How to acknowledge the loss of a pregnancy, and what you may experience after miscarriage
A miscarriage can be a deeply traumatic and emotional experience, regardless of when in your pregnancy it occurs.
Common reactions to having a miscarriage are really no different to other forms of grief. You may feel:
If you miscarry at the end of your first trimester of pregnancy, it may help you to see the foetus, although this is a very personal decision.
Later in pregnancy when your baby’s bigger, you might want to see or hold your baby, and find that giving him or her a name helps you say goodbye and grieve.
You might choose to hold a funeral or farewell ceremony, which may be offered by your hospital. You can also organise a funeral yourself.
Do what you feel is right for you and whatever you think will help you acknowledge and start to cope with the loss.
The amount of medical support you get could depend on what stage of pregnancy you miscarried, as well as whether this is your first miscarriage.
Earlier in pregnancy, particularly before your first scan around 12 weeks, medical staff may seem to treat your miscarriage as a matter of routine.
If you needed to have labour induced, or you miscarried in your fourth month of pregnancy, medical staff are likely to offer more support.
Some hospitals offer a cremation or funeral service for all miscarriages; others may only offer this for miscarriages after week 14 or week 16.
Health professionals’ matter-of-fact approach to miscarriage is common because miscarriage itself is so common, particularly in the first eight weeks of pregnancy. It’s also the case that the vast majority of women who experience a miscarriage go on to have a healthy pregnancy. That said, it doesn’t mean you can’t feel surprised or upset if you feel medical staff are being matter-of-fact over something you find traumatic.
If you haven’t told family and friends that you were pregnant, you may prefer not to look to them for support, and you could feel very isolated.
Even if you have told friends and family, they may not find it easy to be supportive. Miscarriage often isn’t talked about, and it can be difficult for people who haven't experienced pregnancy to appreciate how you feel.
If you know friends who have been through a miscarriage, it could help to talk to them. However, be prepared that they may not want to talk about it.
You might find it easier to talk to people you don't know, such as a counsellor or a support group.
The Miscarriage Association offers support for pregnancy loss from people who have experienced the grief themselves.
Online forums can offer a wide base of sympathetic ears, experiences and advice to help you get through.
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