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What is a Chemical Pregnancy? Tips to Cope With the Loss

What is a Chemical Pregnancy? Tips to Cope With the Loss

what is chemical pregnancy

A chemical pregnancy is devastating. You spend months trying to conceive, and then suddenly you’re not pregnant anymore. 

Many women don’t even know that they were pregnant until they notice bleeding a few weeks after ovulation, which can be confusing because it looks like your period is due. But there’s no heartbeat or fetal development so the pregnancy ends before you even realize it started.

This is incredibly hard on couples who have been trying for years to get pregnant and end up miscarrying without ever knowing that they had conceived in the first place.

sad couple after chemical pregnancy

What is a Chemical Pregnancy?

A chemical pregnancy is a pregnancy that ends before the mother even knows she is pregnant. You might have a chemical pregnancy if you experience implantation bleeding, which some people mistake for a regular period.

A chemical pregnancy may also be called a “chemical miscarriage” because it’s basically like miscarrying without ever knowing you were pregnant.

women crying with red hands

Chemical pregnancies are more common than many women realize. In fact, one in six known pregnancies ends this way. Most of them happen so early on that there’s no sign of any missed menstrual periods or morning sickness whatsoever. Study shows that underweight women according to their BMI are more likely to have an early miscarriage.

But just because they’re not always obvious doesn’t mean they’re harmless. A chemical pregnancy can lead to regret and depression for those who don’t know what caused their symptoms or why they don’t even have a miscarriage to mourn.

devastated woman crying after chemical pregnancy

Chemical Pregnancy Symptoms

The following can indicate that you might be experiencing a chemical pregnancy.

  • Spotting or light bleeding before and during the time when your period is due. This is implantation bleeding, which can be mistaken for a regular period. You may experience this around 6-12 days after ovulation as your fertilized egg implants in the uterus lining.
  • Increased vaginal discharge before and during a period. This is caused by your body preparing to support the fertilized egg. When implantation doesn’t occur, you may notice this same discharge as a period about 10 days later.
  • Nausea or feeling queasy that occurs before or after ovulation. You may also have other pregnancy symptoms before realizing that you are pregnant.
  • Frequent urination, which can occur as your body releases hormones that support the early pregnancy. 
  • Longer or heavier periods than normal, especially if they’re redder in color and accompanied by cramps.
  • Breast tenderness or increased breast size.
  • A missed menstrual period, especially if you experience any of the symptoms listed above.
  • Fatigue that doesn’t go away, or that gets worse as your period approaches (if you even have a period).
  • Extreme mood swings that are out of character for you, especially if they’re accompanied by crying spells and despair. 
woman crying after chemical pregnancy

If you have experienced some of these symptoms, be aware that you could have had a chemical pregnancy. Even if your period arrives on time, you can still have an early miscarriage without ever knowing it happened.

The Physical and Emotional Effects of a Chemical Miscarriage

Chemical pregnancies are mortifying. Some people report feeling as if they’re having an anxiety attack with panic attacks or depression. One woman might feel sadness but another person might feel anger or even relief.

Coping with the loss of chemical pregnancy

It’s important to know that your symptoms may vary from that of someone else’s and treatment for these types of reactions may also differ.

Can a chemical pregnancy be dangerous? It’s really not known if there are any long-term effects from this type of miscarriage because the majority of women never realize they were pregnant in the first place.

Because we don’t know the risks, some doctors recommend that you still see your doctor even after a chemical pregnancy. This gives them an opportunity to check you out and see if everything is as it should be. Your doctor can also advise you on further steps to take, such as treatment for depression or anxiety that may occur along with your loss.

How to Cope with the Experience of a Chemical Pregnancy?

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers for how to cope with a chemical pregnancy. Talk to your doctor because they may be able to help with depression or anxiety that might also come with the loss.

talk with family and friends after chemical pregnancy

If you are struggling with the loss of a chemical pregnancy, know that there are others who have experienced the same loss. Consider talking to your family and friends because it’s one thing to understand what happened without being able to tell anyone.

Tips for dealing with the confusion and pain that comes from experiencing a chemical pregnancy

Only about half of pregnancies end in live births, so it’s not surprising if a lot of people don’t know that they’re pregnant until after they miscarried.

chemical pregnancy loss

Even if you got off relatively easy, it can still take months for the shock to wear off and to feel like yourself again. Here are some things you can do while you’re waiting for those sad feelings to go away:

  • Cry if you need to, but make sure that you’re not crying in a way that’s holding your body and mind back from healing.
  • Do things that will help you feel more like yourself again, such as going outdoors or spending time with other people who care about you.
  • Try keeping a journal that helps you process your feelings. Remember the good experiences that were part of this pregnancy.
  • Remember to eat well, take your vitamins, get plenty of rest, and avoid activities that could cause injuries. The best thing you can do for yourself right now gives your body what it needs most—time to heal.
  • Your mind and body can be a powerful healing team. But only if you give them time to do their work.
  • The best thing that you can do for yourself is taking care of yourself physically. So your body can have the strength and energy it needs to heal itself from this loss.
  • If you are eating well, getting enough rest, and doing the things you need to do to take care of your health, you’re are moving forward. It may seem like all that’s happened is that a baby died. But it’s more than that. Something inside you will change forever once this miscarriage happens.
  • The most important thing you can do for your well-being is to forgive and love yourself. Especially when you’re on the rebound from this painful loss.
  • It’s natural in this situation to want to blame yourself for what happened. You may feel that there was something that you could have done differently and it might have changed the outcome. Process these feelings with a therapist or trusted friend you can talk to.

Want to Have Another Baby?

It’s also natural in this situation to want to have another baby. Especially because that’s one of the ways you may try and heal yourself from a miscarriage. But the truth is that having another child won’t change what happened. And chances are it will trigger more painful memories about this loss. Moreover, your body might not be ready for another pregnancy yet.

The most important thing for healing after a chemical pregnancy is to give yourself time. If you want to have another child in the future, you need to focus on yourself first. Make sure that you’re ready for it emotionally, physically, and financially.

Final Say

Chemical pregnancies are very real and can have a lasting impact on the mother. Take care of your physical health. Eat well, get enough rest, and avoid activities that could cause injuries.

You should be ready for a baby (or more children) before you decide to have one. If you are not emotionally, physically, and financially prepared, then it is not the time to get pregnant.

Have you experienced a chemical pregnancy? How did you cope with it? If not, how would you have coped if this had happened to you?

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