Pregnancy is an exciting time of joy and expectancy, yet when a woman discovers that she has miscarried, her whole world can be turned upside down. Regardless of the fact that mother and child have never met face to face, there is a bond that forms, and it’s difficult to get through this experience without a bit of help and support.
It is understandable to feel all sorts of emotions after a miscarriage—grief, fear, anger, denial, loss…..all of these are normal and expected responses to such a large loss. Not knowing why it happened to what to expect next make a miscarriage even harder to deal with. Remember that your reaction is right and appropriate for you, and keeping friends, family members, and healthcare professionals in the loop about what you are thinking and feeling will help you get through it to see life with some sense of peace on the other side.
What is a miscarriage? Why do they happen?
A miscarriage happens when an embryo or fetus is ejected from the womb before 20 weeks gestation. A first sign that this might be happening is heavy bleeding, cramping, or abdominal pain. Quite often, a miscarriage is the body’s way of letting you know that the fetus was not viable, or it would have had significant health problems after delivery that would have made life outside the womb extremely difficult. Depending on how far along a pregnancy is, this process can take anywhere from a day to 3-4 weeks; keeping your health care professional informed about your symptoms will be essential as you work together to determine what happened.
If you suspect that you are experiencing or have experienced a miscarriage, it is important to see your healthcare practitioner right away. You may need an ultrasound and cervical exam to confirm that a miscarriage has taken place. In some cases, your practitioner may draw blood to check your hCG levels to determine how much blood was lost, and make make recommendations on how to make future pregnancies successful. Some mothers need a shot that will help rH negative blood compatible with that of their unborn children. Taking this important step may help safeguard future pregnancies from miscarriage.
Emptying your uterus
Depending on how your body has experienced a miscarriage, you may pass tissue naturally or you may need additional assistance emptying the uterus. This is an emotionally and physically exhausting process for both mother and partner; make sure you gather the support of family and friends around you as you go through procedures that are needed to clean your uterus and prevent future infection. If your body does not release the embryo and tissues naturally, there may be a need for additional interventions, such as medication or even surgery, to prevent further complications. It is important that you take care of yourself physically and emotionally at this time to help facilitate the recovery process.
Coping with difficult emotions
It is normal and natural to feel denial, anger, grief, and even resentment after a miscarriage. Women choose to deal with with these difficult emotions in different ways; you have every right to feel and to be able to work through these emotions, as you have suffered a loss. Take your time, feel them, process them, and do what you can to move on, knowing that there will be life again that you can celebrate. You do not have to regret or forget what has happened; it is every bit as real as the loss of a child. Finding support in the form of therapy, supportive family and friends, and working through things with a spouse or partner will be essential pieces for you to be able to pick up and move on once more.
When will I feel normal again?
Give yourself some time. Accept that you have had a significant loss, and you don’t have to forget what has happened. You may feel sad for months or even years after the event; little anniversaries and life experiences may cause you to remember and feel the loss all over again. Over time, your emotions will balance out, and you will feel like there is cause for celebrating life and living again. Try to look at this experience as a lesson in living and learning to appreciate what we have in the moment; there is life after miscarriage, and while you might not become pregnant again right away, you have had a bona fide experience as a mother and child together. Best of luck to you in your future experiences with parenthood–we’re here to support you!
If you would like to learn how to deal with a miscarriage, watch this video: