How to Cope With Miscarriage

Miscarriage is more common than one would think, but this information may be cold comfort if you are coping with a recent loss. Many women are surprised by the intensity of their emotions after a miscarriage. The feelings can range from shock and sadness to irrational guilt and anxiety about future pregnancies. Men may also struggle with feelings of loss and inadequacy and this is especially true if they are not sure about how to help their partner through this difficult period.

These feelings are normal, and the emotional healing process after a miscarriage may take some time. It very often takes much longer than physical healing. Allowing yourself to grieve the loss can help you come to terms with the loss in the long run.

Dealing with Feelings

Technically speaking, a miscarriage is a pregnancy lost before 20 weeks. Unfortunately, 15-20% of known or diagnosed pregnancies miscarry, most before 12 weeks. Most miscarriages are caused by a genetic abnormality that keeps the foetus from developing normally. Everyday activities such as exercising, working and having sex do not cause a miscarriage. Yet many women still blame themselves.

In the weeks after a miscarriage, many women experience a roller coaster of emotions and at the same time, a woman who just had a miscarriage is going through a hormonal shift as her body readjusts to not being pregnant. Her changing hormones can intensify the emotions she is feeling.

Grieving your Loss

Some friends and family may tell women they should not be feeling such a sense of loss. This attitude is common when the miscarriage occurs early in the pregnancy. But an early loss is not necessarily easier to handle than one later in the pregnancy. Even if a woman was pregnant for only a short time, she may have been planning the pregnancy for many years.

If you have been through a miscarriage, remember that your feelings are normal. Some women are hit harder than others. Allow yourself to experience the grieving process in your own way and at your own pace. It is common to feel fine one day, and terrible the next.

Sharing experiences with other women who have been through the same thing is often reassuring. You will be surprised to find out how many women have been through a miscarriage. Joining a support group may help. If your feelings start to interfere with your ability to get along in daily life, or if your sadness does not lessen after a couple of months, talk with your counsellor. You might benefit from talking to a mental health specialist.

Coping as a Couple

Men and women respond to a miscarriage in different ways. Men often shift into problem-solving mode when faced with a crisis. They may end up feeling helpless when they are not able to “fix” their partner’s grief. Miscommunication is also a common problem. Often a man sees his partner cry when he talks about the baby, so he learns not to bring up the subject. And because he does not bring it up, the woman might feel he does not care, when he really does.

Experts advise men to show how much they care and to open up and share their feelings. For example, they can watch their other children and let the woman take time to rest or self-care, do the dishes, or take their partner out for a special dinner.

Ready to Try Again?

A common question many women have is when they will be able to try again. Talk to your health care provider as to what is best for you. In general, the first menstrual period occurs four to six weeks after a miscarriage. It is usually safe to conceive after one normal menstrual cycle. At times you may be advised to have medical tests first to determine the cause of your miscarriage. Also, your emotions may need a little more healing time than your body. It is best to wait until you are ready physically and emotionally before getting pregnant again.

Fears about suffering another pregnancy loss are common after a miscarriage. The reality is that many women who miscarry go on to have a healthy pregnancy the next time around. Don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider and counsellor about any concerns you may have.