Coping with miscarriage

Although miscarriage is a reasonably common event – one in four women will experience it – coping psychologically with a miscarriage can be far from easy. Having a pregnancy confirmed is often a time of exquisite joy, especially if a couple has been trying to conceive. Emotions, dreams, planning and excitement all start building from the moment a pregnancy test is found to be positive. But just as quickly, this can all turn to disappointment when a miscarriage occurs.

What Will Happen Now?

Depending on the stage of gestation, how a miscarriage is managed may vary. If it occurred very early on and has been diagnosed as “complete”, then dilatation and curettage (D & C) may not be necessary. However, this is usually attended after a woman has a miscarriage, as it helps to clear all of the products of conception and reduce the risk of infection and prolonged bleeding.

One of the issues with miscarriage is that it is often seen as a medical issue rather than an emotional one. In the first trimester of pregnancy, the baby is still referred to as “the embryo” or “foetus”, rather than “the baby”. Though for expectant parents, it has already become a baby and not simply a group of tissues with the potential to become one. In the rush to deal with the medical management of bleeding, ultrasounds and confirmation of miscarriage, it can be easy to overlook the emotional side. Grief when a pregnancy is lost is not proportional to the weeks of gestation. You have a right to grieve for your own unique baby in your own unique way. Avoid feeling you need to justify this to anyone, even yourself. Grief has a biological basis and is deeply influenced by our life experiences and expectations, hopes and fears.

Recognising the feelings of loss and grief which parents may be experiencing is somehow easier when a baby has been stillborn or lost within the 2nd or 3rd trimesters of pregnancy. But even though the pregnancy may not have progressed for as long, the intensity of sadness may be just as real. We are all unique and comparing ourselves with others is generally not useful.

What Can Help?

It may sound like an old clich

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