How To Nourish Your Body After A Miscarriage
By Julie Sawaya
Pregnancy loss is a deeply painful, and unfortunately, all-too-common experience. I know this firsthand, after recently experiencing a missed miscarriage with my second pregnancy at 11 weeks.
Up to 25% of confirmed pregnancies end in loss, and this underscores how common miscarriage really is since loss can occur before pregnancy is even known. The vast majority (85%+) of pregnancy losses occur during the first trimester, but losses can occur in the second and third trimester as well.
The period of time following pregnancy loss is a combination of the zero (preconception) and fourth (postpartum) periods. Depending on when the loss occurs, a woman's body might go into a postpartum state, not unlike that of a full-term pregnancy. But no matter when pregnancy loss happens, there is a physical recovery period. This period of time is simultaneously important for preconception health.
Nutrition plays an important role in your recovery and in preparing to conceive again, yet it is rarely talked about. So I, along with our perinatal nutrition experts at Needed, prepared this guide on how nourishing yourself optimally can support your recovery from pregnancy loss and help prepare your body to conceive again.
It’s important to know that, even with the most optimal nutrition for both partners, pregnancy loss can still occur. The reverse is also true: pregnancy can progress normally even without optimal nutrition. Much of pregnancy and fertility remains outside of our control, but optimizing your nutrition is a helpful foundation as you prepare to conceive and carry a healthy baby.
With that, let’s dive into why nutritional support is needed after pregnancy loss:
1. To replenish and maintain nutrients
It might not seem like much is happening during early pregnancy, but a tremendous amount of growth and development is happening and big changes are taking place in your body. This development demands a significant amount of nutrients, and cutting off your supplements after a miscarriage can leave your body in a state of depletion.
Women in our community who experience loss often ask if they should continue their prenatal nutrition routine through a loss, and we, along with our medical advisors, give this a wholehearted, yes. It's also important to pay attention to your nutrition during this time and to try not to push yourself physically.
2. To help your body recover, and to promote hormone balance
Even though your pregnancy ended before 40 weeks, following a loss your body will still go through a post-pregnancy recovery phase. The two biggest physiological changes that will happen in the aftermath of pregnancy—regardless of when the loss occurs—are the uterus shedding its lining and hormone levels dropping.
Supporting this process through supplementation, just as you would during the postpartum period following birth, helps your body return to a balanced and healthy state. Needed's Prenatal Multi and Collagen Protein are ideal for recovery and tissue repair.
Hormone balance after a pregnancy loss can take time, much like any postpartum transition. That's why it's important to support your optimal hormone function with nutrients like Iodine and Selenium. Many will also benefit from including adaptogenic, and nervine botanicals like Shatavari, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Holy Basil, and Schisandra Berry into their post-loss recovery, as these herbs are incredibly helpful in supporting the body’s response to stress. These botanicals are also used to support thyroid function, ovulation, and overall vitality and wellbeing. Needed's new Stress Support supplement is specifically designed to support the maternal stress response during preconception and postpartum, including after pregnancy loss, with clinical-strength dosages of these botanicals.
3. To support blood loss
No matter when or how your pregnancy ends, your body loses blood, and miscarriage bleeding can be significant. It's important to be eating iron-rich foods such as lentils, spinach, or brown rice to compensate for the blood loss that's happening. If you aren’t consuming rich sources of heme iron several times per week, it’s likely you could benefit from an iron supplement.
Of course, the best approach is to have your levels tested by your OB or midwife, but if you’re experiencing symptoms of anemia like extreme fatigue, weakness, pale skin, chest pain, fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, cold hands and feet, inflammation, or soreness of your tongue, brittle nails, and unusual cravings for non-food substances like ice or dirt., there’s a good chance your levels are below optimal.
4. To support future pregnancies
I know all too well that another pregnancy may not be something you’re ready for yet, but just as it is recommended to start prenatal supplements several months before trying to conceive, it is wise to continue supplementation if you do plan to try again in the near future. Pregnancy after miscarriage is a common and often healing experience, and it’s ideal to support it through prenatal supplementation if you’re planning for it.
In addition to nutrient support from the vitamins and minerals in Needed's comprehensive Prenatal Multi, our Pre/Probiotic can help to optimize your microbiome in advance of a subsequent pregnancy. A healthy microbiome has been shown to improve fertility and pregnancy outcomes. You can watch Rescripted's IG Live event with Dr. Leah all about gut health and fertility here.
Men should focus on nutrition after loss, too.
We know that men contribute 50% of a developing baby’s DNA and that up to 40% of infertility and pregnancy loss is male-factor. Sperm take an average of 90-100 days to mature, and during this time period, they are susceptible to environmental, lifestyle, and nutritional factors. That’s why preconception supplementation isn’t just for women.
Needed's Men’s Plan provides optimal micronutrient and microbiome support to support optimal sperm health and overall men’s health, including fertility. It includes a tailored Men’s Multi, Omega-3, and Pre/Probiotic, with targeted strains that support gut health and seminal fluid (yes, semen have their own microbiome!). Gut health also plays a pivotal role in male fertility.
We and our medical advisors recommend both partners supplement for 3-6 months before trying to conceive. While it may be tempting for men to stop their supplement routine when they see that positive pregnancy test, we know that pregnancy doesn’t always progress as we hope. After a loss, some couples wish to try again within the first 1-3 cycles after a miscarriage, and research supports that this may be a safe and optimal choice. Sticking to his supplement routine and a healthy diet throughout your pregnancy (especially your first trimester) ensures that you don’t have to wait 3-6 months to start trying to conceive if you are both feeling emotionally ready to begin trying sooner.
Be kind to yourself.
We tend to be kinder to our bodies during pregnancy than when we are experiencing infertility or pregnancy loss. After experiencing a miscarriage, it’s very normal to wonder if you or your body are to blame. But in the vast majority of cases, there is nothing you could have done to cause or prevent your loss. Your body has worked hard to support your pregnancy and to preserve your own health after the pregnancy was no longer viable.
If you started a self-care practice during your pregnancy, like taking prenatal vitamins every day, eating foods that make you feel nourished, relaxing with an evening bath, or getting to sleep earlier than you usually would, I encourage you to maintain these self-care practices after a loss. Starting a new supplement ritual, like Needed's Stress Support, can help, too.
Your body will thank you for the kindness you show it. And, if you do conceive again after loss, you will have set a solid foundation of treating yourself and your body optimally that can carry you through your pregnancy after loss experience.
A final word
Pregnancy loss is hard. Take the time you need to grieve, heal, and prepare emotionally, physically, and spiritually for a future pregnancy if that’s something you desire. Nutrition is an important foundation of physical recovery and preparing for a future pregnancy. So is feeling supported through your loss. Know you are not alone, and that both Needed and Fertility Rescripted are here to support you.
Use the code FERTILITYRESCRIPTED to get 20% off your first order at Needed, or the first 3 months of a subscription plan.
Julie Sawaya is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Needed.