Miscarriages are never happy news, but they happen. The most important thing is try understand that a miscarriage doesn’t signify the end of your life as a parent. Having a miscarriage once doesn’t raise your odds of having a miscarriage again. Many people who have been through a miscarriage go on to experience healthy and happy pregnancies.
What’s a Miscarriage?
Miscarriage is defined as a pregnancy that ends before the 20th week, while the baby is still too young to survive outside the womb. Causes of miscarriage can include problems with the mother’s uterus or placenta, or abnormalities in the baby’s development.
In most cases, the cause of miscarriage remains unknown.
Medical supervision throughout pregnancy is key to a healthy birth. Additionally, there are certain symptoms that may be indicators for miscarriage – any pregnant woman who experiences these warning signs should consult a physician immediately:
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Passing blood clots
- Moderate or severe cramping
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Chills or fever of 100.4 ̊F (38 ̊C) or higher
The physical and emotional pains of miscarriage make a woman more dependent on family and friends. It’s helpful if she and her support group know what to expect following a miscarriage.
Physical effects include:
- Vaginal bleeding for about a week, often followed by a time of lighter bleeding or spotting
- Pain similar to menstrual cramps
- Breast sensitivity
Emotional effects of miscarriage vary among women and often take longer to heal than their physical counterparts. It’s common to experience extreme sadness, anger, guilt and anxiety about future pregnancies.
There is no “typical” time frame for emotional recovery – every woman experiences the grieving process in her own way and travels the road to healing at her own pace.
While it’s important to allow time and personal “space” for grieving, if the grief becomes too overwhelming – leading to a more serious episode of depression and despondency – it may be necessary to get professional help.
Fathers, too, are profoundly affected by the loss of a child. Unfortunately, a common misconception regarding miscarriage and stillbirth is that only the mother is affected.
Women often feel more freedom to cry and express their grief, whereas men tend to feel pressure to “remain strong” and may busy themselves with work or other activities in an effort to deal with their grief.
Because men and women typically express their emotions and process their grief differently, it’s important for both parents to communicate their feelings to one another, helping to avoid the added pain of misunderstandings.
How should you move on from a miscarriage and begin to heal from sadness and grief? Here are some tips:
1. Don’t blame yourself
The most common reasons women miscarry are missing pieces of genetic information in the fertilised egg or improper implantation of the baby into the uterine lining.
Women don’t miscarry because they ate something they shouldn’t have, or didn’t take folic acid or get enough rest. Miscarriage is nature’s way of making sure that when you do have a baby, it has the best chance for a healthy life. Though it may feel like it, it’s not a punishment.
2. Accept your grief
You may feel tired, depressed, anxious, isolated – there is a whole range of natural emotions. Your readjusting hormones can contribute to your painful feelings.
3. Give yourself time to heal
And don’t be surprised if the emotions continue to resurface. The death of a child is a tremendous loss no matter when in the child’s life it occurs.
4. Talk about your struggles
Tell your partner how you feel. Though he may express his emotions differently, he has experienced the same tragic loss you have and is suffering from many of the same feelings.
Share the story with friends as you feel comfortable; you’ll be surprised how many similar miscarriage stories you’ll hear that you never knew about. And if you feel you need more help, ask your obstetrician about pregnancy loss groups in your area or consult a licensed therapist.
5. Memorialise your child
Giving your child a name, holding a memorial service at home or writing the day it happened on your calendar are all ways you may choose to help deal with your grief in a tangible way.
6. Don’t be afraid to try again
Having a miscarriage doesn’t mean you’ll have another. In fact, your odds of having a miscarriage don’t increase after you’ve had one; they’re just the same as they were the first time around.
Wait until you’re emotionally ready to plan for another pregnancy, then consult your doctor to find out if your body has had enough time to heal. Most women who have lost a child due to miscarriage go on to experience healthy and happy pregnancies.
This article was extracted by Focus on the Family Malaysia with permission. To find out more about Focus on the Family Malaysia, please contact +603-7954 7920 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit Focus on the Family Malaysia’s website or Facebook page to learn more.
BY CHRISTI BEAR AND LISA BROCK