Coping with miscarriage
A miscarriage is the term given to any pregnancy that ends prior to twenty weeks' gestation. There are many potential causes of miscarriage; most are due to the fetus not being healthy. Sometimes it may be a problem with the mother's health. Regardless of why the miscarriage has occurred, it is important to mourn the loss of the child that "could have been."
Why did this happen?
When a woman discovers she is pregnant, her mind already begins racing with the way in which her life will change. As the pregnancy progresses, she will also begin to imagine what her child will look and act like. A miscarriage is most common until ten weeks' gestation. When a miscarriage occurs this early, it is usually due to chromosomal abnormalities. This could be from either the sperm or the egg or from them not joining properly. Sadly, there is nothing that can be done to save a pregnancy this early. The grief of miscarriage is very real even this early in pregnancy.
After the ten week mark, it may be possible to find conclusive reasons why a miscarriage occurred. This would involve saving the unborn fetus or fetal tissue for examination. This can seem overwhelming to the bereaved parents, but it is a good idea to rule out any genetic deficiencies. It is comforting to many bereaved parents to know that it is unlikely that they would experience a miscarriage more than once unless genetic abnormalities are present.
Other people's responses are not always helpful
The most difficult part of coping with miscarriage is having to tell and listen to the responses of other people. A bereaved parent is dealing with tremendous grief and having to explain a miscarriage and not knowing its cause is very difficult. Then having to constantly hear expressions such as "You can have more children later," or "You can try again soon," or "The timing just wasn't right," can make the grieving process even more difficult. A bereaved parent needs to mourn the loss of the unborn child before considering the possibility of having another child.
Remember that you are not alone
It is estimated that almost every woman will experience a miscarriage in her lifetime, although most will occur before she even misses her period. This also means that there are a lot of other women who have had to mourn the loss of an unborn child. The bereaved parents are not alone. As with any form of grief, it is important to find support.
This may be in the form of a support group of women who have experienced the death of an unborn child, or by joining an online support group of women with similar experiences. It also helps to discuss the loss with a partner as well as close friends and family. Keeping emotions locked in will only make it more difficult to recover. It's also important to remember that men, too, grieve the loss of their unborn child. Their feelings should never be overlooked or ignored.
How long will it take to recover from a miscarriage?
Recovery may not be easy. It also varies depending on how far along the pregnancy was when the miscarriage occurred. A very early miscarriage may be easy to recover from since many women try to not become too attached until the first trimester has ended. After a miscarriage, a woman is very fertile. The next time she ovulates, she has the ability to become pregnant quite easily.
This may be a comfort to some women who want to become pregnant again right away. A miscarriage that occurs later during the pregnancy will probably cause a more difficult recovery, as the loss is more traumatic both physically and emotionally. A woman will need to take the time to mourn her loss before considering conceiving again.
Every man and woman has a different experience with miscarriage and the grief it brings. The bond between parent and child is one that begins in the womb; a loss is a loss regardless of when it occurs. Miscarriage is a dreadful experience, but you will recover and eventually you will feel better. You may never forget the child that could have been, but the pain will ease with time.
Further sources of information
You may find our other articles in the Children: coping with the death of a child section helpful too.
Visit our Amazon store to find books on coping with miscarriage.