A miscarriage can be an incredibly painful and disappointing experience that is not often talked about in our culture, despite the frequency and commonality of the experience. Pregnancy loss under 20 weeks is called a miscarriage (after 20 weeks, it is called a fetal demise), which carries a strange stigma as the word implies some kind of failure. However, a miscarriage (or pregnancy loss) is a rather common reality for many women. Studies reveal that 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. The causes for a miscarriage vary but are usually due to chromosomal abnormality. Understanding that the loss of a pregnancy is a grieving process is the first step in processing it. Here is some real mom advice in handling this painful time.
- Allow. This simple word can give you the process of surrender which can come in a series of waves. First, there is the letting go physically as your body releases the fetus through heavy bleeding. There is a very tangible reality to the process that can feel overwhelmingly traumatic. The continual surrender to the fluctuations and dips in the hormones in the body is another process that can feel overwhelming. But on top of all this is the heartbreak of disappointment and very real grief of losing a child who you started to love and yet never met. Allow your grief, allow your mourning, and allow the process.
- Don’t blame yourself or focus on failure. To truly heal from the pain of a miscarriage, we only do more harm when we blame ourselves or entertain feelings that we have somehow failed. A loss of pregnancy is a common thing that is not often shared and therefore, carries some kind of stigma. Understanding all of the factors involved, most of which are out of our control, can be a start in the process of healing and going on to have a perfectly viable pregnancy next time.
- Remember the silver lining. If you got pregnant, you know you can get pregnant again. This sounds like sugar coating, but it’s actually a big point. Women who are not able to have children, don’t often have miscarriages. The fact that you were able to conceive is a good sign that it will happen successfully again.
- Talk about it. Really. Share your story. Tell anyone you feel safe with. Let others know you are mourning something major. Family and friends can be there for us during this time if we ask for their support and help. There is no need to suffer in silence, and there is certainly no shame in being open about your loss and being real about your circumstance. This may give someone else permission to share their vulnerabilities with you in the future. Be clear about what you are feeling, and seek counseling if you feel depressed or a need to process it with a professional.
- Don’t talk about it. Your way of handling grief and sadness may be to go within and be quiet about it. If this is your preference, truly honor it. Write about it, meditate on it, cry in the shower. Allow yourself a grieving process that feels right for you. There is no right or wrong way to handle the pain of a miscarriage, but make a clear conscious choice so that you may move on to a place where you can move beyond it.