The early weeks of pregnancy after a previous miscarriage can fill you with anxiety, as you worry and worry that you might lose this new pregnancy, too. Is it something you just have to get through – or are there things that help ease the anxiety, even just a little?
We spoke to Charli Hatton, 36, an educational psychologist who lives in east London with her husband and baby daughter. She had a miscarriage 2 years ago (she’s shared her miscarriage story with us here).
This is Charli’s story of coping with the anxiety of pregnancy after miscarriage…
“I lost my 1st baby in April 2017 when I was 9 weeks pregnant. The sadness overwhelmed me for a long time. But gradually I did feel better.
“Before we started trying again, I said to my husband, ‘We walk a dark path.’ Because we didn’t know if I would miscarry again. That sounds really negative but you don’t know what’s coming.
“I fell pregnant again in January 2018, 8 months after my miscarriage.
“We told people early on – the people who we’d want to support us if it didn’t go well.
“I didn’t know if we were going to be a couple who would have lots of problems with pregnancy or if we were going to be OK. My doctor said I could be suffering from delayed grief.
“The closer I got to the date of my previous miscarriage, the harder it felt. I became certain something was wrong, that we had had a missed miscarriage. It was awful.
“My husband asked me, ‘Are you enjoying being pregnant?’ I was thrilled but did I dare to dream? We did that last time.
“Initially, I didn’t want an early scan – before the routine 12-week NHS one – so that I didn’t get too attached.
“But, after looking into it, I learnt that, if you hear a heartbeat in an early scan, miscarriage is less likely to happen.
“I tried to get an early scan through NHS, but they told me that I ‘hadn’t had enough miscarriages to qualify for one’ – which was not great wording. I know there’s only so much money in the NHS, though; they can’t give early scan to everyone. Luckily, I had some money for a private scan. I got one at 9 weeks.
How can friends and family support someone expecting again after a miscarriage?
“Be there. Allow a space for really raw emotions be expressed. Don’t be judgmental.
“Taking food round can be great. I couldn’t face cooking. Even getting a takeaway felt too much.
“Don’t say, ‘Your next pregnancy will turn out OK’ because you don’t know if it will.
“Just sit and watch crap TV with your friend who’s miscarried. If someone had turned up at my house with McDonald’s and sat and watched TV with me, it wouldn’t have been such a bad day.”
“During that early scan, I was prepared for bad news. When it was good news – when it showed our little life, heart beating away perfectly, I was shocked. I was crying so much, they had to stop scanning!
“After that, it was a bit less stressful. And late, once my daughter started moving, it helped a lot more. I could feel her in there.
“But I still didn’t buy anything for my daughter until she was born. I had some bits that were second-hand, but they belonged to other children. So if anything happened to this pregnancy, I could give all those baby things to the charity shop – those items weren’t my daughter’s anyway.
“To buy even a vestfor my daughter before she was born, anything brand new, felt too painful. I knew that if something had happened, then I’d be left with this item, this object, that I wouldn’t know what to do with.
The things that really help
“I think the best thing for me was staying busy and trying to rest when I was able to.
“My husband was also really supportive and we learnt a lot about each other throughout the experience.
“I have a close friend, who’d had a miscarriage 3 years before, and it was so helpful to have someone to talk to. She was fantastic and so supportive. I don’t think I could have managed as well without her.
“I also borrowed my in-laws’ dog, and we sat there looking at each other and that helped so much. Going on long walks was good, too.
“I really valued speaking to the Miscarriage Association and reading advice on their website. I also used miscarriage forums to read endless stories from other women who had also lost their babies. I found it so cathartic to vent anonymously and express my anger and fear to others who wouldn’t judge.
“I had weekly therapy, it was helpful for me to process my feelings in a safe space. I took time out of work to allow myself to feel what I needed to and rest.
“I relied on my mother, too. She was very supportive.
“If you are worried, speak with your doctor about your fears. They can offer reassurance, advice and further medical involvement if that’s what you need.
“I gradually felt better and less anxious. Ultimately, I’d say, just be kind to yourself.