they’ll be able to guide you on the best course of action.
One thing that is normal about being pregnant is that you become hyper-aware of absolutely everything happening in your body.
Questioning whether each symptom is normal or something to worry about is also par for the course. When you don’t normally poop more than once or twice a day of course you’re going to be concerned.
Let’s look at some of the most common reasons you might find yourself pooping more during pregnancy.
The high levels of pregnancy hormones mean that most of us will experience at least a few unwanted side effects during pregnancy – pooping a lot might be one of them for you. The hormone progesterone has the effect of relaxing muscles and that includes the ones responsible for digestion. The consequence for many women is constipation, but for others it’s pooping a lot instead.
2. Supplements (Especially Iron)
Nowadays most of us take a prenatal supplement during pregnancy and these can upset the stomach of some women. Folic acid or folate is super important but you may not need the rest if your diet is good.
Anemia is common in pregnancy and so is the prescription of an iron supplement. Iron is known to irritate the stomach of some women and can cause you to poop more than normal. It’s important to carry on taking iron but talk to your doctor about alternative forms of iron you could take instead.
3. Anxiety and Stress
Another reason for an increased number of bowel movements is anxiety and stress. When you first find out you’re pregnant, it’s totally normal to be nervous and even scared. There’s no guarantee that anxiety will go away as you progress through your pregnancy either. If you do feel that anxiety or high stress levels is the reason for your change in poop habits maybe it’s a good time to learn some ways to relax.
4. Dietary Changes
Of course, it could simply be down to the change in your diet. When you find out you’re pregnant, it’s likely that it’s a kick to change your diet and look after yourself in a better way. This means eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking more water. All of this can have a direct impact on your bowel movements, and you could very well find that you’re heading to the bathroom more often as a result. It could really be that simple, and changing your diet to become healthier is no bad thing anyway.
When Should I be Concerned About Pooping a Lot?
Where’s the line between pooping more frequently and diarrhea? Diarrhea is classed as 3 or more stools per day, usually with a watery consistency. If it’s simply that you’re going to the toilet to poop a couple of times more than you normally would, then there’s probably nothing to worry about. But if you think you’re suffering from diarrhea then make it a priority to have a chat with your doctor or midwife.
It’s important not to ignore diarrhea as you could become severely dehydrated, and depending on the reason for the diarrhea, you may need additional treatment such as antibiotics as well.
Some Common Reasons for Diarrhea
- Stomach bug
- Food Poisoning
- Celiac Disease
- Lactose Intolerance
- IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- Alcohol Sugars (such as sorbitol, erythritol, xylitol)
- Food Sensitivities
Whether your pooping a lot is down to one of the common reasons during pregnancy or is actual diarrhea, you should get it checked out. Especially if it’s an acute attack. In most cases it’s nothing to worry about and is caused by those pesky pregnancy hormones but it’s always worth ruling out other, more serious reasons.
Will You Poop During Labor?!
Alex James Bramwell/
What terrifies a mom-to-be more than pushing a 6-to-8-pound person out of her vagina? Pooping at the very same time. “It was all I could think about with my first pregnancy!” admits Lauren Smith, a mother of two in Palm Bay, Florida. “Throughout active labor, I kept asking my husband if I was pooping. He reassured me that, no, I wasn’t, but I felt like he was lying! I couldn’t focus on breathing or listen to what my body was trying to tell me. I was fixated and terrified that I was pooping.”
Think Smith is extreme? Not so much. The fear of pooping during labor “comes up nine times out of ten — at least!” says Marie Bigelow, a staff doula at Boise Women’s Health & Birth Center in Idaho. “And having a bowel movement during pushing is extremely common.”
So stop obsessing, mama! Here’s what you need to know about the pushing-and-pooping connection.
- Read real-life birth stories
Why Do We Poop While in Labor?
There’s a simple reason: The very same muscles that you engage when you’re having a bowel movement are the same ones you use when you’re pushing, says Bigelow. Plus, when you’re in labor, you have extra pressure on your colon and rectum from the weight of the baby moving through the birth canal. (Think of your colon as a tube of toothpaste. Baby squeezes out any poop left in the lower part of the tube as he or she exits.) “It’s the perfect recipe for pooping during labor,” she says.
Adding to your poop probability: prostaglandins. These hormones are naturally involved in normal bowel function, says Jason James, M.D., chairman of the ob-gyn department at Baptist Hospital of Miami, but “they’re also the main hormones implicated in the initiation of labor. In fact, some prostaglandins are used to induce labor.”
- Shop maternity clothes
Can I Prevent This?
Not really. But you might naturally have a bowel movement before the final stage of labor, which reduces the amount of stool in the colon that would come out while pushing, says Katie Page, a Certified Nurse-Midwife in Forest, Virginia. (This is thanks, once again, to the release of prostaglandins.) That’s what happened to Stafford, Virginia, mom and children’s book author Sandra Magura. “I was so grateful that my body decided to get rid of everything first, because I was so afraid of pooping during labor,” she says. Whether you’re allowed to get up to use the bathroom at the pre-push stage of the game, however, depends on whether you have an epidural and on your health-care provider. “Some hospitals and providers don’t encourage it, but in my practice, the clients are up and out of bed unless they have a major pregnancy problem that it is harmful to her or the baby. And If you feel like you have to poop and it’s not a baby’s head coming out, you can go to the bathroom and see what happens,” says Page.
Some docs still promote pre-labor enemas to clear the way, but it’s no longer standard practice. In fact, the routine use of enemas during labor is now discouraged, according to a 2013 Cochrane review, which is a systematic review of several studies on the subject. The report notes that these types of enemas didn’t show benefit to laboring women. Yet some doctors still recommend them for the psychological benefit they may have with patients.
Do Epidurals Increase My Chance of Pooping?
Not really. But if you have an epidural you won’t feel the sensation of needing to empty your bowels. “If there is stool in the rectum, it is going to come out one way or another as you push the baby through the birth canal,” says Dr. James. “With an epidural, you may be more relaxed and stool may pass on its own, or the stool may simply be released as you push.”
What Will My Doctor Think?!
“A lot of my patients have this fear,” says Dr. James. “But they should all know that, as an obstetrician, I’m very accustomed to patients moving their bowels while pushing — and it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s just a fact of life and part of the whole process.” What does bother Dr. James — and other birthing pros — is that the fear of pooping can inhibit pushing effectively. “Resisting that urge, or trying to fight what your body is doing, can make the pushing part of birth particularly miserable, and may even increase the time of pushing,” says Page. “I understand that women are afraid of the smell, worried about what family members may think, or especially worried about having a BM in front of their partner, but your body will eventually have the uncontrollable urge to push, so you can’t be inhibited forever!”
As for Lauren Smith, she barely gave pooping-while-pushing a thought her second go-round in the delivery room. “It was the least of my concerns,” she says. “Since I knew what to expect, I didn’t psych myself out as much. Instead, during hard labor, I made sure to have a focal point and simply let my body do what came natural…even if that involved pooping.”
Copyright © 2015 Meredith Corporation.
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.
- By Holly Pevzner
After a miscarriage
this leaflet and below. There are some things to think about and you may want to contact us for further information.
