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A missed miscarriage (sometimes also called a silent or delayed miscarriage) is a type of pregnancy loss that occurs when a baby dies in the womb but you haven't experienced any of the common miscarriage symptoms such as vaginal bleeding or pain.

If you have recently been diagnosed with a silent miscarriage or have experienced this in the past, it is important to understand what it is and how to cope with the emotional impact. In this article, we will discuss what a missed miscarriage is, why it happens, how it is diagnosed and treated plus how to get help with the emotional impact.

What is a missed miscarriage and why does it happen?

A missed miscarriage is when a pregnancy has stopped developing and has died, but the woman is unaware of the loss. You may have started having pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and breast tenderness, and have not necessarily noticed that these feelings have started to reduce or stop completely. This is because the pregnancy hormone can take a while to dissipate in the bloodstream after the baby dies. Early pregnancy loss can happen any time from conception to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Missed miscarriages are more common in the first trimester of pregnancy (up to 12 weeks).

There are many reasons why a miscarriage occurs and often the reason is unknown. Some causes of miscarriage are:

  • Hormonal problems due to the placenta
  • Infection
  • Physical trauma
  • Chromosomal abnormalities in the baby
  • Lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking or using drugs increase your risk of experiencing a miscarriage

How common are missed miscarriages?

It is estimated that around one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, and of these, many are so early that the woman does not even realise she is pregnant. So a missed miscarriage in early pregnancy is not as rare as you might think.

How is a missed miscarriage diagnosed?

If you are diagnosed with a missed miscarriage, it can be an extremely distressing and upsetting time. It is important to remember that it is not your fault and that you have not done anything to cause the loss of your pregnancy.

Sadly you may only find out about your loss when you have a scan and no fetal heartbeat is found. However, in some circumstances, you may experience some bleeding or cramping.

How is a missed miscarriage treated?

If you're diagnosed with a missed miscarriage, your doctor will likely recommend one of two options: expectant management which means waiting for nature to take its course or having a minor surgical procedure called a D&C procedure to remove the fetal tissue.

If you choose to wait, it's important to be patient as the process can take several weeks. You may experience cramping and heavy bleeding during this time. It's also important to be aware of the signs of infection, which include fever, chills, and an unpleasant-smelling vaginal discharge.

If you opt for a D&C, it's important to know that this is a safe and common procedure. The risks are low and the vast majority of women who have this procedure go on to have healthy future pregnancies.

When to try for another pregnancy after a missed miscarriage?

There is no set answer to this question on when to start trying to conceive again, as it is different for everyone. Some women may feel ready to try again immediately, while others may need more time to heal both physically and emotionally. It is important to do what feels right for you.

If you are considering trying for another baby soon after a missed miscarriage, you may prefer to wait until after your next menstrual cycle. It is important to speak to your doctor first, so they can advise you on what is right for you.

How to cope after a missed miscarriage

A miscarriage is a difficult experience to go through and it is important to give yourself time to grieve. There is no one set way to grieve and it is normal to feel a range of emotions, including sadness, anger, and guilt.

There are several ways to cope with a missed miscarriage, including:

-Talk to someone who understands: Talking to friends or family who have been through a similar experience can be helpful. There are also support groups available for women who have experienced a miscarriage.

-Write about your experience: Writing about your thoughts and feelings can be therapeutic. You could start a blog, write in a journal, or even write a letter to your baby.

-Make time for yourself: Make sure to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Spend time doing things that make you happy, such as reading, watching movies, or spending time with friends and family.

If you're finding it difficult to cope with a missed miscarriage, don't hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for help. Your doctor or midwife can refer you to a counsellor, therapist or mental health professional who can offer support.

How long does it take to recover physically from a silent miscarriage?

Once the pregnancy is over you will start feeling physically better within a few weeks. It may take four to six weeks for your pregnancy hormones to settle and for your periods to return.

Am I likely to miscarry again after a missed miscarriage?

This is a question that's often asked, and unfortunately, there is no easy answer. While it is possible to miscarry again after a missed miscarriage, the chances are quite low. The risk of miscarrying again after a miscarriage is about 20%.

If you're worried about miscarrying again, there are some things you can do to help lower your risk. First, make sure you're getting enough folic acid. This nutrient is important for a healthy pregnancy, and it can help reduce the risk of miscarrying.

You should also try to manage any chronic health conditions you have, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. These conditions can increase the risk of miscarrying, so it's important to keep them under control.

Finally, try to reduce your stress levels. Stress can contribute to miscarrying, so it's important to find ways to relax and de-stress. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are all great ways to do this.

How can friends and family help someone who has experienced a missed miscarriage?

The most important thing you can do is to be there for your loved one. Listen to them, let them cry on your shoulder, and offer a shoulder to lean on when they need it. Try not to force them to talk about their experience if they don't want to; just being there for them is often enough.

If they do want to talk, be patient and understanding. This is a difficult experience for them to go through, and they may not have all the answers yet. Just being a good listener can be a huge help.

If you're not sure what to say, just tell them that you're sorry for their loss and that you're there for them. Sometimes, the simplest things can mean the most.

What NOT to do if your friend or a family member has had a missed miscarriage

Don't try to downplay their experience or tell them that it wasn't really a baby. A missed miscarriage is still a loss, and it's important to acknowledge that.

Try to avoid saying things like "it wasn't meant to be" or "everything happens for a reason." These phrases can be hurtful, even if you don't mean them to be. Instead, focus on the positive: how strong and resilient your loved one is, and how much support they have from you and other people in their life.

Don't compare their experience to other types of loss, or try to tell them that there are people who have it worse than they do. This will only make them feel invalidated and like you don't understand what they're going through.

Finally, don't try to give them advice unless they ask for it. It's important to let them process their experience in their own way and at their own pace. Trying to force them to "move on" too quickly will only make things worse.

Where to get help and support

If you've had a missed miscarriage, it's important to remember that you're not alone. Many women go through this, and there is support available. Talk to your doctor or midwife, and reach out to family and friends for support. You can also join a support group for women who have experienced miscarrying. Just knowing you're not alone can be a huge help.

There are many miscarriage support resources you can access in both the US and UK such as Resolve in the US and The Miscarriage Association in the UK.

Getting help with viO

If you have had a missed miscarriage, there is still hope for getting pregnant again. viO's OvuFirst Wearable Fertility Monitor can help to get pregnant again after a miscarriage, by detecting your ovulation date and fertile window to time sexual intercourse. We wish you all the best on your fertility journey and your future pregnancy!