Coping with a miscarriage can be a very difficult time, both physically and emotionally, and while there is nothing that can take away from the loss and grief you are feeling, the tips below helped me heal after my own miscarriage 10+ years ago. And I hope they help you too.
Coping with a Miscarriage
Pregnancy didn’t come easily to my husband and me. After spending a lifetime trying everything in my power NOT to get pregnant, I naively assumed it would happen the moment we stopped using birth control. Boy, was I wrong! Within a few months, I found myself drowning in a world filled with ovulation kits and bi-weekly acupuncture appointments. I gave up cow’s milk and alcohol, I only drank room-temperature water, and spent a lot of time practicing mindfulness. Getting pregnant was the only thing I ever thought about, and each time my period arrived, I found myself becoming more and more anxious and depressed.
As we approached the one-year mark, we decided to take a break from it all. I had just accepted a position at a new company, and my husband and I decided to celebrate with a stress-free, week-long trip away from reality. It felt good to put all of the baby stuff on hold for a while, and to eat and drink whatever my heart desired for 7 full days and nights.
I’d often heard of couples getting pregnant the moment they put baby-making on hold, and sure enough, I had my first positive pregnancy test on the last day of our trip. My husband and I were over the moon with excitement and told both of our families once we were home. I threw all of my ovulation kits in the trash, bid adieu to my acupuncturist, and traded Taking Charge of Your Fertility for What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Life was good.
And then it wasn’t.
In the wee hours on the second day at my new job, I woke up to use the bathroom and discovered that I was bleeding. It wasn’t a lot of blood, and the optimist in me wanted to hold onto hope, but I knew deep down what was happening. I woke up my husband, wrote an email to my new boss about a fictitious illness, and we headed to the ER. Twelve hours later we received confirmation that I had miscarried, and while I was only ~6 weeks along, the loss we felt was staggering.
How Common Are Miscarriages?
I spent a lot of time researching about miscarriages in the days and weeks after our loss, and I was surprised to find out how incredibly common they are. Some sources estimate that 50% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage, but as many of these occur before a missed period (and before a positive pregnancy test), the general consensus tends to suggest that 15% to 25% of recognized pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Miscarriages are most likely to occur within the first trimester of pregnancy, which is why many people wait until the 12-week mark before telling the world they’re pregnant.
Coping with a Miscarriage: 10 Tips That Help
1) Allow yourself to fully grieve (and don’t apologize for it)
Regardless of how far along you are in your pregnancy when you miscarry, you will likely experience a range of feelings in the weeks and months that follow. You may find yourself in denial for a period of time, and may feel things like guilt, anger, sadness, and depression. All of these emotions are completely normal, and it’s important to allow yourself to experience and work through these thoughts and feelings unapologetically. I remember feeling as though I wasn’t allowed to grieve my own miscarriage as it happened so early on, but after months of trying to get pregnant, I really struggled to accept what happened and move forward. Remember that the only way out of grief is to go through it, so take your time and be gentle with yourself!
2) Remember that everyone experiences grief differently
While some people like to crawl into bed and pull the covers over their head when they are grieving, others prefer to keep themselves busy. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and those close to you (including your spouse) will probably try to keep their emotions in check while they support you as you heal both physically and emotionally. Never apologize for the way you are handling things, and remember that those close to you may be having a harder time than they are letting on.
3) Come up with a game plan for telling others
Coping with a miscarriage is hard enough in and of itself, but if you told other people you were expecting, there will come a time when you have to tell them what happened. This can be incredibly difficult as it often feels as though you are re-living the experience over and over again, and while some people find it therapeutic to talk through their loss, others would prefer not to. If you are struggling with the idea of sharing your miscarriage with others, consider sending a group email so you only have to discuss it once, or ask your spouse or someone else close to you to deliver the news for you.
4) Ask for physical help
If you miscarried later on in your pregnancy and need to let your body heal and/or you simply don’t feel up to household chores as you work through your emotions, enlist the help of others! Remember that most people want to help when the ones they love are in pain. Giving friends and family a list of things to do will make them feel useful.
5) Brace yourself for hurtful comments
While you’re coping with a miscarriage, you’ll probably hear people say hurtful things like, ‘everything happens for a reason’, ‘at least it happened early’, ‘maybe your body knew something was wrong with the baby’, or ‘at least you know you can get pregnant’. People make these kinds of statements to offer hope and support because they simply don’t know what else to say, but they often end up doing the exact opposite, leaving you feeling angry, sad, and guilty. Spend some time preparing yourself for these kinds of conversations if you can, and think of how you will react. Oftentimes saying nothing (or walking away) is the best thing for everyone.
6) Join a support group
Whether it’s reaching out to friends and family members who have experienced a miscarriage, finding a local support group, or joining an online forum, surrounding yourself with people who understand what you are going through can be incredibly helpful during your recovery. Talking with someone who has firsthand experience with what you are experiencing will help you feel less alone, and allow you to share your thoughts, feelings, and fears unapologetically.
7) Educate yourself
Another tip that can be incredibly helpful to those who are coping with a miscarriage is to take the time to educate yourself about miscarriages and what the next steps look like. I found it comforting to know that miscarriages are very common as it helped alleviate the feelings of guilt and responsibility that were weighing me down, and having a realistic discussion with my doctor about when we could start trying again and what steps we could take to avoid another miscarriage gave me hope. Spend some time writing down all of the things you are struggling with the most as it relates to your miscarriage and research and talk to people to help you feel more in control.
8) Take a break from things that remind you of your loss
I found it really hard to see pregnancy and birth announcements on social media after my own miscarriage, and it seemed like there were pregnant women on every street corner. Avoiding the world is obviously not a healthy option, but taking a break from Facebook and Instagram as well as social commitments that center around children can help during your recovery after a miscarriage.
9) Seek professional help
Coping with a miscarriage isn’t easy, and if you find yourself struggling to come to terms with what happened and are experiencing intense feelings of grief, there is no shame in asking for help. Let me repeat myself: THERE IS NO SHAME IN ASKING FOR HELP. No matter how early or late in a pregnancy a miscarriage occurs, a loss is a loss, and sometimes you need to put your hand up and admit you can’t get through it on your own. Remember that your hormones are also all out of whack, so the sooner you are open and honest with your struggles, the better.
10) Give yourself closure
While some people would prefer to put their miscarriage(s) behind them, others find it helpful to find a way to mark the experience as a form of closure. The one-year mark often seems to be the hardest, and finding a way to honor your loss can be incredibly therapeutic. You might indulge in a little self-care that day, organize a special outing with your significant other, or do something more profound like plant special flowers or a tree.
Coping with a miscarriage can be a very difficult and lonely experience, and while nothing can remove the feelings of loss and grief you are experiencing, I hope these tips help you move through your grief and make sense of it all. Remember to allow yourself to feel all the feels unapologetically, to ask for physical and emotional help, and to consider doing something special to bring yourself closure.
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