Miscarriage is not uncommon. Even though we read the statistics from different sources and logically understand that miscarriage is in fact a common occurrence, when it happens to you, it feels like the farthest thing from a common, or a shared experience.
This is most likely due to the number of women who privately go through miscarriages without reaching out for support. In fact, statistics that are available on miscarriage are frequently noted to be under reported numbers as not as many women share this information as the number who experience miscarriage. Additionally, miscarriages can happen so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn’t even necessarily recognize she is having one but instead thinks that she is simply having her menstrual cycle.
After a miscarriage, some typical experiences are to question what you did wrong, what you could’ve done better or differently, or even to blame yourself and think something is wrong with you. These ways of thinking are exacerbated by the number of women proudly sharing the exciting news of their pregnancy whilst there is a lack of conversation surrounding miscarriage. They are happening – people simply don’t announce them the way they do the positive news. However, this lack of conversation increases the tendency to feel alone and defective after one (or more) happens. If only every woman were to open up about their miscarriage experience, then perhaps the next woman having one would not feel so isolated and confused.
The fact of the matter is that miscarriages are common. Whether you choose or not to openly have conversation about your experience immediately following it happening or down the road, know that the feelings you are experiencing are completely normal and healthy. Typical emotions to experience after miscarriage include grief, sadness, loneliness, confusion, anger, impatience, fear, worry, anxiety, etc. Likewise, it is not uncommon to experience all of these emotions at once as you begin to heal from the loss you just experienced and perhaps look forward to the next opportunity to try again.
Stages of grief
A miscarriage is a loss of pregnancy. What a person experiences a loss, they usually go through the five stages of grief. There is no exact amount of time that each person takes to move through each stage of grief. A person may move through some stages quickly, while staying in another stage for a longer period of time. Above all, know there is a reason for what you are feeling and that the stages of grief are extremely common and healthy to experience following a loss. The five stages of grief are:
- Shock and denial – usually experienced as disbelief, looking for evidence that the opposite is true (i.e., attributing residual pregnancy hormones and symptoms to meaning you are still pregnant)
- Anger – questioning the fairness of the loss occurring; may externalize anger towards others such as their partner, friends who are pregnant or have babies, or internalize anger towards themselves by blaming or thinking of things they could have done differently
- Bargaining – looking for ways to right the wrong, to find a reason and to remedy it. “I will eat all organic foods.” “I will take a better multivitamin.” “I will exercise more.” This stage is all about the notion that a miscarriage can occur without cause or that one cannot prevent it is highly upsetting, and this stage is focused on fixing things.
- Depression – since miscarriage feel like a very isolating experience, it is not uncommon for women to further isolate themselves, even from those who want to help, and feel as if they are the only ones who have ever experienced such grief. A woman may experience many signs of depression, though severity is dependent on a woman’s experience, her support system, her previous methods of coping, and if she is more prone to depression or other psychological illnesses. If this stage is severe enough to negatively impact daily life for more than several days or if there’s any thought of self-harm, please reach out for help from a trained mental professional.
- Acceptance – the magnitude of the grief begins to lessen over time. Eventually, the loss will be a part of your story without defining you, your life, or being the focus of your thoughts. The memory never goes away, but the emotional pain can fade with time.
Being in a sound state of mind before trying again
There are some people who (rather quickly) after miscarriage are truly ready to begin trying to conceive again. These tend to be people who have better coping skills, a support system, and most importantly, directly address their thoughts and emotions about the loss they just experienced. On the other hand, there are those who bottle up their emotions and don’t deal with what just happened and believe they are ready to move onto the next attempt at conception. It is not surprising for these people to feel emotionally dysregulated, experience more fear, anxiety, and sadness during their next pregnancy. This can occur for many reasons, but primarily because they did not adequately address the previous loss.
When you have allowed yourself the time to process the loss and emotionally recover in a healthy way, from a psychological standpoint you are then ready to move forward with trying to conceive again.
Seeking Professional Help
If you have had one or multiple miscarriages, this can take a toll on you mentally, emotionally, and physically. The motivation to try again, the worry, fear, and concerns about being let down again can continue to mount each time another loss occurs. It’s important to look for signs of depression and anxiety following any miscarriage.
Whether you or somebody you know has experienced one miscarriage or 10 miscarriages, working with a mental health professional can be a positive strategy for dealing with your previous losses and preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for trying to conceive again.
WE CAN HELP
If you are struggling with a recent or not-so-recent miscarriage, we can help. Whatever the reason, give us a call or send us an email. Remember, there are many reasons why people seek therapy. Professional mental health assistance can greatly benefit you in many ways, including making important changes in your life.
We are committed to providing therapy and counseling services in a comfortable, relaxing, encouraging, and non-judgmental environment to yield the most realistic and best outcomes. Give us a call or email us today to schedule an appointment.