A miscarriage can happen suddenly, or take weeks. If it takes weeks, you may experience some cramping and spotting as your body prepares. Physical symptoms will become noticeably stronger when you begin to pass the miscarriage.
Once bleeding and cramping begin, it will continue until all of the tissue, or products of conception, pass. This includes various tissues from the developing fetus, the placenta, and the uterine lining. The longer the gestational age of the fetus, the more intense the cramping is likely to be. This is not always true, however, as we’ve found if you miscarried early on but your body did not recognize it for many weeks, the intensity is often increased more relative to the gestational age. What does this mean? Cramping and pressure sensations may get intense, but as long as you don’t have any warning signs, your body is working beautifully.
Reminder of warning signs: feeling spacey, very sleepy, incoherent, unusually anxious, becoming pale, soaking a pad in 30 minutes, bleeding steadily for more than 2 hours without passing the tissue, or developing a fever. Seek immediate medical attention for any of these concerns.
It's important to monitor yourself for fever the whole time and for a week after to make sure there's no infection from retained tissue. Take your temperature every few hours. Normal is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius
I recommend keeping a pad in so you can walk, sway, or move as it feels helpful. Use the bathroom often. Empty your bladder frequently to reduce cramping and keep things moving along. You may feel most comfortable sitting on the toilet during this time. Again, just listen to what your body needs.
You will pass clots of blood as well as the fetus, placenta, and sac of membranes. Some women do not see the tissues, but if you would like to see them, or collect them, then keep an eye out. It will be small, milky white or clear, with some light red. Some women keep the tissue for genetic testing purposes (talk to your doctor about if this is necessary for you) or to bury it. There is currently no ritual around miscarriage, so I encourage you to to do something, even just a short prayer. See Section 3 for other ideas.
You should be able to tell when all the tissue has passed. You will likely have a sense of knowing; also, the cramping will reduce significantly and bleeding will slow.
You will likely bleed longer than a normal period, so eat extra red meat and/or take grassfed liver pills. Listen to what else your body needs (this cannot be over emphasized!). Sticking with warm foods for a week afterward nourishes the organs.
Regarding how long you may bleed, it should taper off like a period. Continued heavy bleeding could indicate retained products of conception (tissue), especially if you notice foul smelling discharge or a fever. This is a serious issue requiring immediate medical attention.
Do not put, or allow, anything in your vagina for at least 2 weeks from when you pass the miscarriage. This includes tampons, toys, penis, etc. No baths or hot tubs for the same time frame. Reducing the potential for infection is very important.
LISTEN! You will likely feel a burst of energy and want to be active- resist this feeling and keep resting! Not resting may increase bleeding significantly or create further problems. Though not full term, from your body’s perspective you are giving birth. Your body needs to rebuild, replenish, and rest.