Conceiving after a miscarriage

Losing a pregnancy is a common experience, albeit a distressing and often isolating one. More than one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, typically taking place within the first three months of pregnancy.

For women under 35, the chance of having a miscarriage in any given pregnancy is about 15 percent. Rates rise as you age, up to 20-35 percent between ages 35 and 45 and as high as 50 percent for women over 45.

But take heart -- it's very likely you will come out the other side with the baby you've dreamed of. If you've had one miscarriage, your chance of having a successful pregnancy isn't any different from anybody else's. Once you're able to create an embryo, odds are that you'll carry another one to term in the future.

With the vast majority of miscarriages, there's no danger in trying to get pregnant again once the miscarriage has fully completed. Still, many women are under the impression it's not safe conceive right away. There’re some old wives' tale about waiting three cycles after a miscarriage to get pregnant again. There is also some old data that perhaps people are more likely to miscarry again if they try immediately after, but that's all been proven wrong.

Whether you've had miscarriage or a procedure such as medical abortion (D&C), you should see your gynaecologist for a follow up appointment about two weeks afterward to make sure everything looks fine physically. If it’s fine, most of you can go ahead and have intercourse. The only thing that would prevent that is a traumatic procedure which might require longer healing. For instance, with a D&C, you may need a course of drugs to help control bleeding.

The trick to getting pregnant a second time is no different than it was initially. You need to try to time intercourse as close to ovulation as possible and have sex every other day in the days leading up to it as well. Of course, getting the green light physically doesn't mean you're actually up for it mentally. You don't want to get pregnant simply to replace the lost pregnancy. Start trying when you feel truly ready for the outcome, whether it's not getting pregnant, getting pregnant and having another loss, or getting pregnant and having a baby.

Moving forward may take more -- or less -- time than you think. After a miscarriage, women experience a range of emotions. What's right for one person is not for another, so don't force yourself to feel a certain way if you want to move on earlier or grieve longer than you perceive you should.

You might be tempted to ruminate on how aspects of your lifestyle in the past, like those crazy party days of college, might be connected to the miscarriage. Experts say that's counterproductive, as the cause of most pregnancies losses is unknown. Instead, focus on what you can do now and address all known risk factors for miscarriage. Stopping smoking is critical; giving up alcohol is probably a good idea as well. It's wise to cut caffeine intake to less than 20 milligrams a day (roughly 2 cups of coffee), though eliminating it completely is best. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and veggies is important, as is staying within a healthy body weight.

If you've had two or more miscarriages in a row, see your doctor for a more extensive evaluation to look for potential causes, such as an untreated infection, hormonal issue, or a reproductive abnormality.