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Grief following a miscarriage

A miscarriage is the loss of a baby before 20 weeks of pregnancy. About 1 in every 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage; some women miscarry without having realised they are pregnant. With the realisation that the pregnancy has ended, the sense of grief and sadness can be overwhelming for both the mother and her partner. However, grief is very personal and although both the mother and her partner share the loss, their experiences may be quite different.

Why Does It Happen?

Miscarriages happen for a range of medical  reasons which your doctor can talk to you about. Often there is no explanation because much is still unknown about the causes of miscarriage. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to explain anything you are uncertain about. It is important to remember that most miscarriages cannot be prevented, and that for most women a second miscarriage is unlikely.

Feelings Of Loss

The loss of a baby at any stage can have a big impact on you, your partner, and your family. One day you are pregnant and planning your future life with your child, and then within a short time your pregnancy ends, and all your dreams and plans are changed.

Your grief may be even harder to bear as your family, friends, and acquaintances may have been unaware of the pregnancy. With this lack of acknowledgment and the absence of memories, it may seem as if your baby never existed which can add another dimension to the feelings of loss and grief.

It is very normal to feel a range of different emotions at this time. These feelings can be very intense and may include:

  • sadness
  • anger
  • irritability
  • disbelief
  • guilt
  • confusion

You may also have:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • dreams/nightmares
  • loss of appetite

It is important to remember you will recover, but you will do it in your own way and in your own time.

Partners

Partners also suffer the loss of dreams and plans for a future with their child. As their experience of the coming baby has been different from that of the mother, their feelings of loss and grief may also be different. Additionally, anxiety for the welfare of their partner can take priority in the short term.

Partners may be unsure how to comfort and help their partner. Talking to each other can help you to be aware of each other’s feelings.

After A Miscarriage

If you need to go to a hospital your stay will probably be very short. Talking to the hospital staff while in hospital may help you to understand what is happening physically and mentally at this time. Discussion may help to ease the feelings of the unknown.

You will need time to recover both physically and emotionally. Although some women find it difficult to face everyday situations and talk to others, other women find talking about their loss and sharing experiences with other women helpful. Other things that people have found helpful:

  • finding someone to talk to who will understand and listen
  • do not expect too much of yourself
  • try to be with the people you feel most comfortable with
  • allow time to grieve, to cry, and to talk about the emotions being experienced
  • for some, contacting a support group such as SANDS and talking to other parents who have had a similar experience can help
  • making a special time to remember the due date of the baby
  • you may wish to find ways to create a memorial to remember the pregnancy eg. planting a bush or writing a poem

Looking Ahead

Future pregnancies may be anxious times although another miscarriage is generally unlikely, speaking with a trusted GP or other help care professional is recommended. In a future pregnancy let others know your fears. Doctors, labour ward staff and family all need to know when they can support you.

Remember, the grief will ease and meanwhile there are many people like doctors, social workers, support groups and extended family who can support you.

Other Resources

SANDS
Emotional support after miscarriage
Beyond Blue
National Twin Loss Support

 

Page last updated: 17 September, 2019

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