How to Cope with the Pain of Having a Miscarriage
Here experts give us the lowdown on what to expect after a miscarriage and how to cope with the loss.
How a Miscarriage Can Affect Your Relationship
Couples who miscarry are 22 percent more likely to split than those who have successful pregnancies. A miscarriage unites some pairs—and tears others apart. “A woman may feel like her partner can’t truly understand her experience, and recede into herself,” says psychiatrist Dr. Amanda Itzkoff. This can make significant others feel as if they’ve lost a spouse as well as a pregnancy, especially if the would-be birth mother starts to shy away from sex out of fear of miscarrying again, or because intimacy reminds her of how she got pregnant in the first place. Conflicts can also arise when a duo has mismatched coping methods (e.g., one person is outwardly sad and the other deals with it more privately).
Then there’s the blame factor. The miscarrying woman may fault her body for failing her; her partner may assign blame (“You shouldn’t have been working out”). Both can breed resentment.
Be aware that you and your partner may process grief differently and may not always be in the same place at the same time. If you are fighting or feel disconnected, or if your sex drive doesn’t bounce back in a month or two, you may want to try couples counselling—even just one session, says Itzkoff. Particularly if you’ve been referred for genetic testing, therapy can be crucial in helping deal with any emotional fallout or the news that one or both parties has a genetic issue.
If an ultrasound confirms that you’ve miscarried, stock up on pads (no tampons or menstrual cups – they can introduce bacteria to your open cervix) and ibuprofen. If you’re around six or fewer weeks along, your body will likely expel foetal and placental tissue on its own. It will look and feel like a very heavy period with cramping that can range from light to labour-like contractions that can last up to three weeks. For later miscarriages, losses that don’t resolve on their own and miscarriages in which all pregnancy-related tissue doesn’t come out (your doc can figure this out with a blood test), you’ll need a dilation and a D&C. During this outpatient procedure, you’ll be given anesthesia and your ob-gyn will dilate your cervix and clean out your uterus. After, unless there’s a rare complication, most women experience a few days of light spotting and minor cramping.
After most pregnancy losses, it’s safe to try again as soon as you get your next period (usually within a month of the miscarriage), with no increased risk of miscarrying again. But as always, get the green light from your obstetric-gynaecologist first. – Dr Jane Frederick, obstretric-gynaecologist
With miscarriage, there’s no standard “stages of grief.” It’s normal to feel shock, denial and sadness, in any order, no matter how far along you were. These emotions will likely come in waves that may continue for years, even if you go on to have a healthy pregnancy.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a real risk: any time you’re pregnant, for any length of time, the pregnancy hormones that contribute to PPD are there; the sudden drop can leave you feeling depressed. Anticipate emotional triggers that may make this worse, like your would-be due date. If social situations like a friend’s baby shower or a first birthday party spark sadness, explain and bow out or feign a family obligation. Just don’t isolate yourself too much, since it can increase symptoms of depression like fatigue, listlessness, and sadness. If grief impairs your daily functioning (example your ability to work or care for kids or yourself), seek out a therapist with miscarriage counselling experience. Some women find it comforting to hold a ceremony memorialising the loss. Wait until you’re mentally ready before trying to get pregnant again. – Dr Rebecca Kennedy, psychologist
Finding The Right Words
We understand: no one knows what to say to a friend who miscarries. But ignoring it can minimise her experience, while seemingly reassuring statements (“You can always try again”) can compound pain, says Dr Jessica Zucker. The solution: these honest, relatable phrases…
- I’m always here.
- I’m deeply sorry for your loss.
- Call me morning, noon or night.
- I love you like crazy.
- I imagine you feel like sh*t right now, but I just had to remind you how wonderful you are.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com