20th December, 202111 min read

Pregnancy after miscarriage

Medical reviewer:Dr Ann Nainan
Author:Libby Williams
Last reviewed: 10/12/2021
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The loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks is called a miscarriage. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, so there are millions of women and their partners going through this emotional and phyiscal rollercoaster every year across the globe. If you’re one of them, you’re not alone.

Miscarriage is very common, and it is possible to become pregnant again in the future.

Bryony, 30, shares her experience of having a silent miscarriage at 12 weeks and falling pregnant again just a few months later.

I've always had in my head that I wanted children at 30. So when me and my partner Lewis first met around 8 and a half years ago it was one of the first conversations we had.

Last summer, we had a chat and we decided I should come off the pill. I wasn't tracking my cycle or my ovulation or anything like that. Then we found out in January that we were pregnant! I thought it would take longer so it was a nice surprise – we were very lucky that it just happened.

'It was a shock to find out I’d miscarried at 12 weeks without symptoms'

We didn’t find out until our 12-week scan. I was aware that miscarriage is common so all along we were very cautious about not getting too excited, just in case. But as the weeks went on, and I didn't have any cramping or bleeding, it felt like it was a done deal.

When we went for our 12-week dating scan we were told the baby hadn't developed and was only measuring at 6 weeks. But my body hadn't recognised that anything was wrong. For me, that was the biggest shock because I didn't even know that was a possibility – it’s what they call a missed miscarriage or a silent miscarriage.

'There was no medical reason for my silent miscarriage'

We didn't get any medical reason as to why it was a silent miscarriage and why my body didn't recognise what was happening. We got some support – after the scan we were handed a couple of leaflets and told about support groups we could go to. But you don't get any medical investigation unless you've had 3 miscarriages or you've been trying for over a year.

'The emotional side didn't properly hit me for a couple of weeks'

I was just in shock. The sonographer started and we were looking at the screen, not really knowing what we were looking at – you expect to see the shape of a baby but that wasn't what was coming up. She searched for a little bit trying to find a heartbeat and there just wasn't one. At that stage she didn't say what had happened, she just said we could have our dates wrong, or it could just be the scan. We were booked in for another scan the following week to check for any growth, and if there wasn’t any, then we’d cross that bridge when we came to it.

We came home knowing we had our dates right. So we started to do a bit of research and that's when we worked out I’d had a silent miscarriage. We tried to convince ourselves that it was wrong, that we might have got our dates wrong, but we did the maths and realised it just wasn’t possible.

I went back for a scan the following week. It was the same, there was no heartbeat, there was no growth. I went back the next day for a surgical miscarriage which was a procedure to get my body to do something.

They warned me about bleeding and cramping, and I only had physical symptoms for a couple of days. It all happened so fast that the emotional side didn't really hit me for a couple of weeks – I suddenly realised that the year we'd planned wasn’t going to happen and what that meant going forward.

'How did the miscarriage affect your partner?'

I think it really affected Lewis. Some days I could tell he was quiet or distracted, trying to keep himself busy but he always stayed positive for the future and we agreed to try again once I had recovered. We made a point of being very open about the miscarriage with friends and family, which helped open up the conversation. So we both had an amazing support system and we got lots of advice from people who’ve been through miscarriage as a couple, on how to navigate things and get through it together.

I think so often you can take your sadness and grief out on each other so it’s important to keep talking. Communicating how we both felt was quite difficult, especially when you know it won’t change anything, it won’t take back what had happened. Most days we would just turn to each other and say “it’s just so rubbish” because there were no other words to describe it. We found support through social media, not just from our friends but from complete strangers too. Instagram quickly picks up on your algorithm so I started to see fertility pages and miscarriage support. It was comforting to know we weren’t alone.

Woman scrolling on phone

'There weren't any medical barriers to trying again after my miscarriage'

I was recommended to wait until my cycle returned so it would be safe to have another pregnancy. The general message, though, was that whenever we felt emotionally and physically ready we could start to try again.

'We knew we could get pregnant - and this time we felt emotionally prepared'

We were very guarded throughout the first pregnancy, knowing not to open ourselves up to it until we heard a heartbeat. So next time round I think we were in a good place to be emotionally prepared, and the focus really was just to move forward and try to see the positive. You don't want people to say it to you, but it's good to say it to yourself – we knew we could get pregnant. We were confident that one day we’d have children – whatever that looked like or however it came about, we'd just have to navigate as we went along.

