Moving Forward After Miscarriage

empty bassinet on floorMiscarriage: It is a word that carries a lot of negative emotion. It is what many pregnant women fear, and something most of us do not want to think about. It is not an uncommon occurrence—according to the American Pregnancy Association, 10-25% of confirmed pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Most of us either know someone who has experienced a miscarriage, or have experienced it firsthand.

In my trauma work with clients, I have observed that the loss of an unborn child is a significant trauma that has lasting effects for the person who lost the baby and that person’s families. Bringing attention to this issue is very important, so that people know they do not have to suffer alone and know what they can do to move forward.

Common Feelings After Miscarriage

After a miscarriage, it is common to feel an overwhelming number of emotions with high intensity. Emotions may fluctuate frequently, and it may feel like riding a roller coaster. A woman and her family may feel an intense feeling of loss. Hormone fluctuations and changes can further intensify emotions and mood swings.

The trauma of the loss can manifest both emotionally and physically. Physical cramping, pressure, and pain, even months and years after the loss, are not uncommon. Depression may set in and the woman and family members may notice a decrease in mood and ability to participate in once-pleasurable activities. Relationships may suffer, as both partners and their family members may feel a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, not knowing what to do to improve or fix the situation.

Anxiety about trying to get pregnant again is also very common, which can manifest with fear connected to having another miscarriage or not being able to conceive again. Once a woman does conceive after miscarriage, anxiety can become even more intense. Some clients have compared going through pregnancy after miscarriage to holding your breath for a very long time in anticipation that something bad might happen. Overanalyzing aches, pains, and body changes during another pregnancy can also contribute to increased anxiety as the woman continues to fear and worry that miscarriage may happen again.

It is an experience that can be draining and taxing. Even people with a brilliant ability to cope with hardship may find that they are brought to their knees when experiencing such a significant loss. The good news is that there is hope to move forward.

Moving Forward

First and foremost, talk about it! Everyone connected to the person who experienced the miscarriage may feel a sense of loss. Talking to each other is essential. Don’t push away the emotions; instead see them for what they are—a vital part of the healing process. In a previous article, I wrote about the importance of allowing oneself to experience emotions after trauma. Miscarriage is no different. Fighting the emotions will only prolong healing and moving forward.

Consider keeping a journal of your experience. Journaling is one of the most cathartic experiences and can promote healing.

Be sure you are communicating with your doctor about your symptoms. After such a traumatic experience, the body experiences major changes. Some of the symptoms need to be addressed medically. It has been my experience that some women will ignore their symptoms and continue behaving as if they are Superwoman. This can eventually lead to more problems, as prolonged stress can take a very negative physical toll. What you are experiencing is valid and taking care of your physical health is extremely important.

Focus on self-care activities, even if you don’t want to. When depression and anxiety set it, they can decrease our motivation to do things we know are healthy and helpful. Participate in self-care regularly and deliberately. Take time in your busy schedule to ensure that you are caring for yourself appropriately.

Seek help. I have had tremendous success in utilizing EMDR and other treatment modalities to treat women and their loved ones after miscarriage. The sooner you can get help, the better. On that same note, it is never too late to get help. Even if it has been a long time since the miscarriage, therapy can still be very helpful and effective in helping you heal.

What Family Members Can Do

Don’t try to fix the situation. Many times, loved ones want to make the pain go away, which only ends up invalidating the feelings and grief process of the person in pain. Ultimately, this can stifle the healing process. Allow all parties involved to experience their feelings related to the loss. The best things you can do are listening and validating what they are feeling.

Participate in the healing process. This loss has affected you, too, so be sure you are talking about your own emotions and experiences. Participate in journal keeping, self-care activities, and getting help yourself, since depression, anxiety, and trauma can affect you as well. Participating in these activities can be very encouraging to the person who experienced the miscarriage and can help them feel that they are not alone in their grief.

Don’t minimize the loss. Miscarriage is just like any other loss: it is painful, and people take time to heal. Face the pain and together you can heal and move forward.

Reference:

American Pregnancy Association (2011, November). Miscarriage. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/miscarriage.html.

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Anastasia Pollock, LCMHC, therapist in Midvale, Utah

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Chloe

    Chloe

    November 19th, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    It’s hard, I can tell you that much. My sister has had several miscarriages and it never gets easier. She is always so hopeful that she can get this one to term but for her and her husband it hasn’t happened yet. But we still have so much hope because this is all she has ever wabted, to be a mom. She knows that there are other possibilites like adoption out there for them but I think that she wants to exhaust all of her own possibilities before she moves on to another chance like that. All I can do is be there to love and support her, not to even begin to pretend that I know what she is going through but sometimes I think just letting someone know that you can be there person to break down with, that’s enough.

  • cheryl lynne

    cheryl lynne

    November 20th, 2013 at 4:37 AM

    The very worst thing that anyone could ever say was that this was menat to be or God’s will. How do we know that? How is that right of us to try to invalidate the feelings and emotions that someone is experiencing after a loss like this?

  • Blake

    Blake

    November 21st, 2013 at 5:55 AM

    This is always such a tough call because if you know about the miscarriage this means that not only have you probably shared in some of the happiest information that the couple has ever shared when they tell everyone that they are pregnant, but now you are also having to share in some of the saddest news that they have ever received. You natuarlly want to help and want there to be the right words to give them some comfort but just like any grieving process, this has to be about the individual couple and allowing them to work it out in the way that feels the most comfortable for them.

  • talia

    talia

    November 22nd, 2013 at 4:49 AM

    Let’s not forget about the men who go through this with their wives.

    Often their needs are overlooked because everyone is concerned about the female, and that is easy to see, but many times the men are grieving just as much and their feelings are so many times ignored and they are forced to deal with this on their own.

  • Kimberly D

    Kimberly D

    November 23rd, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    Unfortunately there us nothing that anyone can say or do that can help you get through something tragic like this, it is something that the couple will have to work on together. It is sad but knowing that it doesn’t have to be the end of your dreams is very much worth remembering. I know that there have to be tons of emotions that someone goes through when miscarriage happens- but as long as you don’t shut everone out, there are people who can help you get through it.

  • Anastasia Pollock

    Anastasia Pollock

    December 12th, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    So many great points! I agree that it is difficult to know what to say to someone who is going through such a loss. I think Chloe said it very well when she said that all she can do is to be present for her sister, letting her know she is loved and supported. I also agree that we can’t forget the men who also go through the grieving process with the loss of a pregnancy. Their feelings and grief process is just as valid and they also need support.

    Thank you all for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  • rebecca

    rebecca

    August 13th, 2014 at 4:17 AM

    I am going thru a miscarriage I dont know what im feeling sad angry hurt lost. Ive never experienced so many emotions all at once. My heart goes out to anyone who is going thru this or has been thru it. Take care everyone x

  • Precious

    Precious

    June 7th, 2017 at 2:38 PM

    A miscarriage is devastating on so many levels for women. I really appreciate that you mentioned talking to someone and moving forward. Pushing away the emotions and locking those feelings away can make it worse. In my personal opinion, after something that tragic, counselling may be a good idea for mother’s who have miscarried.

  • Siphosethu

    Siphosethu

    October 15th, 2017 at 10:51 AM

    Having to be at a place you don’t want to be at is overwhelming; a place of sorrow and pain, hurt and disappointment.

  • barbara

    barbara

    January 16th, 2018 at 10:13 AM

    i just went through a miscarriage during the christmas breakphysical part i am fine.Emotionally im still going through the stages. Not as much as i was two weeks ago. I feel myself getting better,

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