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Pregnancy Loss: Processing The Pain of Miscarriage

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Intro

Miscarriage (early pregnancy loss) is an emotional and often traumatic time. In addition to experiencing enormous grief over the loss of your baby, there are physical impacts of a miscarriage — and often relationship impacts, too.

While nothing can erase the loss, there are steps you can take in both the short- and long-term to help you move toward healing and recovery.

The emotional devastation of miscarriage

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Initially, the emotional impacts of a miscarriage can be devastating. While every person will process loss differently, the range of emotions can include:

  • grief
  • hopelessness
  • sadness
  • guilt
  • anger
  • jealousy (of other parents)
  • intense feelings of loneliness (especially if there are a lot of parents in your social circle)

Many find it difficult to talk about their loss. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that early pregnancy loss occurs in at least 10 percent of pregnancies. While knowing that many other parents experience miscarriage won’t erase your emotional pain, it may help you feel more comfortable sharing your story and help you manage the loss over the long term.

The physical aftermath of miscarriage

After the initial grief of miscarriage, there’s the physical aftermath to contend with as well. The extent of your body’s repair depends on how far along you were before pregnancy loss. Since miscarriage occurs before 20 weeks of gestation, this can vary greatly.

Some know they’re pregnant as soon as they miss their period. An early miscarriage soon after is often indicated by starting menstruation again. Others may miscarry in the first two months, some without realizing they were pregnant.

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Beyond this short time frame, a miscarriage will require medical treatment. Your doctor will likely give you medications either orally or vaginally to help your body pass any remaining tissues. The passage can be painful and extremely emotional.

Your doctor will also need to conduct a follow-up ultrasound to ensure that all tissues have passed to avoid any complications. This process can be devastating. Strongly consider having your partner or other loved one there for support.

Short-term steps

Immediately after miscarriage, you’ll want to take care of yourself while also allowing yourself to grieve. Below are just some of the steps you may want to take:

Allow yourself to express your emotions

Miscarriage is like losing a loved one, which comes with a roller coaster of emotions ranging from sadness to despair. However, unlike other types of deaths, miscarriage can bring about a different type of anger.

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You may feel angry about not getting the chance to meet your baby outside of the womb. You may feel angry at the world over other pregnancies that make it to term. It’s important that you express all of your feelings. It’s normal to feel this way and a natural part of the grieving process. Don’t feel ashamed to grieve.

Rely on friends and loved ones for help

As you grieve your miscarriage, you may not be able to stick with your normal schedule. Enlist the help of friends and loved ones to help you with chores, pet care, or family care. You also need them as a sounding board as you express your emotions.

Find a support group

Miscarriage isn’t uncommon, so there are many in-person and online support groups available for this type of loss. While your friends and family will always be there for you, it can also help to connect with others who have gone through the exact same loss.

Seek spiritual guidance

If you’re religiously inclined, it may also help to speak with a spiritual leader or attend group worship events.

Talk with a therapist
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A grief counselor can help you navigate your pregnancy loss and help you recover more effectively. Depending on your needs, you might also go to couples counseling with your partner.

Long-term recovery

Long-term recovery from miscarriage depends greatly on your mental health and overall emotional well-being. While your body will recover from the physical symptoms of miscarriage, it may seem like you’ll never be able to process the loss of your baby.

It’s important to dedicate sufficient time to grieve, but it’s just as important to know when — and how — to move on. This transition often happens during the self-care process, which allows time to heal and nurture your body and mind.

Moving on certainly doesn’t mean forgetting about your pregnancy. Just as you might reach out to others initially after miscarriage, staying active in support groups can have a lasting impact. Someday, your role may be reversed. You’ll support another parent who has experienced a miscarriage.

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It’s also important not to rush into getting pregnant within any certain time frame. Your OB-GYN will certainly let you know when you should try again, but being physically ready is much different than being emotionally ready. A future pregnancy won’t replace an early pregnancy loss, so allow yourself the time and space to fully grieve your loss before moving on.

Takeaway

Initially, it might seem like you’ll never get over the devastating loss of your pregnancy. However, things will eventually get better. You will recover in time.

Give yourself lots of love and care as you cope with miscarriage. Seeking out help and support from others who have gone through miscarriage can help greatly. Pregnancy loss can create a sense of loneliness, but remember that you’re not alone as you cope.

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