How do you heal a broken heart? Coping after miscarriage

October 21, 2016 | by Julie Jensen, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

Losing a baby is heartbreaking no matter when it happens. Sadly, miscarriage is common, occurring in 10-25 percent of all known pregnancies, most often within the first three months of pregnancy.

If you’ve experienced a pregnancy loss, even if the pregnancy ended very early, you may feel more sadness than you ever thought possible.

In the past, a woman may have miscarried and never knew she was pregnant. Today, you can know within hours of conception if you are pregnant, which can make it more difficult when you suffer a loss. You had more time to bond with your baby, and make dreams for the future; and when these dreams get shattered, it can be devastating.

The emotional impact of pregnancy loss often takes longer to heal than the physical impact. You may feel guilt, anger, shock, sadness, numbness and a sense of failure. Many woman have questions.

  1. Did I cause it? Some women worry they did something to cause their pregnancy loss. Don’t blame yourself. This is something that happened to you, not something you did. Most miscarriages happen because the pregnancy was not normal (about half of all cases of early pregnancy loss are due to fetal chromosomal abnormalities).

  2. Can I get pregnant after a miscarriage? At least 85 percent of women who have miscarriages go on to have normal pregnancies and births. Repeated pregnancy losses are rare, and comprise only about 1-2 percent of women. Even still, three out of every four women who've had unexplained recurrent miscarriages go on to have a healthy baby.

  3. How long do I have to wait before I can try to have a baby again? It depends on your unique situation, so talk with your doctor about it. It may be best to wait until after you have a menstrual period before trying to conceive again. Taking time to heal both physically and emotionally after a miscarriage is important.

  4. Can another miscarriage be prevented? Most factors that cause a miscarriage are outside of a woman’s control. A woman has a higher risk of miscarriage if she is over age 35 and has certain medical conditions. For some women with hormone problems, doctors may recommend supplementing with progesterone to try to prevent another miscarriage.

  5. Will I ever feel better? Recovery after a miscarriage involves physical and emotional healing. What can you do to cope with the loss and start feeling better? Try these 6 tips for coping after a miscarriage:
  • Give your body and mind time to heal – Time is often the best healer. Your body needs time to get back to normal, and so does your mind and emotional health. Try to wait a few months before starting a new job, moving to a new home, or other big life changes.
  • Let yourself grieve the loss – Allow yourself to go through the grieving process, from shock, anger, guilt and depression to acceptance. If you feel like you need to cry, then cry. Stop to acknowledge your loss. If your feelings of sadness are long-lasting, talk with your doctor.
  • Take care of yourself – You have been through a traumatic loss, but life must go on. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, eat well and maintain a healthy weight, do something active each day, relax, limit caffeine intake, avoid alcohol and don’t smoke.
  • Get support – When you’re ready, share your feelings with your partner, family and friends. Join a web-based forum with other woman who have gone through pregnancy loss. Talk to a religious or spiritual leader, a counselor or therapist. Join a pregnancy loss support group.
  • Commemorate your baby – It can be tough to move on emotionally without some sort of closure. Have a small ceremony to say goodbye, make a memory box, write a farewell letter, plant a tree to remember your baby, get a special piece of jewelry with a birthstone—whatever feels right for you. Learn about SHARE Walk to Remember.

Pregnancy loss can be devastating. It changes your hopes and dreams for the future. One thing is for certain, you aren’t alone. Try to stay positive and focus on the future. 

Edward-Elmhurst Health offers a Perinatal Bereavement Program with a dedicated, multidisciplinary staff of nurses, social workers and chaplains—all trained to provide family support in the event of a perinatal loss. Get support to cope with the loss of a child.

The SHARE Program serves and supports those who are touched by the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death. Sharing HOPE is for parents who have experienced a loss and are now pregnant or considering pregnancy. For more information about SHARE, call 630-527-3263.

The SHARE 12th Annual Walk to Remember 2016 was held on Saturday, Oct. 8 at Riverwalk Grand Pavilion in Naperville. Over 800 people attended in remembrance of a lost child.

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