Having a miscarriage is devasting. You have lost a baby and where ever it was in its development when you miscarried, you will need to allow yourself to grieve for that life and work out how to move forward without that baby. In this article I am going to share 6 tips to help you do this.
1. Remember you can conceive.
You will hear this a lot and it will do little to console you. However, it is important to find a way to hold on to this fact. For many women miscarriage is a part of having a family. With 1 in 3 pregnancies ending in miscarriage most women who have had 2 or more children will have experienced at least one. Miscarriage is nature’s way of ensuring the survival of the human race by allowing only the strongest and healthiest pregnancies to continue. Unexplained miscarriage is therefore not a sign that something is wrong, it is a sign that your body is functioning as it should and that next time you are more likely than not to carry a healthy baby to term. The statistics bear this out:
- Miscarriage is usually a one-time occurrence.
- Most women who miscarry go on to have a healthy pregnancy after miscarriage. Less than 5% of women have two consecutive miscarriages, and only 1% have three or more consecutive miscarriages.
2. Understand how you are feeling
When we experience a loss, a series of well documented stages are triggered that are designed by nature to help us to cope with that loss and adapt to the new reality that we face. These are:
This is usually the first stage of the grieving process. You will feel numb until your mind is able to begin processing your loss.
One of the first things you will feel is anger directed at those close to you, medical professionals and/or yourself. Anger is however a sign that the healing process has started.
This is where we attempt to rewrite history, a way of staying in the past because the present is too painful. It is the ‘If only I had…’ stage.
Feelings of depression are a sign that we have moved into the present and are beginning to adapt to the loss and reconfigure our lives with our new future in our sights.
When we discover a way to accept our loss we will still feel it and the sadness that the memory brings but we will no longer be consumed by it. When we reach this stage we will also be able to reconnect with the world and hold on to what it still has to offer us.
You won’t pass through these stages in a strict ‘one after the other’ order but will jump back and forth between them for as long as your mind needs you to. Try to trust that human beings are built to tolerate and adapt to loss however intolerable loss can sometimes feel. Notice your changing feelings and take comfort from the fact that they mean you are on the path to a place where your loss will feel bearable.
For specific tips on coping with grief:
3. Harness your grief
Harness your negative emotions and direct them towards something positive that will give you a sense of purpose and well-being. It may be as straightforward as getting your mind and body as balanced and healthy as possible in preparation for another pregnancy.
4. Keep your mind focused
Keep your mind focused on what is happening now and try to resist the urge to make predictions about what might happen in the future, particularly catastrophic ones. To keep your mind present, practice meditation which research has shown to be extremely helpful in managing distress and other negative emotions. And, fill your day with routines and tasks that give you a sense of pleasure and achievement, this will give you stability and structure, and help you to reconnect to what the world still has to offer you.
5. Trust your body
The amazing thing is that as soon as you have stopped bleeding your body will begin preparing for another baby and approximately 14 days later your ovaries will release an egg, a potential life has already begun. The advice regarding when to try for another baby following a miscarriage varies, from waiting 1 cycle to up to 6, however, the fact remains that your body is designed to try again immediately. There is something inherently reassuring about this and how, no matter what, life will find a way. Try to hold on to this fact and trust your body, nature has designed you to make a baby and you will, just not necessarily on your timetable.
6. A different way to think about it
This applies particularly if you have had more than 1 miscarriage. A study published in the journal PLoS ONE offers a different way of thinking about recurrent miscarriage. The study suggests that some women’s wombs are too good at letting embryos implant and will accept all embryos including the poor-quality ones that other women would reject. The study concludes that in these cases ‘super fertility’ is responsible for unexplained recurrent miscarriage. So, while a woman with a more selective womb may wait 18 months to conceive, a ‘super fertile’ woman may conceive multiple times during that period and miscarry on each occasion. Both women may eventually carry a healthy baby to term, but each goes through a different kind of pain and frustration along the way. So instead of thinking ‘there’s something wrong with me’ instead think ‘my body is too good at this’.
All the evidence suggests it is more likely than not that your baby will be with you soon, just not as soon as you had hoped.
Click here to read a real-life story of coping with miscarriage.