If you miscarry at home
If you miscarry at home or somewhere else that’s not a hospital, you are very likely to pass the remains of your pregnancy into the toilet. (This can happen in hospital too.) You may look at what has come away and see a pregnancy sac and/or the fetus – or something you think might be the fetus. You might want to simply flush the toilet – many people do that automatically – or you may want to remove the remains for a closer look. That’s natural too.
You might think about bringing the remains to your GP or hospital, perhaps for them to confirm that you have miscarried or because they may be able to do some tests. Tests on pregnancy remains aren’t usually done unless you are having other investigations, but if they are, you may be asked to keep the remains cold until you can bring them to the hospital.
You might choose to ask the hospital or GP to dispose of the remains of your pregnancy. Or you may decide to bury the remains yourself: at home, in the garden (as Erin did); or in a planter with flowers or a shrub; or perhaps somewhere else, as Jenny did. There are some things to think about and you may want to contact us for further information.
A certificate for your baby
Although there is no legal certificate after a pregnancy loss before 24 weeks, some hospitals provide a certificate for parents to mark what has happened. For many parents, this is an important memento.
If you have not been given a certificate but would like to have one, contact a nurse or midwife on the ward or unit where you were cared for, the hospital chaplain, the PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison) officer, or the hospital bereavement service. If they don’t have anything they can offer, you could ask them to use one of the examples shown here.
The national Mailing Preference Service allows consumers to register their wish not to receive unsolicited direct mail. They also have a Baby Mailing Preference Service to enable parents who have suffered a miscarriage or bereavement of a baby in the first weeks of life to register their wish not to receive baby related mailings. You can find further information about stopping or reducing targeted advertising and emails here.
Here Is Exactly What Happened When I Had A Miscarriage
Refinery29Follow Aug 17, 2016 · 12 min read
By Anna Maltby
ILLUSTRATED BY: LY NGO
Late this spring, I was pregnant, and then, just as summer arrived, I was not. It was scary and sad, and there are probably a lot of very emotional things I could say about it — and someday I may well write about those feelings, as well as about how I hate phrases like “rainbow babies,” and how “At least you know you can get pregnant” and “This happens to a lot of people” are both accurate things to say but probably shouldn’t be your initial reaction when someone tells you they lost a pregnancy. But the main thing I felt about the experience was unprepared. When I discovered I was at a high risk for having one, I realized I barely even knew what a miscarriage was, not to mention how to tell if I was having one, how to know whether I needed medical care, or how to deal with myself and my life, physically, while it was happening.
What I really wanted to know was this: What should I expect? And it was very, very hard to find answers. Partly, I think, because — kind of like pregnancies, and labor and childbirth experiences — miscarriages vary widely, and there’s not necessarily a Platonic ideal here, no precisely “normal” run of show.
So that’s why I’ve decided to tell this story straight: the details of what actually happened during my particular miscarriage. It’s not going to be pretty — in fact, it’s going to be very, very ugly, soplease do not read this if you’re easily grossed out — but I’m doing this for everyone else who may be going through it right now, or who will in the future, or who did in the past. Because the one sappy thing I will bring myself to say is this: Women go through some incredibly shitty shit, and they are amazing, and this experience revealed that to me in a way that I never could have anticipated. So this is for them. And for me.
Friday, May 20: I’ve been trying to get pregnant for about eight months, so I attend my first appointment with the acupuncturist (and all-around lovely person) Aimee Raupp, who specializes in fertility. She does my workup, and while I insist that I had my period earlier this week — at least, I think I had it — she thinks I may be pregnant and suggests taking a test this weekend.
Sunday, May 22: I take a pregnancy test. It seems positive? The plus sign is a little faded. I run to Target and buy the digital kind, and that one is pretty unmistakeable. I realize thatwasn’t my period last week; it was implantation bleeding, and I’m about five weeks along. Freak-outs ensue. My husband, Akshay, is elated. I’m 30% elated, 70% certain this is too good to be true. We call our parents and our best friends. There are lots of tears.
Saturday, June 4: Akshay and I are on vacation in Dublin. We have sex. I use the bathroom, and there’s blood when I wipe. It doesn’t seem to continue, so I try not to worry, but I’m pregnant and bleeding, so it’s hard not to.
Sunday, June 5 through Thursday, June 16: I find brownish spots in my underwear, or see a drop or two in the toilet or when I wipe, almost daily for nearly two weeks. I call my doctor, and she says it’s quite common and that there’s not necessarily a need to worry unless there is a greater volume of discharge and it looks like red blood. It never gets to that point, so again, I try not to worry, but.
Friday, June 17: I’m about eight weeks along now. I visit my new Ob/Gyn for my first prenatal appointment, where she says she’ll do an ultrasound to check for a heartbeat and make sure everything looks good so far. She inserts the ultrasound wand. Akshay grabs my hand — it’s like we’re setting the scene for “that ultrasound moment.” And then, the doctor calmly turns the screen our way to show us. She says, “This dark area is the gestational sac, but I don’t see anything inside, and I don’t detect a heartbeat. There’s a chance that we miscalculated and you aren’t as far along as you thought, but I would say you have about a 60% chance that this is not a viable pregnancy.” We spend the weekend crying.
ILLUSTRATED BY: LY NGO
Monday, June 20: I’ve gotten myself to a place where I feel comfortably numb. And I have a photo shoot today for work, so I need to be on point. In a way, it’s nice to have a distraction — when you’re on set, it’s busy, and there’s no sitting at your desk and staring out the window and ruminating. The shoot goes well, but on my bathroom breaks at the studio, I notice that the spotting has gotten worse. It’s not quite red blood, but it looks sort of like the last day of a period: dark brown, streaky goop in my underwear and the toilet. I go back to the set and back into Chipper Fitness Editor mode.
Akshay and I meet up and walk home, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and I talk to him about how my discharge has changed, but I’m not sure what it means — and the more I think about it, the more I have no idea what to expect if something does, indeed, go wrong. I call Akshay’s cousin, an Ob/Gyn based in California, and she walks me through it: Based on what my doctor saw and said, she guesses our chances aren’t good. The miscarriage may happen on its own, and it’ll be like a very heavy period with very bad cramps. If it doesn’t, I can either have a D&C procedure or take a medication to induce the miscarriage. I think, In a way, I hope this happens on its own. I don’t want to have to have some awful procedure or take some weird drug on top of everything else. She also tells me that if it does happen naturally, I’m probably best off just dealing with it on my own — if I’m filling more than two pads per hour or feel faint, I should go to the ER, but other than that, it’s probably more comfortable to just let it pass at home.
THERE’S NO MISTAKING IT: THE BLEEDING HAS STARTED IN EARNEST.
We arrive home, and I go to the bathroom, and there’s no mistaking it: The bleeding has started in earnest. I think, Okay, here we go. I decide to try to be cool about all this. I have a pad handy, for some reason, so I change my underwear and put on the pad. I don’t have any other pads, so I have to ask Akshay to go buy me some. By the time he gets home, I’ve lost what little fragment of cool I thought I might be able to have — the cramps have started already, and they are bad. Way worse than period cramps, which are pretty awful to begin with. I’m tearing the house apart looking for Advil. Turns out, Akshay had it in his work bag. I take a few and get myself into bed with a heating pad. I toss and turn, and maybe sleep a little, eventually.
