Emotional Impact of Recurrent Miscarriage
It is normal to experience a number of feelings following a miscarriage as women respond to the loss of their pregnancy, their hopes and dreams for their future. Miscarriage is a very real loss but as it does not appear as tangible as other losses, (i.e. There is no formal ceremony to mark the loss) this can mean it is sometimes not acknowledged by others or minimized and consequently women can question their grief. The experience of miscarriage is unique; women have different physical, emotional and spiritual experiences and responses to miscarriage so no one way is the ‘right way ‘. A Woman that has experienced her 5th miscarriage following a series of fertility treatments may feel quite differently than another woman’s experience of miscarriage. It is important not to compare your response to others because everyone’s situation and story is different. Whatever your response to your loss is reflects your unique experience so that is completely okay.
Common responses to miscarriage are: an overwhelming feeling of sadness, disappointment, devastation, emptiness, guilt about the loss; perhaps there was something you thought you could have done to prevent it, perhaps you feel responsible that you were unable to carry your baby to full term, shame that you do not seem to be able to do what you may see other women can do easily, anger that your pregnancy ended when you were so careful and had tried so hard when others conceive unexpectedly, trauma about the physical experience of the miscarriage or medical treatment you have had for your pregnancy loss, worry and anxiety about the thought of it happening again, feeling cheated that you could not celebrate your pregnancy, fear about the future and if you will ever have a child, frustration and confusion that there are no answers. These are only just a few responses, there are many, many more.
Those that experience the loss of miscarriage time and time again can struggle with a number of things in their journey; the accumulation of loss, the feeling that this may never end, the longing for a pregnancy but the fear that they may miscarry again, difficulty with making a decision about when to stop trying, frustration and sadness that you feel unable to celebrate your pregnancy, anxiety when you are pregnant, the experience of depression, re-experiencing the loss of previous miscarriages, anger, frustration and confusion and even suspicion that the cause of your miscarriages are unknown, the loss of intimacy in your relationship, the feeling that you and your partner are worlds apart in your feelings and experience, the feeling that you may be burdening your partner or others around you as the loss continues on. Again this is only a few of the many responses for those experiencing recurrent miscarriage.
What can be helpful in your journey!
- Give yourself permission to grieve
- Allow yourself to feel the feelings
- Find ways of acknowledging the loss with a ceremony, symbol or letter to your babies or a drawing if you think this would be helpful
- There is no time period for grief, it is a journey that changes with time so be realistic rather than setting expectations around when you ‘should feel better’.
- If you think you need help with your loss and the impact on your relationship or life, speak with a counsellor who understands this journey
- Tell someone who wants to listen to your story
- Take care of yourself; eating, sleeping and exercise routines will help you to feel in control
- Men and women grieve in different ways and are impacted by miscarriage differently.
- It is normal for women to feel the impact of miscarriage intensely and for a prolonged period because the loss is physical and emotional
- Talk with your partner about the differences in your experiences – you don’t have to feel the same way, you just need understand and accept that you have different feelings
- Keep the communication with your partner open and seek support from a counsellor if you need help to understand each other.
- Be open about what you need with others – let people know if you want to talk about it or if you don’t.
- Take control of the things you can – making a plan with the doctor about treatment and investigative testing, looking after yourself.
- Try to have another goal or other projects even if they are small ones, maybe a hobby.
- Make a plan about the length of time you wish to try for a pregnancy but also be prepared to review it
- Give yourself time to grieve the loss of your pregnancies; it is natural to feel empty and want to try to get pregnant again but it is important you feel you have the emotional resilience if the pregnancy does not continue and that you feel ready in your grief journey.
It helps to remember that the intensity of your grief will change and you will feel better with time. Grief is a natural and normal response to loss and allowing yourself to grieve will help in your healing and coping with your emotions.
Contributed by Megan Downer - Infertility Counsellor, Fertility Plus