After the death of your baby, you’ve probably already got a list of questions you’d love the answers to. Write them down whenever you think of them to help you when you get a chance to speak to your doctor. You may not be able to get all the answers right away, and unfortunately some of your questions may always be unanswered. Below you’ll find 10 questions you may want to add to your list to discuss at your follow-up appointment with your doctor.
1. What caused this?
If you’ve spent any time on this site, you probably already know that many times, we don’t know the cause of a pregnancy loss. Particularly in early miscarriage, the cause may never be known. The most common cause is a chromosomal abnormality, which is random and unlikely to repeat in future pregnancies. However, if there is a known cause for your pregnancy loss, you’ll want to learn what it is.
2. What could I have done differently?
Pregnancy loss is rarely anyone’s fault. Even in cases where the cause is known, there is usually nothing anyone could have done to prevent it.
3. Will this happen again?
Your odds of having another pregnancy loss vary greatly depending on the timing and type of loss you had. If you’ve only had one early miscarriage, for example, you are less likely to have another loss than if you have cervical insufficiency. Your doctor or midwife will be able to give you your odds based on your specific case.
4. Is there anything I can do to reduce my risk of this happening again?
Your doctor will be able to give you specifics, but there are a few treatments available for women who have recurrent miscarriages. Your doctor may also recommend more frequent ultrasounds or monitoring of your baby, for example. Ask for more information on what treatments might be available to you.
5. Is there anything else I can do to improve my chances of having a live baby?
There are a few simple things you can do to have your best possible chances of a healthy pregnancy -- from quitting unhealthy habits like smoking to controlling chronic health conditions. Your doctor or midwife may have other suggestions as well.
6. Is anyone else in my family at risk for the same kind of pregnancy loss?
There are a few conditions that run in families that can increase your risk of pregnancy loss. Some clotting disorders, for example, may affect more than one sibling in a family. If you are the first in your family to have a pregnancy loss, or the first to get pregnant, and your loss is related to a chronic condition, you may want to ask your doctor if there is any chance other women in your family could have the same condition. Testing may help your family members get the treatment they need before the heartbreak of pregnancy loss.
7. Do you recommend any further testing?
If you’ve had more than one pregnancy loss, or a stillbirth, your doctor may recommend you undergo some testing before trying to get pregnant again. Testing can reveal the underlying causes of your losses and help your doctor prescribe a treatment that may make it possible for you to have a healthy pregnancy.
8. How long should I wait before trying to get pregnant again?
Your doctor will be able to tell you if there is a certain time period you should wait before trying to get pregnant again. Advice varies on how long to wait after an uncomplicated miscarriage. Some doctors will advise as long as three months, while others are comfortable with patients trying again immediately. Of course, it’s also important to ask YOURSELF when YOU are ready.
9. Are there any alternative medicine treatments I can try?
Western medicine is becoming more aware and accepting of alternative or complementary medicine therapies, such as herbal supplements or acupuncture. While some treatments, such as wild yam progesterone cream, have been studied and found to be ineffective, others could be beneficial. Talk to your provider about any treatments you should specifically avoid, and be sure to keep your provider informed about any herbal supplements you would like to take, as they can interact with prescription drugs.
10. Can you recommend a counselor to me?
Not every woman who goes through a pregnancy loss will need a grief counselor. Not everyone who grieves will develop clinical depression. But if you do need professional help to cope with your loss, your OB/GYN or midwife may be able to recommend someone who is experienced in helping women after the death of a child. You may never need that name, but it certainly won’t hurt to have it available.