Tuesday, June 21: I wake up, go into the bathroom, and close the door. As I’m pulling down my shorts and underwear to use the toilet, I realize there is practically a flood of thick, viscous blood gushing out of me at too fast a pace to be caught by my pad. (It’s not that I’m actually bleeding this heavily, it’s just that I’ve been horizontal for seven or eight hours and it’s all been pooling.) Blood gets everywhere: my underwear, my pajamas, the toilet seat, the floor. I wipe up what I can reach from the toilet seat, then do some Kegels to see if maybe I can clear more of it out of me before I stand up to get a new pad. I change pads, then get on my hands and knees to scrub the blood off the tile floor.
I send a friendly email to my team: “Hey y’all — I have a health thing going on and will be doing some combo of WFH and sick day today. Will keep you posted and hope to be in tomorrow.” I spend most of the day on the couch, sitting on a red towel. Thanks to the benevolent gods at Netflix, the new season of Orange Is The New Black has just been released — the perfect “Something terrible is happening to me and I need distraction and to be reminded of the incredible strength of women” binge-watch. Every time I get up to go to the bathroom, I bleed more, and my cat has taken my spot on the red towel by the time I get back to the couch.
ILLUSTRATED BY: LY NGO
“Red Wedding”-like morning aside, things are honestly going pretty smoothly. There’s a lot of blood, but it’s not much more than my worst period days. I have cramps, but they’ve improved since last night, and I’m handling them with Advil and the heating pad. I start thinking about how my best friend is on maternity leave, and how it might be nice to take advantage of the chance to see her and her 8-week-old daughter during a weekday. I text her and see if she wants to meet up — she’s aware of what’s happening and wants to help however she can. I get myself dressed and start heading out, but I immediately begin to wonder whether this is a good idea. I’m a little dizzy, and very tired, and I just feel off. I make it to the smoothie shop where we said we’d meet, and we get a smoothie, but I’m pretty sure I’m acting super weird. I’m telling her all the gory details — they’re just coming out of me, no pause to consider whether she really wants to hear them, though she listens kindly and graciously. We walk to the park, and I start feeling worse. I realize I’m barely listening to anything she’s saying, and reluctantly tell her I need to go home. I feel awful for making her go to the trouble of getting ready, strapping on the baby, and walking in the summer heat to meet up with me.
I get on the subway and am not sure I’m going to make it home. I’m hot and nauseous. I get off at my stop and call my mom and brother (not really for help, mostly to distract myself), and they are both very, very worried and very, very sweet. I get inside, strip down to my underwear, and lie on my bed on top of the covers, trying to cool down. I go to the bathroom, and there’s another flood — but this time, it’s happening in real time. I’ve never seen this much blood come out of anyone, except maybe in a terribly gory movie, which is not exactly my genre of choice. And then there are the clots: Unnervingly solid chunks the size of apple slices just fall out of me. I can’t imagine how they were able to squeeze themselves out through my cervix.
I cry, for what might actually be the first time that day. I’m sad, yes, but these are tears of horror, disgust, and shock — and frustration about my life’s total incompetence at preparing me for this. There are also some tears of embarrassment: How stupid could I be, thinking the middle of a miscarriage would be a good time to meet up with a friend for a fucking smoothie?!
I’M SAD, YES, BUT THESE ARE TEARS OF HORROR, DISGUST, AND SHOCK — AND FRUSTRATION ABOUT MY LIFE’S TOTAL INCOMPETENCE AT PREPARING ME FOR THIS.
I calm down, and things slow down in my pelvis, and I get back on the couch and cue up OITNBagain. I text Akshay and ask him if he wouldn’t mind going to Target to buy me some new underwear — I own mostly thongs, and thongs are not pad-friendly, so I need briefs. He gets home with my undies, and we research what you’re supposed to eat after significant blood loss. Meat, it seems, and leafy greens. We order pork schnitzel and a spinach salad from the nearby German restaurant.
Wednesday, June 22: I wake up, go to the bathroom, and see that the bleeding has slowed down significantly. I decide to take it a bit easy and see how I feel, so I sleep for another hour, watch some crappy morning TV, and at about 10:00 decide I’ll just feel shittier if I stay home again. I get myself together and go into work, but when I arrive I again get the feeling that this might not have been the best idea. I can barely make eye contact with anyone — I feel like a shell of a person. It’s just too weird to be there, to try to act like everything’s normal. I make it through the rest of the day, and then head to Naturopathica in Chelsea, where I’d scheduled a massage a few weeks ago that our Ob/Gyn cousin told me it would be safe to have post-miscarriage. The massage therapist starts to touch my back, and I’m suddenly in tears, from relief at feeling cared for and comforted.
Thursday, June 23: The bleeding is about the same. I go to work on time and feel slightly more human. I even manage to crack a smile at someone’s joke. I realize tomorrow is the birthday of two editors on my team, and one of them will be on vacation, so I throw together some plans for a last-minute celebration.
After lunch, I go to the bathroom and wipe, and a blueberry-sized, odd-looking reddish object appears on the toilet paper. I look closer and realize it’s the fetus — it looks just like those 3D illustrations from the pregnancy-tracking apps that tell you what fruit your baby is the size of this week. I am shell-shocked. I can’t believe I’m seeing this right in front of me. I’d thought this was over. And what the fuck do you do with a fetus that comes out of you in your office bathroom? I burst into silent tears, then try to breathe deeply and think more clearly. My doctor’s office is just downstairs, and they’ll know what to do. I unroll a clean piece of toilet paper, carefully transfer the fetus onto it, wrap it up gently, and put it in my pocket. I exit the stall, wash my hands, and get on the elevator.
At the doctor’s office, a kind nurse tells me that I don’t need to do anything with the fetus — they don’t test these things unless you’ve had three in a row or you’re over 35. Then she asks me how I’m staying so calm and positive. “I’m just barely keeping it together, I can assure you,” I say. I go back upstairs and back into the bathroom. I look at the fetus one last time, spend half a second wondering if I should take a photo or something, and flush it. I later learn via Google that this kind of odd-sounding instinct (to hold or touch or photograph the fetus) is extremely normal, which actually makes me feel a little better. I sob silently in the bathroom for a few more minutes — this time, tears of trauma and exhaustion — and then splash water on my face and head back to my desk. I text Akshay to tell him what just happened, and he comes running — his office is maybe a 15-minute walk away, but he’s here in six. We walk through lower Tribeca and the upper Financial District, and I tell him about the whole thing. I’m upset, but it’s hard to sustain, so we also look at cute dogs and make jokes, which also feels weird. I feel better and go back to the office. I’m 15 minutes late for the birthday surprise. I walk in, and my team hands me a card and a little bag of cookies as a congratulations for my recent promotion. I almost cry again, from gratitude.
Monday, June 27: I go in for a follow-up at my Ob/Gyn’s office. We’d scheduled a second ultrasound after the first one didn’t look promising, just in case there were any positive changes. Even though I obviously knew there wouldn’t be, I kept the appointment so we could do an ultrasound to see if there was any tissue left in my uterus — a suggestion from Akshay’s Ob/Gyn cousin. My Ob/Gyn is businesslike but gentle, reminding me that if this pregnancy didn’t work out, it’s because there was likely something very wrong with the fetus, and it wouldn’t have been a healthy baby. The ultrasound is clear — my uterus is completely empty. It’s over. Physically, at least.
