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Coping with Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss

Pregnancy Loss & TTCAL Info Spot

Information on pregnancy loss, grief, coping, ttcal & more.

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October 4th, 2009, 11:25 AM
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After a miscarriage or stillbirth, your grief may be so overwhelming that you wonder if you will ever be happy again. You may never truly “get over” your loss, but know that your grief will become more manageable over time especially if you recognize your feelings as valid and accept that you may need time to work through them.

Immediate Aftermath of Miscarriage

In addition to your normal feelings of sadness, the falling hormone levels in your body after a miscarriage might magnify your feelings into full-blown depression. If your grief feels unmanageable at first, give yourself a little bit of time. The hormonal part, at least, should fade within a few weeks.
Your specific feelings may range anywhere from sadness to anger to depression. You may feel angry at yourself, as if your body failed you. You may feel depressed, especially if you had wanted the baby for a long time. You may even feel guilty, wondering if something you did caused the miscarriage.
Whatever you are feeling is probably normal, but please remember that your loss was not your fault. You may feel a temptation to review your entire medical history and everything you did during the pregnancy in order to find a reason why it happened, but try to resist the temptation. Miscarriage causes rarely have anything to do with anything you did.

Facing Daily Life After a Miscarriage

You may feel like you see babies and pregnancy everywhere you look after a loss. TV commercials, baby shower invitations, and even walking past the diaper aisle in the grocery store may begin to bother you. You may feel jealous of pregnant women and mothers of new babies, especially those who seem to get pregnant easily. If so, your feelings are normal and valid, but knowing that may not make you feel better.
You do need to give yourself space to grieve. Expect to have to deal with the five stages of grief that you have probably heard about, with denial through to anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Friends and family may provide comfort, additional stress, or both. People who have never experienced a loss may be unable to relate to your feelings and may say unintentionally hurtful things to you, even if they’re trying to help. If your in-person support network isn’t helping you, consider finding a support group to help you through this difficult time.

Relationships and Miscarriage

Pregnancy loss may bring partners closer together, or it may throw severe strain into the relationship.

Men and women frequently react differently to loss. Although men typically report similar grief initially, they might talk about their feelings less and move past the emotional part of the loss more quickly than women. Women may interpret this as that men not caring about a miscarriage, and men sometimes respond by believing that women dwell too much on the pregnancy loss.
Couples need to share their feelings and lean on each other through the experience. Men should remember that women might feel the loss very deeply and might need more time and more talking to get past the grief. Women need to understand that even if men do not grieve as long or need to talk as much, men do care about and grieve miscarriages.

Specific Tips to Cope with Miscarriages

These tips may also be helpful in coping with your grief:
  • Honor your baby
    Sometimes it helps to memorialize your baby in a manner that is meaningful to you. Some women like to keep a statue of an angel or a pendant (numerous online retailers sell miscarriage memorial jewelry). Others may plant a tree or special garden.
  • Keep a journal
    Writing down your feelings can be surprisingly cathartic, particularly if you do not have anyone to talk to in person.
  • Find a support group
    It can help to be around others who are going through the same thing as you are. Sometimes local hospitals offer a support group or other service for people coping with pregnancy loss, but if nothing is available in person, numerous online support groups exist.
  • Take time off
    Especially in the immediate aftermath of your miscarriage, you may not want to be around people. If you can, take a vacation and get away from it all for a while.
  • Pick up a new hobby
    Almost everyone has some hobby that they want to pursue someday but just never “get around to it.” Deciding to take the leap and get started can provide a wonderful distraction from your daily life, particularly if you want to try to conceive again but have been advised to wait.
Knowing When to Seek Help

Some people need help to get through the grief of miscarriage, stillbirth, or other pregnancy loss. Don’t feel as if there’s anything wrong with you if this is true for you. A good general rule is to talk to a mental health professional if your grief is affecting your ability to function in your daily life.

Trying Again After a Miscarriage

Some find it therapeutic to try for a new pregnancy after a miscarriage, while others cannot even entertain the thought of trying again. Once you have medical clearance, your own feelings are your best guide as to when to try again.

If you are having recurrent miscarriages, talk to your doctor about a testing workup to rule out treatable miscarriage causes before you try again. If you are grieving your first (and hopefully your last) miscarriage, then follow your doctor’s recommendations on when to try again.

Sources: Swanson, Kristen M. "Gender Differences in Grief, Depression, and Satisfaction With Support After Miscarriage." Meeting Challenges of Pregnancy (Presentation) 15 July 2005. [Online]. 26 Sept 2007
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