Losing a pregnancy is a traumatic and heartbreaking experience, and despite miscarriage being more common than many people know — affecting somewhere between 10 to 20% of pregnancies — that doesn’t make it any less painful. While there’s no way to erase the loss you’ve experienced, coping with miscarriage can be eased when you have the support you need. Keep reading to learn how to deal with loss after a miscarriage.
Emotional Feelings After a Miscarriage For a woman and people who menstruate, an early pregnancy loss can trigger a range of emotions. While not everyone reacts to miscarriage in the same way, it’s common for someone to experience feelings such as:
Losing a pregnancy can cause hormone levels to rapidly shift, leading to mood swings and causing already-intense emotions to have even more of an impact on your emotional health. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to process your emotions. Remember, there’s no one or right way to grieve this loss as the grieving process is different for everyone. “The emotional feelings experienced can affect some people more than others. It’s important to remember that not everyone will feel or act the same. The grief can be intense, and other symptoms such as fatigue, lack of appetite, guilt, anger, and depression may be present as well.” – Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S, LCSWC
Physical Feelings After a Miscarriage Miscarriage at any stage can cause more than just emotional pain. There is a physical aspect that many women struggle to navigate. Many women deal with exhaustion, loss of appetite, or insomnia. Hormones responsible for pregnancy symptoms remain in your system after a miscarriage, which means some women might continue to experience nausea, swollen breasts, vaginal bleeding, or other physical symptoms even after the physical loss of their pregnancy. While the body can usually heal from a miscarriage on its own, medical interventions may be necessary in some cases. For many, this can make the trauma of pregnancy loss more severe. If your doctor recommends an ultrasound or another type of treatment, reach out to loved ones for emotional support. You don’t have to try to go through this alone.
Know the signs. Take our free mental health test How to Deal with a Miscarriage: 5 Things to Do Dealing with miscarriage grief can be a difficult and painful process. While not everyone who experiences pregnancy loss goes through the same emotions, processing and acknowledging your grief can help you deal with your feelings in a healthy way so that you can heal. It will take time and it’s not something you can rush, but there are steps you can take that can help when it comes to how to deal with sadness after experiencing a miscarriage.
1. Be open about your feelings Many people feel like they need to grieve silently after a miscarriage, especially if they haven’t yet told friends or family that they were expecting. Bottling up your emotions can make negative feelings even more difficult to process and increase your risk for depression. If you’re not comfortable talking to people you know personally about your miscarriage, consider joining a support group. Sharing with others who’ve experienced pregnancy loss can remind you that you’re not alone and the emotions you’re experiencing are valid. “Allowing yourself to feel and express your emotions as you try to understand and accept that they’re normal can be very helpful. Working with a therapist can be a supportive way to process your experience. Know there are caring professionals who want to support you.” – Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S, LCSWC
2. Give yourself a chance to grieve Part of learning how to cope with miscarriage is giving yourself enough space and time to heal. The pain you’re feeling won’t go away overnight, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to move on or “get over” your feelings. While some women may choose to try for a new pregnancy immediately, it’s okay to wait if you’re not ready. Even if you’re physically able to conceive, you may not be emotionally ready for a new pregnancy, especially if you haven’t given yourself the chance to grieve your loss. That’s OK.
3. Take care of yourself After experiencing a traumatic loss, it can be common to neglect your basic needs. When you’re not eating or getting the sleep you need, it can be difficult for your body to recover from the physical strain of a miscarriage. Self-care and healthy coping skills will be incredibly important as you heal during this time. If you don’t have much of an appetite, try eating small, simple meals. It’s fine to order in or eat quick or prepared foods if you don’t feel up to cooking. What’s important is that your body is getting the nutrients it needs. Make sure that you’re resting as much as possible — sleep will be important throughout your recovery. Other ways you can be gentle with your mind and body include trying to do things like meditating, journaling for your mental health, or, if you’re up for it, going for a short walk or sitting outside for a bit during the day. Listen to the signs you need a mental health day off so you can focus on yourself.
4. Find ways to commemorate your loss Many people who’ve gone through miscarriage find it helpful to memorialize their loss. After all, it’s a type of grief in itself. There are several ways to remember and honor the baby you lost. Memorials can be comforting and offer a sense of closure. Whether you choose a name for your baby, plant a tree in their honor, donate to a charity, or find another symbolic way to signify your loss, a memorial may help you feel the pregnancy you lost was real. You can involve friends and family members, or you can commemorate your loss privately. There’s no right or wrong way for you to do a ceremony like this.
5. Remember that it’s not your fault Many people struggle with feelings of shame or guilt after losing a pregnancy. Instead of looking for ways to blame yourself, remember that your miscarriage isn’t your fault. More than half of first trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities, which means there’s nothing you could have done that would have prevented the loss. Try to show yourself compassion during this difficult time. Instead of searching for things that you may have done wrong, remember that this loss was out of your control. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other people, like your doctor, partner, or other friends who’ve had a miscarriage, if you need reassurance. “By practicing healthy activities to cope, you can reduce the difficult emotions and symptoms. That may require willpower and pushing yourself, but the results are worth it.” – Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S, LCSWC
What Should You Not Do After a Miscarriage? If you’ve lost a pregnancy, you may feel pressure from others to “move on” or “get over your pain.” You might feel as though you need to keep your loss a secret, or that you don’t know how to cope with miscarriage in the right way. Since it’s sometimes rare for people to talk openly about pregnancy loss, many myths exist about miscarriage. This can make it even more challenging for many women to navigate their emotions as they try to figure out how to deal with a miscarriage. Don’t listen to people who make negative or hurtful comments, and don’t feel like you have to grieve in a specific way. Grief is a process, and it’s just not something that you can rush or follow a playbook to get through. Each stage of grief requires time. The way that you react to a miscarriage is deeply personal. Whether you’re feeling angry, frustrated, anxious, or are experiencing intense sadness, all of your feelings are normal. People have different ways of coping with miscarriage, and it’s best to deal with your loss in a way that feels right to you.
Get Professional Mental Health Help with Talkspace
Support can be invaluable when you’ve experienced a traumatic loss like a miscarriage. Friends and family members can be a source of strength during this difficult time, but if you’re struggling to process your grief, you may need help from a professional. Seeing a therapist can allow you to talk about your loss and learn how to cope with miscarriage in a healthy way. People who are dealing with miscarriage emotions frequently experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. A therapist can assess your symptoms and recommend the best form of treatment for what you’re experiencing. Miscarriage grief is often painful and complex, but with the help of a professional, you’ll be able to work through your emotions and start the healing process. Talkspace’s online approach to therapy makes getting help simple. Our online therapy platform means you can get therapy from the comfort of your own home from a qualified, experienced mental health professional who understands what you’re going through and can give you the tools you need to heal from your loss. Reach out today to learn more about how Talkspace can help you navigate the painful experience of coping with miscarriage.