Read This Next: What No One Tells You About Having A Miscarriage
“I didn’t know what to do, I was 27. It was supposed to be an easy thing to get pregnant and have a baby and I became obsessed, with replacing that pregnancy, it took us 8 months to fall again.
“I fell pregnant again and sadly I lost that one as well and I was just gutted, I just couldn’t believe it happened again.
“You’re in a dark place, you feel like you can’t talk about it but you want to talk about it, but who is there to talk about it with, apart from your partner, but they are going through it as well.”
A miscarriage is the loss of pregnancy during the first 23 weeks, although most occur within the first 12 weeks, with the majority unable to be prevented.
Ectopic pregnancies effect just one in 90 pregnancies, this occurs when the fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in the fallopian tubes. It is not possible to save the pregnancy when this happens.
Dr Jessia Farren, who has been completing research into early pregnancy loss believes that more can be done with the service that is offered to these women.
Completing research at Imperial College London, she said: “Unlike in healthy pregnancies where six weeks after you have a baby there is a routine screening in place to check your mental health, there just isn’t anything like that after a miscarriage or a ectopic pregnancy.
“Despite the fact that we are finding that actually these women seem to be suffering just as much if not more.”
More and more research is being spent into whether miscarriages can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, which can be caused my distressful events, and causes people to relive these events through thoughts or images.
Why You Could Be Having Pregnancy Night Sweats — and What to Do About Them
Changes in hormones
It’s true: These important (but sometimes eye roll inducing) regulators can push your body into the hot zone. It may stem from estrogen and progesterone transitions during pregnancy that catapult from a carousel ride to a thrilling roller coaster seemingly overnight.
This 2016 study on sex hormones’ effects on thermoregulation explains that estrogens lower body temperatures by boosting the body’s ability to dissipate heat. But how? Sweat! In addition, progesterone may be at play raising the body’s temps.
So all of this night sweat business could be a result of your body simply trying to adjust to a sudden or drastic hormonal or metabolic change.
Increased blood flow
A pregnant woman’s blood plasma volume increases by up to 40 percent compared to pre-pregnancy. And it continues to rise to 60 percent (or more) by the end of the third trimester.
Your blood vessels then dilate (widen) to deliver more blood to your skin’s surface. And voila! There’s your sensation of always feeling “warmer.”
There’s evidence to suggest your temperature control is further complicated while sleeping. During a natural human circadian rhythm, core body temperatures steadily decrease throughout sleep cycles, but guess what regulates this process? Your skin’s outer temperature, which a 2012 study states can adjust blood flow to the skin to help regulate core body temperature.
It’s plausible that the natural rise in peripheral skin temperature during pregnancy could interfere with the body’s normal mechanism for decreasing core body temperatures in sleep. This might even cause that sudden wake-up due to feeling drenched.
Just when you thought you’d heard enough about hormones, we’re here to tell you more — this time, thanks to your thyroid gland.
Thyroid hormones help regulate metabolism and body temperature. Too much thyroid hormone may have you feeling overheated in general or during sleep.
This 2016 review of physiological changes during pregnancy explains that during the first trimester, thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3) increase, falling again slightly as you enter the second and third trimesters.
TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), on the other hand, decreases in the beginning of the first trimester and increases again before the second trimester begins.
Pregnancy may also cause an iodine deficiency, which can alter your thyroid hormone function even further.
These normal thyroid hormone fluctuations during pregnancy, in addition to those that may be caused by more serious thyroid disorders and diseases, can cause temperature regulation issues and, therefore, lead to night sweats.
If you have chronic night sweats that aren’t going away or a history of thyroid issues, we urge you to speak to your OB-GYN for further evaluation.
Night sweats could be a signal of a more serious infection or condition. It’s a classic symptom of tuberculosis and lymphoma, which would be an extremely rare reason for night sweats during pregnancy.
But pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of certain infections that may cause night sweats due to normal changes in the immune system, among other physiological adjustments.
An article published in 2014 explains that pregnant women can be more susceptible to — and more severely affected by — certain organisms. Some of these include:
- influenza virus (flu)
- hepatitis E virus
- herpes simplex virus
- malaria parasites
During pregnancy, there’s also a heightened susceptibility to foodborne infections caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.
If your night sweats are accompanied by other concerning symptoms — such as muscle aches, fever, flu-like symptoms, nausea, and diarrhea — it’s critical to call your OB immediately.
Medication side effects
From antidepressants to over-the-counter cold, acid reflux, and decongestant medications, many drugs carry the side effect of excessive sweating or night sweats. If you’re taking any medication or supplement while pregnant, check with your pharmacist or OB about your night sweat risk.
One medication to be aware of is ondansetron (Zofran), which is commonly prescribed during pregnancy to help relieve nausea. If you’re taking Zofran and experience persistent night sweats, consult with your OB.
Low blood sugar
During pregnancy, your metabolism is in overdrive to give your little one all the nutrition required to grow from the size of a mere seed to a watermelon. That means that you can be left a little depleted if you don’t consume enough calories, or equally balanced calories, throughout the day.
If this is the case, you could experience hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. And night sweats, or nocturnal hypoglycemia, can be a tell-tale sign.
While this study states that hypoglycemia is rare in pregnant women who are not diabetic, women who have any form of diabetes or its risk factors should be aware of the possible connection to night sweats.
This month, we’ve touched on toddlers and night sweats and the importance of balanced nutrition on night sweats. But, what about early pregnancy and night sweats? Night sweats can occur as soon as the first trimester of pregnancy — in fact, that is often when night sweats are at their worst.
According to a study by Stanford University, the use of antiemetic medications can elicit night sweats. Antiemetic medications, like Zofran or Metroclopramide, are given to women who suffer from extreme nausea early in the pregnancy — it helps to reduce vomiting and stomach upsets. However, this medication often increases flushing, night sweats and hot flashes.
As with women in menopause, or people generally as they age or go through various bodily changes, hormones impact the production of night sweats. “The part of the brain that regulates your heat levels is impacted by the change in hormones, causing you to sweat more,” writes Degree. “Night sweats and excessive sweating in early pregnancy tend to reduce over the nine months, but may increase near your delivery date due to further hormonal changes.”
Often times, early pregnancy and night sweats occur during the first two to three weeks. This is due to the rapid fluctuation of estrogen that is produced naturally by the body. However, night sweats can also be tied to ovulation schedules. Check out for more detailed information.
Furthermore, did you know that both you and your baby may be sweating, too, after birth? Because of the higher number of sweat glands per square inch of skin on babies and toddlers as compared to adults, they often sweat more notably at night, disrupting their sleep with wet bedding. We offer solutions for babies, toddlers and adults. Postpartum can impact mood, night sweats and hot flashes as well.
As always, contact your doctor if you have questions about night sweats or hot flashes.
Sleep well, sleep wicked.
Are you pregnant? Have you woken up in the middle of the night to find your clothes soaked through with sweat?
