Coping with a Miscarriage

One of out three pregnancies ends in a miscarriage. Although miscarriages are common, the loss of a pregnancy can be very distressing to a woman and her partner. The distress can be influenced by the meaning of the pregnancy to the couple, each partner’s personal history, the couples experience with medical providers during the pregnancy, the couples experiences with the fertility process, etc. Below are some common issues for women and their partners when they experience a miscarriage:

Frustration with the Medical Community—Remember your doctors primary concern is your physical health. This may come off as hurtful during such an emotional time. In addition, the medical terminology doctors use when talking about a miscarriage (such as referring to the baby as a “fetus” or “passed tissue”) may come off as confusing and cold. If you feel unsure about what your doctor is saying ask for clarification. If you feel too overwhelmed to ask the doctor for more information, have your partner or another supportive family member or friend ask on your behalf.

Complicated Grief—Advanced ultrasound technology creates an opportunity for early bonding experiences. Many women and their partners find that this can sometimes complicate the grief process. Remind yourself that it is normal to have felt bonded to your baby even if it was very early in your pregnancy. There is a misconception that the duration of the pregnancy is related to the level of grief. However, research shows that level of grief is more closely related to the meaning given to the pregnancy. Also keep in mind that it is also normal for women and their partners to experience this grief differently. Be patient with yourself and your partner. It is normal to take a few steps forward, then a few steps back when grieving. When ready, it may be helpful to share your feelings of grief with your partner, a supportive family member or friend, or a counselor.

Dealing with Feelings of Self-Blame and Guilt—Women and their partners receive more information than ever from their doctors, family, friends and the media about what to expect during pregnancy. While there are benefits to this, women’s behaviors during their pregnancy are now often looked at with much scrutiny, not only by others, but by themselves. After a miscarriage women and/or their partners may feel riddled with guilt over exercising, traveling, having sex, eating certain foods, etc. while they were pregnant. Many of behaviors and activities that women worry caused the miscarriage are safe and healthy to engage in while pregnant. To reduce feelings of blame and guilt get reliable information from your OB/GYN.

Not Knowing How to Cope—After a miscarriage it is common to experience anxiety, depression, anger, confusion or hopelessness after a miscarriage. Furthermore it is also common for the emotions that you and your partner after a miscarriage to be different. Remember that what might be effective for you in coping with the loss may be different for your partner—this is okay. Be patient with each other and understand that it is okay for each of you to cope with the loss differently. If you find yourself still struggling with how to cope with the loss it could be helpful to speak to a counselor.