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Pregnancy loss is one of the hardest things a woman can go through in her life. When you are trying to get pregnant and finally see those two pink lines, the thought of losing that dear baby rarely crosses your mind. When the pregnancy is lost, you will find yourself in a plethora of emotions that can range from depression to anger to sadness.
You can find yourself in a place where you want to be pregnant again immediately, or want to take a long break before trying again. Depending on the type of loss and how far along you were when you lost the baby, your doctor will help you understand how long it will take to physically heal. The mental healing can vary from woman to woman.
Trying Again After Loss
The thought of trying for another baby after losing one or more can be exhilarating and scary. There is the fear that you will have more losses and not get your baby that you want so badly. There is the grief for each child lost as they were an individual and you cannot replace a lost child with a new one. There is the realization that you will get and stay pregnant this time and feel even more pain wondering what if. No matter where your heart lies on this matter, your body has to heal first and foremost.
There are several theories about how long a woman should wait between losses and what she should do in the mean time to up her chances of success the next time around. Doctors can seem a bit cold when you are losing a pregnancy for the first time. It is very true that early pregnancy loss is quite common and normal in most circumstances. It does not mean you have feel good about that. Most early losses are due to chromosomal disorders that make it impossible for a fetus to ever develop in the first place. Most women will be lucky to even see a positive test before the loss begins. There are those that go further in a pregnancy to lose it. Even the majority of those are a metabolic error that the mother never could have predicted or prevented.
Types of Losses
If your loss was between the 4th and 6th week of gestation, most doctors will refer to this as a chemical pregnancy. This is when the blastocyst implants into the uterus and secretes hCG to tell the ovaries to continue to make progesterone. Shortly after implantation has occurred the developing embryo realizes it will never grow and the hCG stops production. This tells the ovary to stop making progesterone and allows for bleeding. Most women will actually start to get their menses right on time or only a few days late. There are some that will go to the 6 week mark, but never have hCG amounts over 2000 mIU/ml.
When you have a chemical pregnancy, you will be able to try again immediately. The body never really registered that it was truly pregnant. There is also an advantage as the uterine lining is a bit thicker for better implant the next time around. Many women find themselves successfully pregnant the very next cycle after a chemical.
A first trimester pregnancy loss is also known as a miscarriage. It happens from the 7th -12th week of pregnancy and is considered an early loss. This is when the embryo actually starts to develop and then stops due to some reason – usually metabolic or genetic. The most common time for an embryo to cease in development is between the 7th and 9th weeks or gestation. It is also common to not find out until the 11th or 12th weeks of pregnancy.
If you have experienced a loss during this time you may find it lasts longer than a chemical and can have varying outcomes. Many women will simply begin bleeding and that is how they come to realize that they are even losing their baby. Other women go in to their doctor or midwife and find out when they cannot hear the heartbeat later on. Either way, the body will need a recuperation time. The length will depend on if it is a natural miscarriage or a D&C – dilation and curettage.
Some women’s bodies will naturally miscarry the baby in the first trimester. Other women will need a surgical procedure called a D&C to remove the baby from the uterus. If you naturally lose the pregnancy, then your hCG will drop by itself to allow this happen. Your recovery will be easier physically as your levels will return to normal fast. If you need the D&C, your body will need an extra adjustment time. While the doctor will remove the embryo, your hCG will still be high. You will have to wait for it to drop back down for the actual loss to be complete. This can be weeks to months depending on how far along you are. Your doctor will monitor your hCG levels weekly until they drop below 5 mIU/ml – the non-pregnant amount.
If you lose your baby after the 12th week but before the 20th week of pregnancy, then it is called a later term miscarriage. You may find that your body needs a long time to adjust and get back to normal. Since the fetus is much larger and the experience is much more traumatic on many levels, this is not surprising. Any loss after the 20th week is deemed a still birth and you will most likely experience the normal birthing process and have the same types of symptoms and recover period that any post partum woman would, including lactation and post partum bleeding. Many women will find that they will be fertile again by their 6 week check up after a still born, but may not be ready physically or emotionally to get pregnant that soon.
Monitoring Your Fertility After a Loss
One of things you want to do after you lose a pregnancy, no matter how far along you were, is to monitor the onset of your fertility. Some women are advised to wait at least 3 cycles before trying. This means prevention as well as seeing if you are ovulating again. MyCycleDiary will help you to monitor what your cycle is doing during the months following your loss. You simply chart what you are experiencing during each day. Each chart is designed to allow for ultimate input and documentation. That way if something seems off, you can alert your doctor early to avoid undesired consequences.
Another way to see what is going with your body is to use the Ovatel Fertility monitor. This will allow you to check for signs of ovulation. You might notice that while you are still in the middle of your loss that you will get ferning. This is because your estrogen is still high from being pregnant. You can use the monitor to watch the ferning disappear. Once it has stopped you will know your estrogen levels have dropped. You can then monitor using Ovatel until they rise again to give ferning. This would indicate ovulation. Once you have successfully ovulated prior to the loss, then you can track your cycles again to determine, with your doctor’s advice, when it is best to try again.