Sleeping through the night is hard enough when you’re expecting, but many women find themselves at the mercy of intense sweating that only makes things worse.
This can be especially frustrating because getting a healthy night of sleep is essential for any mother and the baby she’s carrying.
You’re probably got burning questions. Why are you experiencing night sweats? What can be done about them?
What Are Night Sweats?
Nocturnal hyperhidrosis, or night sweats, refers to the overabundance of perspiration some women experience during pregnancy while they sleep.
Night sweats are not simply feeling hotter at night, or sweating more than you usually would — they mean sweating in excess.
If you’re experiencing night sweats, you’ll likely sweat through your clothing. Most pregnant women with nocturnal hyperhidrosis find they can’t sleep through the night because their bedding becomes soaked.
Other symptoms are also commonly linked with night sweats:
What Causes Pregnancy Night Sweats?
Night sweats are a physical and neurological phenomenon — let us explain. Your brain controls your body temperature. When your body becomes too hot, a part of your brain called the hypothalamus goes to work, causing your body to produce sweat. As sweat evaporates on the skin, you cool down.
It’s not that you’re superheated when you’re pregnant — so what’s causing the hypothalamus to turn up your body’s air conditioning?
During pregnancy, your hormones change at a rapid pace. When your estrogen drops, the hypothalamus believes you’re too hot and sends signals to your body to start sweating (1). Because the hypothalamus also controls sleep, the sweating generally occurs at night.
The Trimesters And Night Sweats
When are you most likely to experience night sweats? According to the general ebb and flow of hormones, you have a higher chance of experiencing night sweats during your first and third trimesters. This is when your body will experience the most hormonal fluctuations (2).
Your second trimester should be smooth sailing, and most women find their hormones start to return to their normal levels approximately a month after giving birth.
However, every woman is different and your experience with night sweats may be unique. You should always talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns.
Other Causes for Night Sweats
During pregnancy, nights sweats are fairly common and not an indicator of any serious illness. In fact, you may experience night sweats in the early postpartum period. It’s one of the ways that your body gets rid of the extra fluid you carried during pregnancy from your increased blood supply.
However, if you are experiencing night sweats and you are not pregnant, or it has been a significant amount of time since you have given birth, talk with your doctor.
Night sweats have been linked to certain disorders, medications, and even cancer. Your doctor can ensure your night sweats are not being caused by something more serious.
It is also important to note that many women will also get night sweats during menopause as their estrogen levels drop.
5 Ways To Treat Night Sweats
As you ride the hormonal roller coaster known as pregnancy, you’ve probably realized that controlling your hormones is impossible. Unfortunately, this means completely avoiding night sweats is also impossible.
However, there are things you can do to minimize the chances of night sweats happening to you, and make excessive sweating bearable.
Here are five things to keep in mind if you are suffering from night sweats:
1. Evaluate Your Environment
First and foremost, keep your environment cool. Run the air conditioner at night or invest in some extra fans.
Then, take a look at your bedding. Are there lots of blankets? Remove as many extra sheets as you can. Make sure your bedding is made of light, breathable fabric such as cotton. Avoid synthetic fabrics and comforters with heavy batting.
2. Evaluate Your Diet
Spicy, acidic foods do not just feel hot on your tongue. They can trigger a higher body temperature and night sweats.
Do your best to avoid (3):
- Caffeinated drinks.
- Spicy foods.
- Foods high in fat.
- Foods high in sugar.
You also want to avoid eating or drinking approximately two to three hours before you go to bed.
Staying hydrated is another important part of self-care pay attention to. Make sure you are getting in those eight glasses of water a day, especially if the weather is hot!
3. Evaluate Your Clothes
What do you wear to bed? Most pregnant women experiencing night sweats should keep their layers to a minimum and stick to light, natural fabrics.
Another option? Try athletic wear. While synthetic fabrics are normally a big no-no, many pieces of athletic wear have been designed to wick away moisture from the body. Just make sure they are not too tight and restrictive.
4. Evaluate Your Weight
Some weight gain can contribute to rising body temperatures. Discuss with your doctor what a healthy pregnancy weight looks like for you. Exercise when possible, but avoid doing so right before bed or during the hottest parts of the day.
Stay cool in the pool
Visit your local gym or community center and try laps or an aquatic aerobics class. The water will help keep your joints safe as you carry your baby weight and cool you down!
5. Evaluate Your Emotions
There’s a reason intense emotions such as anger are described as making you “hot-headed.” They can actually raise your body temperature. Try to reduce stress and anxiety in your life — this can help relief of night sweats and improve your overall health.
We suggest you create a bedtime routine designed to calm you down. Every night, try to put down the phone or other electronic devices at least thirty minutes before bed.
Some things you can try to produce a calmer mental state before sleeping include:
- Reading a book or magazine.
- Talking with a partner.
- Gentle yoga poses.
How To Go Back to Sleep After Night Sweats
What should you do when you wake up in the middle of the night, soaked in sweat?
These few tips will help you get back to sleep with ease.
1. Be Prepared
Keep a few essentials nearby to avoid fumbling in the wee hours of the morning. These items might include a change of clothes, a bottle of water, a small fan, and a towel. When you wake up, wipe yourself off and drink some water.
2. Make A Change
It’s not always easy to change the sheets and bedding at night. If you don’t have time or energy, lay a large, comfortable towel over the bed to sleep on. Then, place a new sheet or lightweight blanket on top of you. You can handle the sheets in the morning!
The most important thing to do is relax so you can get back to sleep. You may feel embarrassed, frustrated, and exhausted, but this isn’t your fault, and it’s perfectly natural.
Take some of the stress away by setting up a “falling back asleep” routine. Listen to soothing sounds, sip on some water, or take deep breaths.
You may want to listen to positive birth mantras to help you fall asleep. These mantras will help you maintain a positive attitude, and by training your brain to relax to it, these same tracks will soothe you in labor!
Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM
What To Buy For Night Sweats
If you experience night sweats frequently during pregnancy, there are a wide variety of products on the market to help reduce or alleviate some of the symptoms.
They’re only a Google or Amazon search away.
1. Cooling Pillow Mats
Slip one of these underneath your pillow to help easily disperse body heat. Some cooling mats also double as ice or heating packs.
2. Moisture-Wicking Sheets
Much like athletic gear, moisture-wicking sheets are designed to draw sweat away from the body, keeping your skin dry.
3. Bed Cooling Systems
Although on the more expensive side when it comes to night sweat solutions, a bed cooling system is a great idea if you have a partner who needs their side warm while you stay cool.
This is because some models have features that allow to you regulate both sides of the bed to different temperatures.
Surviving Night Sweats
With a little bit of know-how and preparation, you can survive night sweats. Even though it may be uncomfortable, excessive sweating is a natural part of pregnancy for many women.
If you’re concerned for any reason, do not hesitate to talk with your doctor or midwife.
Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto
While miscarriage isn’t uncommon — about 10 percent of clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — the details of a miscarriage can vary widely. Some women miscarry before even knowing they’re pregnant, some women wake up bleeding, some women go into a sonogram without a clue anything might be wrong. Below, seven women discuss the end of a pregnancy.
