This article discusses the aspects of pregnancy loss, that are rarely discussed and regretfully experienced by many women. Pregnancy loss is used to describe all kinds of unexpected loss. If this occurs within the first 20 weeks it’s labeled a miscarriage. If it’s experienced after the first 20 weeks, it’s a stillbirth. Miscarriages in the United States affects 1 in 5 women and most occur during the first 13 weeks.
Unfortunately in the world we live in, where the quality of one’s life is determined by their instagram presence, and perfect highlight reels, the painful, utmost emotionally difficult experience of pregnancy loss does not make the cut for most discussion. For some women this is not the first hardship that happens, and it often happens more than once during the process of starting a family. There are plenty of roadblocks along the way. Being able to conceive at all, and challenges with infertility are experienced by many women.
Women are also reluctant to talk about it with friends because they’re often going through a similar life stage, and are pregnant or already have kids. If this is experienced by so many, and it’s felt so deeply, why aren’t we having more conversations about how to heal, and supporting each other? There are so many emotions that can arise - denial, anger, sadness, shock. In this post we discuss how to fully cope with the experience of pregnancy loss and move past it.
The first part of healing is allowing for space to feel. Studies have shown that women experience the same level of grief regardless of what stage of pregnancy they’re in. It’s important to remember that your reaction is entirely your own and nobody can and should tell you how to experience these emotions. Some women say that the feeling of grief is comparable to losing a close family member. Society may not recognize a miscarriage or stillbirth as real loss, but to those affected, it’s very real.
How to deal with your emotions after pregnancy loss
Shock and Denial
You’re not alone if you experience numbness and disbelief, this is part of a normal grieving process. The first emotion that many women experience after a miscarriage or loss is shock. You might be thinking “no, there’s no way” “this wouldn’t happen to me”. You might be in shock because there were no signs anything was wrong. One minute you’re so full of excitement at the thought of being pregnant and the next your reality is shattered. Pregnancy loss comes at a huge shock to some couples and the best way to recover is to take time to process what has happened.
Guilt and Anger
It’s a natural human reaction to try and justify the cause of an occurrence. When such a tragedy occurs you might be thinking you did something wrong to cause you to miscarry or lose the baby. You might be thinking if you were happier or more grateful about the pregnancy, or if you ate healthier and exercised more you’d have a higher chance of avoiding miscarriage. You might be angry or jealous of women around you who are pregnant or have children. When experiencing emotions of guilt and anger, it’s important to let go of any anger or resentment you feel towards yourself and others. This is definitely easier said than done, but the recovering this moment involves letting go of all negative emotions, and it starts to happen when you stop wondering “Why.. Why me, why did this happen, why?”. These questions are common and discouraging. Letting go of guilt and anger is realizing there isn’t always a clear answer to your questions.
Pregnancy loss is one of the most overwhelming and devastating things that can happen to a mother-to-be. The emotions you feel are intense and can be surprising to people who have never experienced what you’ve gone, or are going through. It’s okay to feel sad most of the time. Some women say it feels like a depressive episode where you don’t feel like eating, sleeping or have any interest in your favourite activities. You might find yourself constantly crying and wondering if you’ll ever have a healthy pregnancy and give birth to a healthy child. When feelings of despair come up, it’s important to release. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to feel. Everybody experiences pain differently, remember that.
When someone close to you dies it’s typical to have a funeral and everybody comes together to grieve. There are rituals that every culture has around death. When you experience a miscarriage or stillbirth, you may not want to share that with others. If you do decide to share, family and friends may not know what to say. You may feel like nobody understands you, and you’re alone. Talking about your loss and vocalizing your feelings can help release this emotion.
If you’re thinking about trying to get pregnant again you might feel an element of fear and anxiety. You might be afraid that you’ll experience a miscarriage again, and there might be new complications in the pregancy. You might feel let down by your body and feel a loss of trust and lack of faith in your ability to conceive. Remember, mood swings and fear are normal as after pregnancy loss your hormones will begin to rebalance. Try and reduce anxiety and stress as it can cause imbalances to persist.
Talking with your Partner about MiscarriageGoing through pregnancy loss alone is even more difficult than when you have a loving partner to lean on. Turn to your partner for support, but remember that they may be grieving as well. Everyone experiences grief differently. They may experience a different range of emotions, and may feel resentment that they didn’t connect to the baby in the same way you did. They may feel frustrated that there is nothing they could have done to avoid the situation. In some cases your partner may feel helpless and won’t want to discuss. Rather than trying to protect each other, sharing your feelings, and discussing openly can help both of you heal.
Feeling Normal After Pregnancy Loss
Regardless of what emotions you experience, give yourself time to feel. It’s important to accept that you’ll always feel sadness and have a place in your heart for this hardship. Over time you’ll start to feel better, as you come to terms with it in your own way.
Some women choose to do something special with their partner on a specific day, like the anniversary of the due ate, or the anniversary of the miscarriage. That way you remember the event, but in a positive way, and spend time connecting with your partner.
If you find that time hasn’t helped heal the wound; you become isolated from friends and family, continue to feel anxious or depressed, it might be best for you to find a support group or seek professional counselling.
Getting Pregnant AgainMost doctors recommend waiting at least a few months before trying to get pregnant again. The woman’s body is an incredibly remarkable organism. It can recover quite quickly from a miscarriage or stillbirth. After you’ve had one menstrual cycle, you should be okay to start trying again. We recommend you check with your health care practitioner before making a decision to try and conceive once more.
A study showed that 69% of women have a successful live birth after experiencing pregnancy loss prior. Remember, you can and most likely will become pregnant again. Most women experience a miscarriage only once.