Healthy living

Physical recovery after pregnancy loss

How you recover physically after your pregnancy loss will depend on your individual circumstances, including how far along your pregnancy was.

See your doctor

Medical care is important after a pregnancy loss to ensure that you recover physically and your body returns to its pre-pregnancy state. You should visit your GP within 1 to 2 weeks of the loss of your pregnancy. You may also want to discuss contraception during this visit. The results from any tests or investigations you have had will be sent to your GP.

Physical responses to pregnancy loss

Bleeding

Vaginal bleeding usually continues for 1 to 4 weeks. The amount decreases and the colour changes from bright red to pink to brown. You should use sanitary napkins (pads) at this time rather than tampons. If heavy bleeding occurs or if you experience strong pain see your GP or local health-care facility.

Breast milk production

Your breasts may already be producing milk, which is caused by hormones that stimulate the milk production. Your breasts may leak milk after hearing a baby cry, when thinking of your baby who has died, and at other times. Your breasts can be very sensitive to touch and may be painful and uncomfortable. Producing milk is distressing for some women and comforting for others.

You can reduce production of breast milk by:

  • decreasing handling or stimulation of your breasts
  • wearing a firm bra
  • using prescription medications provided and explained by your health-carer.

Painful breasts are often relieved by simple measures such as:

  • the application of cold compresses
  • using pillows for support
  • taking warm (not hot) showers.

Occasionally you may need to express milk to relieve discomfort, however this can actually cause your breasts to produce more milk. Speak to your doctor, nurse or midwife if you are unsure.

See stopping breast milk production after the loss of your baby or child.

When to seek further medical advice

Seek further advice from your GP or other health carer if:

  • you are feverish, shivering or sweating
  • you have stinging or burning when you urinate (wee)
  • your vaginal discharge (bleeding) returns to a bright red colour, unexpectedly increases in amount, or smells offensive
  • you have abdominal (stomach) pain or cramping
  • you have a hard, red and painful lump in a breast
  • you are worried.

Your GP or health carer can refer you to services if you feel depressed, anxious or feel that you are not coping well emotionally.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222

Acknowledgements

Women and Newborn Health Service


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

See also

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