My understanding is that the chance of miscarriage drops significantly after you hear the baby’s heartbeat. In my case, it didn’t matter — I’d heard the heartbeat just a few days before. I was seven weeks, four days pregnant.
I bled heavily and consistently for the next two weeks, then went in to make sure everything had cleared. It had not. This is what’s called a “missed abortion,” when the embryo dies but does not clear; there’s also a “spontaneous abortion” when the embryo clears, or an “incomplete abortion” when only part of it does. At that point, my doctor suggested a D&C, which is also known as an abortion. One thing I learned is that everything is called an abortion.
I’d had a D&C before — it is not fun. It’s painful and violent. I remember once listening to a male politician talk about how women should be punished for having an abortion. I think what people don’t understand is that the punishment for having an abortion is the abortion. I did the D&C the day before my birthday, a little more than two weeks after I’d started cramping. I was a wreck for a while. As it had before, the procedure left me with what I can only characterize as a biological loneliness. It’s a unique and very bad feeling and takes some time to process.
Another thing I learned is that most OBs will not run any diagnostic tests on a woman until after she’s had two or sometimes three consecutive miscarriages. This is because the majority of women who miscarry once will go on to have a healthy baby. But that means that those who miscarry because there is a problem have to suffer through the loss multiple times. This seems cruel to me. When I learned about it, my first thought was, Where are the Pro-Lifers when you need them?
After a D&C it can take six to ten weeks to get your period again. Once you do, you can start trying for another pregnancy. We waited and when we could, we tried again. I am now a little over nine weeks pregnant and everything seems to be going well. Regardless, every cramp or twinge of pain is a mild panic attack. Every feeling of discharge sends me running to the bathroom to check for blood. It’s hard to trust your body after a miscarriage, and it’s hard to trust the baby. Each day that passes, though, it gets a little better. I think once I’m out of the first trimester, I’ll allow myself to get excited. Until then, fingers crossed.
I was ten weeks pregnant when I found out it was a blighted ovum, where the embryo never forms inside the gestational sac. But the doctor didn’t want to make any decisions based on one ultrasound, so she had me come back a week later for a follow-up. It was a really long, shitty week. I felt like I was waiting for my insides to explode.
Once the blighted ovum was confirmed, I arranged to take a day off work to have the surgical procedure, a uterine aspiration. I did inform my boss, who was sympathetic (she’s a mother herself and directs the nursery school center where I work). I’m grateful to work in a place where these kinds of events are viewed as normal.
Afterward, I struggled with my own isolation. It’s a cold hard whiplash, and it can mess with you. It’s hard to explain that to anyone who’s not experienced it.
We were at one of my best friend’s destination weddings when my husband and I found out I was pregnant. We’d only been trying for two months — I’d brought a pregnancy test with me on the trip just in case and decided to take it the morning of the rehearsal. After it came out positive, my husband and I were so excited. We walked around town and found a cute onesie with the name of the island on it, thinking it would be a fun reminder of where we were when we found out we were going to have a baby.
I was at my very first doctor’s appointment, at eight weeks, when I found out something might be wrong. During the ultrasound, she could see a yolk sack but nothing in it. She said it was either too early to see anything and we were fine, or it had stopped developing. She said the only thing to do was to wait another two weeks and then have another ultrasound.
Those two weeks crawled by. I couldn’t exercise, which was hard — that’s normally how I relieve my anxiety. Basically, I spent two weeks on the couch, eating takeout and watching Netflix every night after work. I gained almost ten pounds.
We did the second ultrasound at 11 weeks. I knew something was wrong when the ultrasound tech said she was going to go get the doctor on call. He came in and told us there had been no development and I was having a “missed miscarriage.” Basically, you’ve miscarried but your body doesn’t recognize it yet so it doesn’t release anything. (You can also continue to get pregnancy symptoms for weeks afterward, which was happening to me.) The minute the doctor left the room I lost it. I hugged my husband and sobbed. Walking out of that room was so uncomfortable. Everyone was trying not to look at us, but well aware of the news we just got.
I saw my OB shortly after and she said I could have a D&C right away or wait a week to see if my body released it on its own. A D&C (dilation and curettage) is a surgical procedure where they open your cervix and remove any unwanted tissue. It’s an outpatient surgery and considered minor but they do put you under.
I was really hoping it would happen naturally. My doctor didn’t want me to wait any longer than a week because there’s a risk of infection. Unfortunately, nothing happened.
I had to take a day off of work for the procedure. My doctor also didn’t want me to travel for at least a week afterward, just to make sure no infection developed. I had a work trip planned the following week, so I had to tell my boss what was happening and why I couldn’t travel. I also had to tell my client. Both conversations were very uncomfortable. I tried not to get emotional, but I couldn’t help it.
The actual D&C was pretty painless. My husband and sister-in-law came with me, the doctors put me under for less than an hour, and when I woke up it was over. I bled for about a week after and then I was fine.
In hindsight, what I experienced was incredibly trivial compared to fertility issues other women experience. But at the time, I felt very alone and ashamed. In my head, I was imagining the worst — that this was going to be the beginning of a long struggle to conceive and maybe it would never happen.
Fast-forward to today: My son is about to turn 1. I’m also newly pregnant with our second baby. This second one was an oops, but I will not take that for granted. We are extremely lucky to be able to have children. I will always remember that.
I miscarried at about 8 weeks along. Honestly, I was 19, a college student, and I wasn’t even sure if I would keep it. My boyfriend and I had just gone long-distance, so I hadn’t even told him yet.
I woke up in the middle of the night, feeling like I’d wet the bed. But when I got up, there was blood everywhere. I immediately panicked and called a friend for a ride to the hospital. By the time they were able to see me in the emergency room, several hours had passed, and there was nothing the doctors could do except give me painkillers to ease the cramps.
I took time off work, but I told my male bosses it was for a family emergency. At the time, I was working three jobs. When I told my female employers I’d miscarried, they were all extremely understanding. One of them even gave me a book on handling miscarriages — I learned she had miscarried two years prior. We really bonded, and I leaned on her through some of my darkest times. I never thought I would be so grateful for my employer, but she was absolutely incredible to me, both on and off the clock.
Miscarrying was terrifying, but it also felt like a huge pressure had been taken off my shoulders because the decision was no longer in my hands. It felt like the universe’s way of saying, “You’re not ready to be a mother yet.” I had a lot of guilt for feeling that way too — I wasn’t sure about motherhood, but I was acting like a pregnant woman, taking prenatal vitamins and not eating certain foods.
This was almost three years ago, and it wasn’t until the past four months that I started telling people. Right after it happened, I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone — I was afraid my friends and family would think I was lying to cover up getting an abortion, which is extremely taboo in my hometown. I never told my boyfriend; eventually, I decided to break up with him because I felt like something was broken in our relationship. I was only able to realize this as a result of being afraid to tell him I had been pregnant in the first place.
I haven’t been pregnant since then, nor do I plan on becoming pregnant in the near future. I just wish women talked about this more, because when it happened to me, I felt absolutely alone, like my body had turned against me. I’ve since learned that most of my friends have had miscarriages too.
