The whole journey starts at two pink lines. A positive test. You're pregnant. There is a tiny human the size of a poppy seed growing inside of you. For some, an instant connection is formed. For others, emotions ranging from excitement to fear to panic to disbelief begin rapidly firing through your body. Regardless, you flash forward to childbirth, nurseries, baby names, the first day of school, wedding days, first jobs, etc. You picture the life to come of this little poppy seed. You picture meeting them.
You don't imagine hearing, "It could be that you're not as far along as we thought," or "I'm having a hard time finding the heartbeat."
You don't anticipate unexpected bleeding, the gut-wrenching feeling of your body betraying you, or feeling like you've failed already, so soon into motherhood.
You don't expect to be telling everyone, "Remember when I said I was pregnant? Well, I'm not anymore."
For one in eight women, this is the reality. But there's not anything that has prepared them for this reality and all that comes with it. Here's what they—and all the people that love and care about them—need to know.
Going through a miscarriage is a traumatic experience.
A miscarriage is loss, resulting in intense grief. You are grieving the loss of the baby, the loss of your pregnancy, the loss of trust in your body to do this, the loss of everything you planned and dreamed for your life with your new baby.
Miscarriage can trigger a range of mental health symptoms.
Biologically, your body is going through the postpartum phase, complete with fluctuating hormone levels, postpartum bleeding, and in some cases, lactation. The combination of the physical and emotional symptoms can be overwhelming.
You may feel all alone and that no one can understand.
A feeling of isolation, being alone in this, can result in withdrawing from others. It seems like no one—not friends, significant others, family—could ever know how this feels or make anything better.
TIPS FOR COPING WITH MISCARRIAGE
You are not alone.
First and foremost, it is important to know you are not alone, leaning on your support network is vital and help is available.
- Find a support group. Others who have gone through a miscarriage will help you feel less alone and be able to relate to your feelings. Ask your doctor to recommend area groups or check with Postpartum Support International's list on online support meetings.
- Attend outpatient therapy. If you can, find one who specializes in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD), grief and loss, and/or miscarriage. Pine Rest currently has 28 therapists specializing in PMAD.
- Rely on friends and loved ones for help and a sympathetic ear.
- Seek spiritual guidance.
Allow yourself time to heal.
You may have a variety of symptoms and feelings after a miscarriage including exhaustion, lack of appetite, anger, shock, sadness, guilt, anxiety and/or depression. Your hormones are changing, too, which can intensify your feelings. These feelings are normal.
- Give yourself space to feel your emotions.
- Be gracious as your body physically recovers.
- Take care of your body by resting, hydrating and eating healthy.
- Ease back into exercise routines as approved by medical professionals.
Allow your partner relationship to heal.
A miscarriage is a loss experienced by both the pregnant mom and the partner, as well as a loss to their relationship. It is important to give this relationship time to heal by talking about how you each are feeling and remaining open and respectful about how your partner is grieving. Remember to lean into one another for support and spend time enjoying one another's company again.
Consider a way to honor the loss.
When there is a death, typically a memorial service or funeral is held in their honor. It can be part of the healing process to find a way to honor or memorialize the loss of your baby, too. Some options to consider:
- Create a memory box with purchased baby clothes, hospital bracelets, the positive pregnancy test, a plaque with the name of the baby and a sonogram.
- Purchase a piece of jewelry, such as a ring, bracelet or necklace to wear in honor of the baby.
- Plant a tree, perennial flower or purchase decor for a memorial garden.
Written by Sarah DeYoung, LMSW, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.
Courtesy of Pine Rest Christina Mental Health Services.
Photo Courtesy of Pint Rest Christian Mental Health Services.