Six steps to help you cope with miscarriage

As well as your physical recovery, you and your partner will need time to recover emotionally from a miscarriage

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  • Step 1: Acknowledging your loss

    With a miscarriage at the end of the 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 is bigger you might want to see and even hold your baby, and find that giving him or her a name helps you say goodbye.

    You may also feel it is appropriate to hold a funeral or farewell ceremony of some kind, which may be offered by your hospital. You can also organise a funeral yourself for your baby through your church, or alone. Do what you feel is right for you and whatever you think will help you acknowledge and start to cope with the loss.

  • Step 2: Getting support

    The amount of medical support you receive may depend on what stage of pregnancy you have miscarried and whether it's your first miscarriage.

    Earlier in pregnancy, particularly before your first scan at around twelve weeks, health professionals may be sympathetic but seem to treat the miscarriage as a matter of routine which can be upsetting.

    If you needed to have labour induced or miscarried in your fourth month of pregnancy then medical staff are likely to offer more sympathy and support. They may also direct you towards help to cope with your grief.

    The Miscarriage Association offers advice on their helpline and you can also talk about your experiences to midwives from Tommy's baby charity on 0800 0147 800, Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm.

    Some hospitals offer a cremation or funeral service for all miscarriages, others may only offer this for miscarriages after week fourteen or sixteen. While it's unfortunate, a matter-of-fact approach to miscarriage among health professionals 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 those women who do experience a miscarriage will go on to have a subsequent healthy pregnancy.

  • Step 3: Letting people know

    If you haven't yet told family and friends about the pregnancy then you may prefer not to look to them for support, but this may worsen feelings of isolation.

    Even if you have told friends and family then they may not find it easy to be supportive as miscarriage is seldom talked about, and it can be difficult for people who haven't experienced pregnancy to appreciate how you feel. If you know friends have been through a miscarriage then it might help to talk to them, but even those who have experienced miscarriage themselves may be reluctant to talk about it.

    You might also find it easier to talk to people you don't know, whether a grievance counsellor or a support group. The ThinkBaby forums are a place to start and you can also turn to The Miscarriage Association or Tommy's baby charity for help and advice.

  • Step 4: Supporting each other

    As a couple, a miscarriage may be the first traumatic experience you go through together. You may both be deeply affected but may deal with your emotions in different ways: If your partner is withdrawn and reluctant to talk about it, it doesn't necessarily follow that he or she doesn't care.

    Fathers' feelings about miscarriage can often be overlooked, particularly if they are busy trying to 'stay strong' for their partner. That said, with early miscarriage, before the first scans, heartbeats and kicks,  the pregnancy itself may well be more real to a pregnant woman than her partner. As with most difficulties, keeping up communication is the key to supporting each other and getting through it together.

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  • Step 5: Trying again

    When you can try again for a baby after a miscarriage depends on both your emotional and physical health. From a purely physical point of view it's a good idea to wait for at least one period, and some doctors recommend waiting for two or three cycles to make sure that your body is back to normal.

    Emotionally you may feel that you need several months before you can contemplate the thought of being pregnant again, but equally you may be keen to try again as soon as possible. How you feel about trying again might be affected by how far along with the pregnancy you were when you had the miscarriage.

    If you have suffered several miscarriage, you may need to investigate possible causes.

  • Step 6: Falling pregnant again

    When you do fall pregnant again after a miscarriage, it's natural to be more nervous and emotional about the pregnancy than usual. It's common to see getting past the point of the pregnancy where you suffered a previous miscarriage as an enormous hurdle.

    While this milestone is hard to get out of your head, it may help to try and shift your focus to the positive points in your current pregnancy. Make sure you're eating a healthy diet and are getting enough exercise.

    And remember that the chances are that this time everything will be fine. The less stress and emotional tension you experience in this pregnancy, the better it will be for this baby's development.

Last updated on 29 November 2010