My husband and I were thrilled when we got pregnant on our first try last fall — with twins! But the news wasn’t uncomplicated: I found out I was carrying twins during an ultrasound when I was about nine weeks along. One of the babies was much smaller than the other. The doctor told me that there were a couple of possible scenarios: Best case, the tiny one would catch up and I’d have twins. It was also possible the tiny one could be reabsorbed, which is apparently fairly common early on, and the other one would be fine. Worst case, the tiny one would drain resources from the larger one and they would both die. I had to come back in ten days for another ultrasound to check on their progress.
When I went back, the minute the ultrasound pictures were up on the screen, I knew my babies were dead. We couldn’t see any heartbeats and they didn’t look any larger than when I was there before. It happened to be just two days before my birthday — happy birthday to me. The doctor told us our options: a D&C, medication to induce the miscarriage, or wait for nature to do it’s thing. We decide to just let nature take its course.
What the doctor did not really explain well was how long I might have to wait and what having a miscarriage would actually be like, physically. I had no idea what to expect, other than that it would be like a heavy period. Two weeks passed without anything happening. On Halloween night, my husband and I carved pumpkins, watched scary movies, and ate candy. Just as the movie ended, I started having cramps that felt like my period. I went to the bathroom and realized my miscarriage was happening. And it was by far the bloodiest, scariest Halloween I have ever had.
The amount of blood and tissue that comes out of you during a miscarriage is no joke — I didn’t understand that it wouldn’t just be one big gush. I was basically chained to the toilet for the next eight hours, frantically Googling what was normal and what was not. The only pads I had in the apartment were ones I had just bought for my middle-school students, the slim kind for teens. My husband had to run out and buy me overnight pads once I bled all over our bed and ran through the teen ones (which I fashioned into a kind of diaper to line the entirety of my underwear). Eventually, I could time when the next big gush would come, so I could get some sleep — still, I ended up sleeping on the bathroom floor for a few hours. I called in sick to work that next day, as did my husband (who was supposed to go to Chicago for a business trip). He took great care of me. We just slept all day and cried.
The strangest thing about miscarrying was the way people reacted when I talked about it. There were people like my sisters, or my best friend, who were so supportive even though they had never been through a miscarriage and didn’t really know what to say. They let me just talk and didn’t really ask questions or offer advice, which was what I needed. I talked about it with a few co-workers in a very straightforward way and found out that two of them had experienced miscarriages too — and talking to them made me feel so much less alone and scared. But there were some people, friends I’ve had for years, who really just could not handle it at all. They would immediately turn white and change the subject. That was really hard to manage — feeling so pushed away from a friend when I was trying to show that I really needed to talk about it. And there was no telling who would react in which manner, so I kept my news pretty tight to the chest and only told a handful of people. I never told my parents or my husband’s parents, which made the holidays pretty awkward — I was still pretty emotional and kept retreating to a bedroom. Over Thanksgiving weekend I cried uncontrollably at a museum with my mother-in-law. I have no idea how my husband explained that one.
Once I recovered physically, which took about five weeks, we started trying again and luckily, got pregnant again very quickly. I took my next positive pregnancy test exactly three months after I found out my pregnancy was over. This time around, I’ve had a very uncomplicated pregnancy — and am having a baby boy sometime in the next two weeks.
Now that my baby boy is almost here, I often think about the twins who I could have had. I talk to him about them. I miss them. The thing is, even though I was just a few weeks along when they died, I still think of them as my babies. They don’t have names and I don’t know if they were boys or girls, but they were mine and I love them.
I miscarried twice, both within the first trimester. The first time I miscarried, it was discovered during our first appointment, when there was no heartbeat detected. I hadn’t told any of my family that I was pregnant — we had hoped to surprise them with the good news in person. We wound up telling them during a phone call from the hospital, where we had gone for a D&C procedure. The second time, I did tell people I was pregnant.
The first miscarriage was disappointing, but we figured it was part of the process of becoming pregnant in your late 30s. The second time we had already heard a heartbeat, so we thought we were in the clear … we were blindsided when we went for an ultrasound and there was no longer a heartbeat. That was pretty devastating. We felt a little unlucky to have lost one pregnancy, but hadn’t expected to lose a second — and we thought the risk was very low after hearing a healthy heartbeat. I can’t remember the last time I sobbed so hard.
My husband and I were both completely traumatized after that ultrasound — I didn’t want to get near that doctor’s office ever again. I can still remember the look on the doctor’s face when she told us the news.
I had D&C procedures both times. I didn’t tell anyone but my closest friends at work, and just took off the minimum days to physically recover — I scheduled the procedure for end of the work week so I’d have the weekend to rest.
For the most part, I hadn’t told people I was pregnant in the first place, so I didn’t tell them I had miscarried. Being in my late 30s, I didn’t want to assume that we were able to have a healthy pregnancy, so I didn’t tell people we were trying to have a kid — I didn’t want my life story to become “the person who wanted a child but couldn’t ever have one.” I wanted to feel happy with my life whether or not I had kids, and I wanted to have people see me as happy with my child-free life rather than feel pity. As part of the pregnancy and healing process, my husband and I always talked about “what-ifs” — if we don’t have kids, how will we spend the next part of our lives? What will our next adventure be if it’s not parenthood? We started to come up with ideas for traveling and living abroad, animal rescue, developing more of our hobbies.
We decided that after two miscarriages, we were were up for one more try with pregnancy, and that we’d probably let it go if it didn’t work on round three. I was incredibly anxious throughout the pregnancy. I didn’t spread the news to people beyond my close friends and family until around 20 weeks — I wanted to be as sure as possible that things were proceeding okay. I wound up seeing a doctor who specialized in fertility for the first trimester, with the hopes that she’d help get the pregnancy started off well. She had me taking blood thinner shots daily, so my stomach was a constant black-and-blue mess, and I was on a prescription prenatal vitamin. It felt like magic when things worked out.
Every week that went by I felt a little more confident and comfortable with the pregnancy, but honestly, until I held the baby in my arms, it still always felt unreal, like it could be taken away from me at any moment. The pregnancy produced so much anxiety for me that even those first few difficult weeks of parenthood felt like a (relative) breeze. What’s the opposite of postpartum depression … ? Despite recovering from a C-section, I felt so elated, so grateful for having the baby I didn’t know I’d ever have.
My first miscarriage felt like a medical occurrence. I was four months pregnant when I started having cramps. In the middle of the night, I went to the bathroom and gelatinous mass slid out from me. The pain bent me double, and then was gone. I fell sideways on to the floor, vomited, and then passed out. When I woke up, still in a state of shock, I flushed the toilet. I called my husband to take me to the hospital. It felt as if there had never been a baby, as if someone had played a cruel hoax.
But the second miscarriage was different. That time I was almost five months pregnant. My pain did not feel like cramps: It felt like contractions. I went into the hospital with blood running down my legs. The doctor reached up inside me, pulling and twisting. The pain I felt from his hands was incredible. Not once did he touch my arm, look me in the eyes, or tell me he was sorry. Finally, he backed away, pulling off his rubber gloves. The head was still inside me, but the body was dangling between my legs. “I’m going to have to stop pulling on the fetus,” he said. “Or I may sever the head from the body.” He increased my dosage of Pitocin and told me we would have to wait for my body “to do its work.” Then he left me there on the table.
