Poppy lives in Japan. She recently suffered a miscarriage and hopes her experience can help others.
A mother-to-be's worst nightmare is losing their baby. According to the Mayo Clinic website, around 10-20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, though that may be higher since early losses can just be recognised as a heavy period. A large amount of miscarriages happen before the 12th week of pregnancy; because of this, the first trimester is known as the 'high risk' period.
Miscarriages can happen at home, but sometimes your doctor may detect that the fetus has died during an ultrasound. In this case, they might suggest a dilation and curettage procedure, commonly called a D&C. The doctor may worry that passing the fetus naturally will cause you to lose a lot of blood, possibly causing anaemia.
Since you are reading this article, you are likely to have suffered a miscarriage recently and may be expecting a D&C soon. Let me say that I am heartbroken for your loss. Miscarriage is a terrible experience that can be difficult for others to understand.
As well as the heartache you are likely suffering for your loss, you may also be worried about the upcoming operation. This article aims to put your mind at rest as much as possible by letting you know what to expect in the upcoming procedure.
Firstly, you should know that a D&C is a low-risk operation that doesn't take long at all. It is unlikely you'll stay in hospital for more than one day, though this may vary depending on the country you're in.
In Japan, I was asked to bring along some items and to take my own temperature before arriving at the hospital. Even if you aren't asked to bring anything, it's a good idea to pack a bag just in case. I suggest bringing:
- Some maxi pads, since you may bleed a little after the operation.
- Spare underwear.
- A face towel.
- Some pyjamas (I didn't use them as I was given a robe, but it might be nice to wear your own clothes when you're resting)
- A bottle of water to drink after the operation.
- Something to entertain yourself while you wait. A book, a games console, or your charged phone will work to keep your mind busy. Be sure to check whether you can use the internet while you're in the hospital.
- Any appropriate documents and a way to pay for your treatment, if applicable.
Your doctor will likely ask you not to eat or drink anything before you arrive for the procedure. Follow these instructions carefully, and consider having something light for your dinner the night before.
You might be dizzy after the operation so be sure to organise for someone to come and pick you up from the hospital. If there is no one who can come and get you, organise a taxi ride home. Before the operation itself, you may have some explanation from a nurse. It might be a good idea to have someone with you here in case you can't concentrate properly.
Arriving at the Hospital
When you arrive at the hospital, you might have to wait around for a while before the procedure begins. You might be put in a waiting room or you might be given a bed.
Before the D&C:
- You will be given an IV drip to keep you hydrated.
- You will likely be asked to change into a hospital robe.
- You'll be asked to see the doctor so he can insert an instrument into your vagina. This opens the cervix to make the procedure easier. The insertion is not painful, but it can be quite uncomfortable.
- After that, you'll be asked to wait a bit again before it begins.
A D&C can be nerve-wracking, especially if it is your first time to be put under general anaesthesia. Keep your mind occupied by studying, reading, or playing a game.
Finally, you'll be asked to see the doctor again so he can perform the operation. You will lie in a chair with stirrups specially used for gynaecology. You will then be strapped down for your safety; some patients can panic or get confused when waking up from anaesthesia.
You will wear an oxygen mask to assist your breathing while you are under. General anaesthesia itself is very strange; you may feel like the ceiling or walls are moving, like you're suddenly dizzy. The good news is that before you even realise it, you'll be awake again. It happens so fast that you may feel like you didn't sleep at all.
While you are asleep, the doctor removes the fetus from your uterus. This shouldn't take longer than an hour or so.
After that, you'll be asked to go back to your bed for a while to rest. I was left to sleep for around two hours, with nurses coming in every thirty minutes or so to check my blood pressure and to check for bleeding.
If all has gone well, you'll have a debrief with a nurse who will tell you what you need to do. You'll get some antibiotics and likely visit the doctor again in a week to check that everything is OK.
For the week after the operation, you will likely bleed, so use maxi pads every day. Also be sure to eat healthily, avoid alcohol since you'll be on antibiotics, and get plenty of rest and sleep. Take time off work if possible. Alternatively, you may feel that keeping busy is best.
After the stress of the operation is over, it is normal to feel many negative emotions such as sadness and grief.
Take care of your basic needs such as eating, drinking, and sleeping. Depression can make it seem like you don't want or deserve things like food. Your partner will be supporting you, but remember that he has lost the baby as well. You will need to take care of each other. Talk out your feelings. It will get easier. You will never forget, but it will get easier.
After this loss, consider doing the following to help you both move on:
- Go out for dinner together.
- Spend time with friends and family.
- Keep yourself busy to keep your mind active. Consider painting or writing to help you express your grief if you need to.
- Get plenty of rest the first week, but start doing light exercise after your doctor says it's OK.
You will undoubtedly like to know whether this event has affected your body in the long-run. The good news is that a miscarriage is unlikely to affect your future ability to have children. If you like, you can think about trying for another baby in a few months' time when both you and your partner feel ready.
The D&C operation is unpleasant, but it is essential for your health. It is over relatively quickly and you can move on with peace of mind after speaking with your doctor. Afterwards, you and your partner will need to start down the road to emotional recovery.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Poppy
ziyena from the United States on October 21, 2018:
Not at all ... great title and to the point
Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on October 21, 2018:
I hope the title didn't upset you. Thank you for your kind comment.
ziyena from the United States on October 21, 2018:
When I saw the title I had an immediate flashback of sensations ... not a happy time for a woman to experience. Heartbreaking. Your article is carefully laid out and very helpful to those who are experiencing for the first time.
Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on October 17, 2018:
Thank you. Hopefully it will help people.
Liz Westwood from UK on October 17, 2018:
This is an excellent explanation from a very personal perspective.