How To Cope With A Miscarriage

December 19, 2007

After weeks or months of expecting a new baby and bonding with her while she's growing inside of you, the unthinkable has happened - you have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth. This is an emotional time for you and your partner, and you will need time to heal.

Sadly, miscarriage is often downplayed by others who haven't experienced one, and certain people may not understand why you are grieving over something you "never had." But, in fact your loss is very real and very painful, and your emotions are completely natural and justified. It is important for your emotional well-being and that of your partner for you both to deal with your feelings in an open and meaningful way.

Miscarriage Grief and Other Emotions

When you experience a miscarriage or stillbirth, it's normal to feel shock, depression, anger, guilt, failure, shame, sadness, and emptiness. You may feel withdrawn and moody and you may have trouble concentrating on anything. Your emotions can change at the drop of a hat and you may start crying out of nowhere. The days, weeks, and months following your loss can be very painful. Your emotions may be all the more painful if this is not your first pregnancy loss, and you carefully planned and monitored this pregnancy, thinking that you were doing everything "right."

Just remember that the emotions you are experiencing are natural and justified. Not only that, but you don't have to justify you emotions or explain them to outsiders during this time or ever, anyone who has gone though the same thing will understand, and anyone who doesn't understand can't possible unless they experience it themselves. Your emotions are personal and everyone grieves differently. Just accept your reactions for what they are - reactions to a tragic and traumatizing event in your family.

Although feelings of depression, isolation, and loneliness are normal and reported often by women grieving after a pregnancy loss, make sure to contact your doctor or a counselor if you feel they are coming out of hand or if they are interfering with your daily life after a few days. This may signal a bout of major depression that needs medical attention.

Don't Blame Yourself For a Pregnancy Loss

Self-blame is another commonly felt emotion after a miscarriage. While it may be tempting to think about what you could have done differently during the pregnancy, or how you could have prevented the miscarriage in some way, it's important to remember that pregnancy loss is no one's fault. Pregnancy loss and complications can strike anyone. Talk openly and honestly with your partner about how you are feeling and don't judge yourselves by your reactions. It is not your fault and you could not have prevented it.

Take Time to Heal After A Miscarriage

There is no set period a woman needs to grieve after a stillbirth or miscarriage. Some women may require a few days while others require a few months. Women who have had multiple miscarriages may need a longer healing time.

Don't pressure yourself to get over your loss quickly or within a certain tie frame. Healing will be more productive if you deal with your emotions as they come. You may relive your pain at various milestones such as around your due date. Over time, the pain will start to diminish and you will feel better. Don't even think about planning another baby until you have grieved properly for this one.

You may want to take time off work to acknowledge and accept what you have gone though, and give you a chance to process what happened.

Your Partner and Miscarriage

You and your partner are both dealing with an intense emotional time, and you may be dealing with it in different ways, and this is okay. However, you may feel that your relationship is noticeably strained during this time. Although it can be difficult to verbalize how you are feeling, it is important to discuss your emotions. This will ease the tension and help both of you immensely. Since you have both gone through the same situation, your partner is someone you can talk to who should understand, even if he shows his grief in a different way.

Your partner may also feel apprehensive about broaching the topic with you because he doesn't want to upset you. If you are not ready to talk about your loss, be honest with your partner, but also let him know if you do want to talk about it. You partner may be anxious to air his own thoughts and emotions too. Remember, this is both of your loss. Just because your partner may be acting out his grief in a different way, it doesn't mean he doesn't feel the same as you - in fact, he may be trying to protect you by hiding his own grief. Don't expect yourself to progress in the same way as your partner or vice versa.

If your relationship with your partner is feeling excessively strained, you may want to enroll in couples counseling or a support group together. This can help both of you air your feeling and bring up tough issues to work through.

Getting Support After A Miscarriage

If you have told others about your pregnancy, the thought of telling them about the miscarriage may be overwhelming or scary, but remember that the people you care about will only want to help, even if they can't fully understand your intense emotions. Do not withdraw from your social support network; instead seek their support.

Your family and friends can be an excellent source of strength and support during this difficult time. However, it may seem like the people you want support from the most are making it worse by ignoring the situation. This can make you feel angry and hurt and cause you to withdraw. Remember they are probably acting as they are because they don't want to bring up the topic and upset you. Be honest with your family and friends and don't be afraid to tell them when you need them to listen. It may be helpful to make some rules about what topics are and are not permissible to bring up.

Talking with a professional or miscarriage support group can also do a world of good for your emotional healing. This will help you come to terms with your loss, and hearing stories from people who have gone through the same thing will help you feel less isolated and alone.

What You Can Do To Remember Your Baby

Many people find that doing something to commemorate their lost baby helps significantly in letting go. Do what feels natural to you. This may be holding a memorial service, planting a special tree, writing about your experience to help others, or creating a special website dedicated to the memory of your child. Be creative, the possibilities are endless. Of course, if you would prefer not to, this is okay too. But taking action may help turn a negative reaction into a positive growth experience, at the very least.

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