I lay there, listening to the moans of another woman in labor next door. My husband put his arm around me, stroked my hair. He would tell me later that he had stood by helplessly. The whole thing had felt wrong, but he didn’t know what to do. In the months following, when I stopped being able to eat or sleep, he would ask me if he had failed to protect me that day. But he hadn’t failed me. It was just that the miscarriage had broke me open.
Am I Having a Miscarriage? What It May Feel Like
Most miscarriages occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy and are unavoidable. While this is heartbreaking, it’s important to know that this means there was likely nothing that you or your partner did to cause it.
The most common cause of miscarriage during this time is a chromosomal abnormality in the DNA. Other, more rare reasons for a first trimester miscarriage include:
- hormonal factors
- maternal health
- exposure to toxic substances
- failure of the egg to properly implant into the uterine lining
Age can also play a role in miscarriage. In one 2019 study, researchers looking at 421,201 pregnancies found that women who were 25 to 29 years old had a 10 percent risk of miscarriage while women who were 45 and older had a 53 percent risk. This could be because egg quality decreases as we age, making chromosomal abnormalities more likely.
If you’re having a miscarriage during the first trimester, you may feel:
- Back pain. The extent of this can differ greatly from woman to woman, but it’s often worse than normal monthly menstrual cramping.
- A white-pink mucus coming from the vagina.
- Pelvic contractions. We can’t say this enough, though: As with everything else, the extent of this can differ greatly from woman to woman. Some women report experiencing labor level contractions every 5 to 20 minutes while others don’t report having contractions at all during their miscarriage.
- Brown or bright red bleeding with or without cramps. But some bleeding — especially light — isn’t too uncommon in normal pregnancies. In one study, only 12 percent of women with first trimester bleeding experienced a miscarriage.
- A sudden decrease in signs of pregnancy like nausea or breast pain. But keep in mind that these symptoms — particularly nausea — typically decrease in the second trimester of a perfectly normal pregnancy.
- Diarrhea and abdominal pain.
It’s also possible to feel nothing unusual. A chemical pregnancy occurs when a pregnancy is lost so early on that bleeding occurs around the time of your expected period. Many women don’t realize that they’ve conceived in these cases and won’t recognize that they’re miscarrying.
And finally, your physical symptoms might be delayed in the case of a missed miscarriage. This is when the fetal heartbeat stops without your knowledge, but you don’t physically miscarry.
A missed miscarriage — also called a silent miscarriage or medically termed a “missed abortion” — is usually detected on a routine follow-up ultrasound after your pregnancy has been confirmed. Sometimes, growth measurements may even indicate that the fetal heartbeat stopped weeks earlier — for example, if you’re 11 weeks pregnant but the fetal age is measured as 7 weeks.
Physical feelings and recovery from a missed miscarriage depend on whether you have a D and C or are given medication to induce a miscarriage. To learn what happens after a missed miscarriage, take a look at this article.
It’s a sobering fact: Every time you get pregnant, there’s a chance of miscarriage. For every 100 women who know they are expecting, 10 to 15 will lose the baby before the 20th week of pregnancy, the March of Dimes estimates.
“It’s so common,” Dr. Daniela Carusi, director of general gynecology and surgical obstetrics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told TODAY.
“We wish that people would just talk openly about it because they’d realize so many other people have been through this, too.”
Doctors also want women to know there’s an excellent chance of having a healthy, uncomplicated full-term pregnancy the next time around.
“This is like a speed bump,” said Dr. Iffath Hoskins, a clinical associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center.
“For the average patient, you can walk away and go back to as normal a life as you possibly could in your fertility expectations.”
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Here are expert answers to your miscarriage questions:
What are the different miscarriage symptoms and signs?
Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester.
The first sign is usually vaginal bleeding or cramps that feel a lot like strong menstrual cramps, Carusi said. But most women who have bleeding in the first trimester don’t have a miscarriage so it doesn’t necessarily mean you are losing the baby, she added.
Sometimes, women have no symptoms at all and only realize something is wrong when the doctor doesn’t find the baby’s heartbeat during a check-up, Hoskins noted. Other symptoms can include lower back pain or abdominal pain, she said.
Related: 5 things you should never say to a woman who’s had a miscarriage
When should I contact my doctor?
“If you feel something different in your pregnancy… or anything that just doesn’t make sense — it shouldn’t be happening — the best thing to do is to contact your provider,” Hoskins said.
You don’t need to rush to a clinic, but get in touch with your doctor and see if the issue is something you can watch at home, or need to come in and be evaluated, she advised.
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How long does a miscarriage last?
It depends on the patient. Passing the placenta and the sac can take an hour or a few hours. That’s when a woman is going to feel the strongest cramps and have the most bleeding.
A woman can either pass the pregnancy tissue on her own, or doctors can help remove it with a procedure called dilation and curettage, Hoskins said.
How long do you bleed after a miscarriage?
Bleeding is natural and normal for up to two weeks after a miscarriage and should taper off over that time, both doctors said.
When will I get my period again?
In general, expect a period within about six weeks, Carusi said. Let your doctor know if it doesn’t come back within that time frame.
Related: Women applaud Facebook founder’s call to be more open about miscarriages
What causes a miscarriage?
Most miscarriages happen when chromosome mistakes in the egg or sperm make it impossible for the baby to develop, the National Institutes of Health says. Too many or too few chromosomes — which carry our genes — will result in an abnormal pregnancy.
“It’s Mother Nature’s way of saying, ‘This one didn’t start off right,’” Hoskins noted.
The other most common answer to the “why” question is that doctors just don’t know.
“I do tell patients it’s almost certainly not anything that she did,” Carusi said. “So many things have to go exactly right for a pregnancy to implant and grow and unfortunately, things go wrong along the way.”
The big point to remember: It’s not the mother’s fault. It’s not what she ate or drank, both doctors said. The risk of miscarriage rises with age and is greatest for women who become pregnant after 40.
Is getting pregnant after a miscarriage possible?
Yes, most women will go on to have a healthy, full-term pregnancy, both doctors emphasized.
If you miscarried the first time you became pregnant or after already having a child, your chances of having a normal pregnancy the next time around are 90 percent or higher, Hoskins said.
“Women often tend to feel like there’s something wrong with them and they can’t carry a baby, but that’s definitely not true,” Carusi said.
If you have had several miscarriages, the chances are still 85 percent or higher that you’ll have a baby the next time, Hoskins noted.
How soon after a miscarriage can you get pregnant?
The traditional advice is to wait three months before trying to conceive after a miscarriage, both doctors said. But a recent study found there’s no physiological reason to wait.
Carusi tells patients to wait until they’ve had at least one natural menstrual cycle so she knows their hormones have gone back to normal. She also advises them to hold off until they feel psychologically ready.
Study: Conceive sooner after miscarriage to reduce complications
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How can I support my partner?
A woman who has had a miscarriage may worry her spouse will feel that she’s not going to be an “effective child bearer,” so partners need to be reassuring, Carusi said.
“ that it was an accident of nature,” she advised. “Express faith in her that she’s healthy and she’s going to have a healthy baby.”
Recognize that if you’ve had a miscarriage, you may be OK at first, but fall apart emotionally a week later, Hoskins noted. Reach out to a doctor for help whenever you need it.
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