There are a lot of horrible things associated with this global pandemic, but a big one is the amount of people suffering at home because they don't want to go to a doctor or hospital. Whether it's mental or physical, too many are waiting to seek healthcare, and that goes for women having miscarriages during quarantine. Should these women stay home to avoid exposing themselves or others to coronavirus? Should they rush straight out to the doctor?
Having a miscarriage at any time is devastating, but having one during a pandemic seems extra cruel. You're scared to leave your house, but you also don't want to put yourself at risk for something more serious. Your partner can't even go to the doctor with you, so you'll be alone. And, at the same time, you're dealing with the loss of a pregnancy, which can leave you feeling completely devastated.
Still, a miscarriage is never something that you want to ignore. Dr. Jodie Horton tells Romper, "During quarantine, my advice would not change for anyone who thinks they are experiencing a miscarriage. I believe it is important to call your doctor to describe the symptoms that you are experiencing to determine if medical attention is needed immediately. Common symptoms include bleeding, cramping, and possible passing of clots and tissue from the vagina."
If you are experiencing symptoms like those, you may be able to skip the emergency room visit, but you'll still need to head to the doctor's office. Here's what to expect, according to Dr. Horton: "Blood work and an ultrasound in the office can be done to confirm a live pregnancy, a miscarriage, or a more serious condition called ectopic or molar pregnancy. Depending on the symptoms and the results of the ultrasound, your doctor will discuss your options, which may include observation, medical or surgical management."
It's really important to look out for miscarriage symptoms that aren't quite as common, such as heavy vaginal bleeding (Dr. Horton says this would mean something like soaking a full pad every hour), severe pain, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. If you do experience these symptoms, you'll need medical attention immediately. Dr. Mary Jacobson, chief medical director at Alpha Medical, says, "If you have a history of an ectopic pregnancy or pelvic inflammatory disease and experience bleeding and cramping, you should be evaluated for a recurrent ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition."
If you aren't experiencing the more serious symptoms, you should call your doctor, but know that you can probably stay home to wait it out. "It is safe to avoid the doctor during a miscarriage if you know that the pregnancy is inside of your uterus, bleeding is steady, but not heavy, and if bleeding ends within a week," says Dr. Jacobson. "Most commonly, you will pass clots and small amounts of tissue — it does not look like a baby."
Again, though, even if your symptoms are more mild, you should always be in touch with your doctor or midwife if you experience any bleeding at all. Dr. Jacobson points out that they may not even ask you to come in (they know the risks, too), and may instead connect with you through a video chat consultation.
If you don't end up going to the doctor or the emergency room, know that it can take several hours or even up to a week for the bleeding and clotting to end. "I strongly recommend prioritizing your self-care following a miscarriage, and giving yourself time and ways to process it with your family, and to let your body recover," says Dr. Jacobson. Her advice includes getting plenty of rest, taking your temperature often to watch for signs of fever, using pads for the first 24 hours, avoiding douching, and avoiding intercourse until bleeding has stopped entirely. You should also use birth control for the first month following a miscarriage so your body can fully recover before getting pregnant again.
Lastly, don't be ashamed to seek out mental health support. "There are many remote mental health resources, like video and chat counseling services which will help you process the miscarriage emotionally, and give you tools for how to cope specifically during self-isolation," says Dr. Jacobson.
Dr. Jodie Horton
Dr. Mary Jacobson, chief medical director at Alpha Medical