If you have suffered the loss of your baby or had a miscarriage, it is important that you take the time you need to heal both physically and emotionally. Above all, make yourself and your health priority.
Your Physical Health
Here are tips how to take care of yourself physically after experiencing a loss or miscarriage.
To heal and nourish your body, eat balanced meals and drink 8 glasses of water per day. Eat foods high in calcium (dark green leafy vegetables, yogurt, milk, etc.) and foods high in fiber (bran, broccoli, fruit) to help keep your bowel movements (poop) regular.
Sleep is healing. Good sleep habits and restful sleep are key when dealing with the emotional and physical stress of delivery and/or loss. Try to allow your body plenty of rest in the first week, particularly in the first 24 hours. If you find it difficult to sleep, try taking a warm shower or stretching before bed. A regular pre-bedtime routine will help prepare your body for rest.
Gradually increase your daily activities until you are back to your normal physical routine and rest frequently. No heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling for the first 2-4 weeks. If you have had a C- Section, do not lift more than 10 pounds for the first 6 weeks. Talk with your healthcare provider before returning to work.
Maintain Proper Hygiene
To avoid infection, be sure to shower at least once a day throughout the first week. Do not take baths, swim in pools or soak in hot tubs. You will continue to bleed for 3-6 weeks and you will want to use pads, not tampons. After the first week, bleeding should lighten until it is white or pale yellow in color.
It is important to change your pad on a regular basis and keep this area clean. After using the restroom, use a peri-bottle filled with warm water to rinse your perineum (the area between the vagina and rectum). Always wipe from front to back to help prevent infection and dry thoroughly. Continue to do this until you feel like this area has healed. Your normal menstrual periods may return anywhere from 1-3 months after delivery.
Care of Cesarean Section Incision
If you have had a C-Section, you do not need to cover your incision. Try to keep this area as clean and dry as possible. To clean your incision, lightly wash with antibacterial soap, rinse with water, and gently dry with a clean towel. Do not put any lotions, perfumes, or powders around the area unless prescribed by your physician.
Your healthcare provider may advise you to wait 4-6 weeks to have intercourse or until your vaginal bleeding has stopped. Do not use tampons or douche for 4-6 weeks or until your bleeding has stopped and you have returned to your first follow up appointment with your physician for approval.
The birth of your baby stimulates hormones that tell your body to make milk. Milk becomes more abundant 3-5 days after a baby is born. Your breast may feel fuller and may leak milk. Stimulating your breast will tell your body to keep making milk and not stimulating your breast will send the message to your body to stop making milk and your supply will go away. Some mothers choose to pump their milk and donate to a milk bank. If you are interested in this option or for further questions and concerns, you may contact UAMS Lactation Services at (501) 526-3558 or call the ANGELS Call Center at (501) 526-7425.
Abdominal cramping and pain are common – especially in the first few days. Take all medicine prescribed by your healthcare provider and continue to take vitamins for up to 6 weeks after delivery. Consult with your doctor before taking any type of painkillers, although commonly prescribed are Tylenol or Advil if no interactions with other medications or allergies. Please do NOT drive while taking pain medication. If the pain increases with time, please seek medical attention. You may also use over the counter stool softeners and fiber supplements for constipation.
Monitor Your Temperature
Take your temperature in the evening for the first 5 days. If your temperature rises above 100.4°F, contact your doctor. A fever may indicate an infection in the body.
Your Emotional Health
Here are tips how to take care of yourself emotionally after experiencing a loss or miscarriage.
Talk about Your Feelings
When you’re ready, find a few people you feel safe talking with and share your feelings, talk about your baby, and express your needs: your partner, friends, family, religious or spiritual leader, your healthcare provider, your local hospital social worker, bereavement coordinator, or a professional.
Write your thoughts and feelings in a journal. This will allow you to express your feelings in your own way. You may even find it helpful to write letters, poems, or songs to your baby or about your baby.
Make an Album or Memory Box
Place items or pictures in your memory box or album that are meaningful to you and remind you of your pregnancy and baby.
Plant Flowers or a Tree in Honor of your Baby
Some find it meaningful to plant a memory garden in honor of their baby and make special stepping stones or paint special rocks to include along the path.
Wear jewelry with a special charm or birth stone. Some find it helpful to wear jewelry that display the baby being part of the family.
Join a Group
Your local hospital or community may have a support group for family members dealing with the loss of infants and pregnancy loss. A support group will allow you to openly express your feelings, share with others and receive support from those that have journeyed through similar experiences.
Select a Spokesperson
To avoid retelling the sad news, enlist the help of a trustworthy friend or family member to tell others.
Buy flowers and chocolate, see a movie, get a manicure, or whatever small activity that makes you feel a little better.
When you are up for it, start taking walks. Getting regular exercise, having a routine, and getting out of the house will increase your mood.
Memorialize the Loss
Many women and couples find comfort in small rituals – planting a tree, holding a personal memorial, lighting a candle. Anything to express the grief you feel in a personally meaningful way.
Plan a Special Memorial Service
Plan your own special memorial service to remember your baby or join your local hospital or funeral home to attend a memorial service in honor of your baby. UAMS Love Lives Program has services available for you and your family to attend in honor and remembrance of your precious little one.
Make a Donation
Donate your time, talents, or make monetary donations to a local group in memory of your baby and to support other parents who may be experiencing a similar situation.
Please call your healthcare provider or go to the Emergency Room if you experience any of the following:
- Temperature over 100.4 *F
- Heavy vaginal bleeding that is bright red and soaks a pad in an hour or less
- Large clots blood clots from the vagina—bigger than the size of an egg
- Foul smelling vaginal discharge
- Pain or difficulty urinating or urinating too frequent
- Difficulty having a bowl movement
- An incision that is painful, red, swollen, or is leaking any fluid
- Pain, redness, or warmth on the breast with or without flu-like symptoms
- Pain, redness, or warmth in the lower legs
- Trouble breathing, dizziness, or faintness
- Crying or mood swings that feel out of control
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- Thoughts of harming yourself or someone else