What happens after a miscarriage 

A miscarriage can have a profound emotional impact, not only on the woman herself, but also on her partner, friends and family.

Advice and support is available during this difficult time.

Remembrance 

It's usually possible to arrange a memorial and burial service if you want one. In some hospitals or clinics, it may be possible to arrange a burial within the grounds.

You can also arrange to have a burial at home, although you'll need to consult your local authority before doing so.

Cremation is an alternative to burial and can be performed at either the hospital or a local crematorium. However, not all crematoriums provide this service and there won't be any ashes for you to scatter afterwards.

Unlike a stillbirth, you don't need to formally register a miscarriage. However, some hospitals can provide a certificate to mark what has happened if you want one.

Emotional impact

Sometimes the emotional impact is felt immediately after the miscarriage, whereas in other cases it can take several weeks. Many people affected by a miscarriage go through a bereavement period.

It's common to feel tired, lose your appetite and have difficulty sleeping after a miscarriage. You may also feel a sense of guilt, shock, sadness and anger – sometimes at a partner, or at friends or family members who have had successful pregnancies.

Different people grieve in different ways. Some people find it comforting to talk about their feelings, while others find the subject too painful to discuss.

Some women come to terms with their grief after a few weeks of having a miscarriage and start planning for their next pregnancy. For other women, the thought of planning another pregnancy is too traumatic, at least in the short term.

The father of the baby may also be affected by the loss. Men sometimes find it harder to express their feelings, particularly if they feel their main role is to support the mother and not the other way round. It may help to make sure you openly discuss how both of you are feeling.

Miscarriage can also cause feelings of anxiety or depression, and can lead to relationship problems.

Getting support

If you're worried that you or your partner are having problems coping with grief, you may need further treatment and counselling. There are support groups that can provide or arrange counselling for people who have been affected by miscarriage.

Read more about dealing with loss and counselling, and find bereavement support services in your area.

Your GP can provide you with support and advice. The following organisations can also help:

  • The Miscarriage Association is a charity that offers support to people who have lost a baby. They have a helpline (01924 200 799, Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm) and an email address (info@miscarriageassociation.org.uk), and can put you in touch with a support volunteer.
  • Cruse Bereavement Care helps people understand their grief and cope with their loss. They have a helpline (0844 477 9400, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) and a network of local branches where you can find support.

Having sex and trying for another baby

You should avoid having sex until all of your miscarriage symptoms have gone. Your periods should return within four to six weeks of your miscarriage, although it may take several months to settle into a regular cycle.

If you don't want to get pregnant, you should use contraception immediately. If you do want to get pregnant again, you may want to discuss it with your GP or hospital care team. Make sure you are feeling physically and emotionally well before trying for another pregnancy.

The Miscarriage Association has written a leaflet called Thinking about another pregnancy (PDF, 207kb) that you may find helpful. It's important to remember that most miscarriages are a one-off and are followed by a healthy pregnancy.

Although it's not usually possible to prevent a miscarriage, there are some ways you can reduce the risk. See preventing miscarriage for more information and advice.

Finding a cause

It's natural to want to know why a miscarriage happened, but unfortunately this is not usually possible. Most miscarriages are thought to be caused by a one-off problem with the development of the foetus.

Read more about the causes of miscarriage.

Page last reviewed: 21/05/2015

Next review due: 21/05/2017