'I was surprised by the unspoken pressure - and I was testing, testing, testing'

It was a very different experience this time, there was definitely a sense of urgency. It was difficult because we didn't want to ‘try’, but it felt like there was an unspoken pressure on both of us.

I started to do loads of research and ended up learning all sorts about my body. I didn't quite twig that because I was on the pill for so long I’d forgotten what my cycle was like, and my periods were actually very irregular. I did eventually get to the point where I was using regular ovulation tests, purely to try and work out what my cycle was.

Then every month there was a 2-week wait to see if I was pregnant or not. I was symptom checking, taking pregnancy tests 4 days before my missed period, all of the usual stuff.

With all the regular testing, I found out very early on that we were pregnant again. That was great but at the same time it made the first trimester feel like a lifetime. But at least we knew, and then I could focus on being as healthy as possible – eating well and not drinking, that kind of thing.

Every month between the miscarriage and getting pregnant again was a battle. But I know a lot of people have a much longer and harder journey than we've had so far.

Pregnancy test

'We had 2 private scans before our NHS scan for peace of mind'

We're just over 26 weeks now, so we're halfway. It's weird to think back to the first trimester where I was very apprehensive and anxious. I feel much better now.

We went for 2 private scans before our NHS dating scan, just for peace of mind. We made sure we were booked in as soon as we could to see if there was a heartbeat, so we didn't have to repeat the experience we had the first time around.

'We told everyone as soon as we knew - so support was there if we miscarried again'

With regards to announcing, it was the opposite of the first pregnancy. First time around we only told our immediate family. In our heads we thought we’d get this infamous ‘safe’ 12-week mark, and then we’d make a big announcement to share the good news with our friends and family. Obviously, it didn't turn out as we’d planned. With this one we felt we needed that support system in case anything was to go wrong so we told everyone! Once we’d heard a heartbeat, we felt we were one step further than we were last time. Every time we go for a scan or an appointment, it feels like a step in the right direction.

'I'm sharing my miscarriage story because I want people to know how common it is and feel supported'

Lots of family and friends have been affected by miscarriage, and when we had ours it all started to come out with them saying ‘Oh, we had one too’. I think if it was any other loss it wouldn't be a secret – if a member of your family died you’d share it, you’d need a support system. And yet everyone I talked to was saying that miscarriage needs to be spoken about more.

So when it happened to me I thought I didn't want to have that conversation with everyone individually, and tell everyone why we were sad or why I was in a bad mood. And I didn't want to have to hide it and pretend that it didn't happen. I think that would have been more damaging than anything else – to try and put on a brave face and pretend it didn't happen.

Being so open about it is how Lewis got a lot of his support too – you build a little community. It helps to speak to anyone, but especially if they’ve been through something similar. Also, you know a lot of people who go on to have happy, healthy children after a miscarriage, but you just assume it’s an easy journey from the start. Whereas there’s actually a lot that goes on in the background in people's private lives.

'I think couples getting pregnant after miscarriage should be offered scans earlier on to ease anxiety'

I don't feel like we got any emotional support really. I was told to go back to hospital if I had any physical negative side effects and the staff on the day were amazing, but afterwards you’re just sort of left to your own devices.

What I really struggled with when trying to get pregnant again, and then falling pregnant again, was the lack of scans and appointments. We’re very fortunate that we could afford to pay for a private scan, but there's lots of people that might not be in a position to do that. Then you have to wait the full 12 weeks for your NHS dating scan, to be told either good news or bad news.

From an anxiety and reassurance point of view I think there should be an early scan for everyone, whether you've had a miscarriage or not, but especially if you've had a miscarriage. Having early contact with a midwife or antenatal team just to answer your queries would be so helpful too.

'The best advice I can give someone who's had a miscarriage is...'

The best advice I can give is just to look after yourself. Learn about your body, figure out your cycle and try to get yourself in as good a place as you possibly can mentally and physically.

If you can afford to, go for private scans if and when you conceive again. It will help give you peace of mind and help reduce any stress you have. It definitely helped us anyway.

Speak to a doctor if you have had a miscarriage and need further support.

For additional information and support visit The Miscrriage Association website.

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