How to cope with a miscarriage
The loss of a child, whether it happens while pregnant or after birth is unimaginable. Further, whether a pregnancy is lost early in the first trimester or later in the pregnancy, it is significant and it is appropriate to grieve.
A common misconception is that miscarrige is uncommon, however 10-15% of pregnancies end in loss. According to Postpartum Support International, 80% of losses occur within the first three months of pregnancy, 14% of losses occur in the second trimester, and 6% of losses occur in the third trimester.
It is not widely known that miscarriages are so common because not enough people are talking about their experience. There is stigma and shame attached to this kind of loss. People are disregarded and made to feel like this loss is not significant rather than receiving the validation and empathy they deserve.
Miscarriage Will Bring About Many Emotions
The moment a woman receives a positive pregnancy test, for many, bonding begins to occur. The parents begin to imagine a life with this addition to their family and what that will look like. Birthdays, milestones, holidays, first steps, just to name a few. They dream of sleepless nights and baby snuggles only to be met with unimaginable pain and despair. Instead of hearing the sweet cooing sound of their newborn baby they are hearing “there is no heartbeat” over and over in their heads.
With this significant loss, comes so many possible emotions:
Depression: With such an unimaginable loss comes sadness and depression. Sadness imagining what could’ve and should’ve been. Some symptoms of depression include; loss of appetite, poor sleep, lack of interest in activities, isolation, suicidal thoughts.
Denial: At first shock and denial may set in. Disbelief that this is really what you are going through and what your new reality is. You may be thinking, “there’s no way all those dreams and expectations about the future are gone now.”
Anger: It is common to feel anger that this has happened to you and your baby. You may direct that anger towards yourself, your partner, your doctor or your higher being.
Guilt: Sometimes women going through this will place blame on themselves or feel their body has failed them which can trigger feelings of guilt or shame. They may question if there is anything they could have done to prevent this.
Envy: Around every corner there appears a pregnant bump, everytime you check the mail there is a baby shower invitation, or maybe you check social media to find another pregnancy announcement. These may trigger feelings of envy that other people are having successful pregnancies while you experience a loss.
Whatever you are feeling during this difficult time is completely VALID and you deserve to feel these feelings in order to move forward towards healing.
Tips to Cope & Move Towards Healing
Create memories of your baby: some ideas to do this include; naming your baby, holding a memorial service, planting a tree or flower in memory of your baby, or creating another memorial in your baby’s honor.
Take your time: some days will be harder than others. It is important you take it one day at a time (or even one moment at a time if thinking about a whole day is too tough). Try not to make any big changes or decisions at this time while you are grieving.
Talk to your partner: Although everyone grieves differently, it is important to be open with your partner about your thoughts and feelings. Express to each other how you feel and how you are coping. One partner may want to talk more than the other and that is okay. If your partner needs time before opening up, respect that and turn to another support person until they are ready.
Listen to yourself: Trust that you know what you need right now. Listen to your body and respect what it is telling you. Get enough rest and take it easy. Try not to punish yourself, if there are days you cannot get out of your bed or off of the couch, that is exactly what you needed on that day. Do not turn to drugs or alcohol to cope, these unhealthy coping mechanisms will make you feel worse.
Journal: Journaling is a very healthy coping mechanism to help process your thoughts and feelings. Keep a journal as an outlet for your pain and emotions.
Turn to your support system: You should not have to go through this excruciating time alone. Reach out to the people you trust and you know can support you adequately. Try your hardest to be direct with what you need and do not feel bad for asking for help. Whether you need someone to talk to or you need someone to run to the grocery store or to do your laundry, try your best to rely on loved ones at this time to ease your burden.
Go to therapy or join a support group: Friends and loved ones are great support, but they are not professionals. When you are ready, the best thing you can do for yourself during this hard time is to reach out for professional help. Whether it is individual therapy or group therapy, both have proven to be paramount in the healing process. It can be so comforting to be surrounded by other people who have gone through a similar experience so you know you are not alone. Click here for a list of support groups.
You are so deserving of help at this time!! Please reach out to a loved one or a professional to support you. It may not feel like it right now, but you will get better and you will feel happiness again. Trust and allow yourself to feel your feelings at this time in order to move towards healing.