We wish none of us ever experiences miscarriage, but very sadly, that’s how a reported 1 in 4 confirmed pregnancies come to an end. And as if the emotional impact of going through an early miscarriage isn’t enough, you may also experience discomfort, cramping or backache as it happens and you lose your baby – or as the medics not-very-helpfully put it, you ” your pregnancy tissue” passes.
But you don’t have to put up with the physical pain. “It can be severe, and that constant physical reminder can only add to the emotional pain and turmoil you’re going through,” says expert GP Dr Philippa Kaye. “So treat it.
“There are good treatments, many of which are available over the counter (though do check with your pharmacist). Pain relief will actually improve your physical ability to heal.”
Which painkillers can I use?
You can use painkillers like paracetamol, co-codamol, codeine, or ibuprofen to help you deal with cramps and aches, Dr Philippa explains.
“You can use any over-the-counter painkillers,” she says, “as long as you don’t have another issue which could cause a problem (for example, some people with asthma are unable to take ibuprofen). So speak to your pharmacist if you aren’t sure but, generally, there is no issue with using paracetamol, ibuprofen, low dose codeine or co-codamol.
“It is worth speaking to the pharmacist to be sure which of these painkillers you can combine – and which you can’t. Remember, co-codamol contains paracetamol and so mustn’t be taken with any other paracetamol-containing medicine.”
What do I do if the painkillers aren’t working?
If you’re concerned about the pain you’re having, get in touch with your doctor or with your local Early Pregnancy Unit.
And seek help urgently, says Dr Philippa, if you’re also having other unusual or extreme symptoms such as dizziness, fever, diarrhoea or extremely heavy bleeding.
What if I’m having my miscarriage in hospital?
Generally, once doctors have confirmed that you’re miscarrying, they will ask you if you’d prefer to leave hospital and allow the miscarriage to “complete” at home.
Only if you are bleeding very heavily or in more pain than you can manage will you be advised to stay in the hospital. If this is the case for you, your doctor will prescribe appropriate pain relief.
If your miscarriage doesn’t complete fully and there is tissue remaining – or if there are complications such as continuous heavy bleeding – you may need a SMM (surgical management of miscarriage) procedure. Again, your doctor will prescribe appropriate pain relief, should you need it, to help you with your recovery.
We want you to know…
If you’re going through this right now: we’re so sorry to hear it, and we’re thinking of you…
Dr Philippa Kaye works as a GP in both NHS and private practice. She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London, training in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice. Dr Philippa has also written a number of books, including ones on pregnancy, child health, diabetes in childhood and adolescence. She is a mum of 3.
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