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Categories > Pregnancy and Childbirth > Pregnancy complications

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Miscarriage—coping with the loss

» Take time to grieve

» Don’t blame yourself

» Grieve with your partner

» Accept help

» Postpone getting pregnant

Commemorating your loss

Some couples find comfort in acknowledging their loss with a memorial service. You may want to hold a private or public service where you can put your child’s remains to rest. If no remains are available, consider a different kind of ceremony, such as a tree planting in your baby’s honor.

You’ll probably feel a renewed sense of loss at the time the baby would have been born and on the anniversary of the miscarriage. It might help to attend a religious service or plan to observe those days in some special way.

Who’s at risk

Miscarriage is more likely…

  • in women over 35
  • in pregnancies involving more than one fetus
  • if you conceived while using an intrauterine device (IUD)
  • if your mother took diethylstilbestrol (DES) while she was pregnant with you. (DES was prescribed to many pregnant women between 1941 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage.)
  • if you have a history of three miscarriages and no live births
  • if you have an abnormally shaped uterus, uterine fibroids or a weak cervix
  • if you had certain sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia or genital herpes, while pregnant

What happens when the hopes and dreams you had for your growing baby come to an abrupt end? When miscarriage strikes, prospective parents must contend with grief, guilt and anger, their emptiness and despair compounded by the nagging question, “Will we ever be able to have a baby?”

Amid the sadness, it may be hard to believe that the answer, in most cases, is a resounding yes. Although as many as 20 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage (usually within the first trimester), most women who miscarry go on to have a successful pregnancy. Even women who have had three consecutive miscarriages have a 55 to 60 percent chance of bringing a healthy baby to term.

Of course, while your loss is new, thoughts of subsequent pregnancies and future possibilities do little to ease the pain. Here are some thoughts that may help while the pain is fresh.

Take time to grieve

Know that your loss is very real and that the grief you are experiencing may be as strong as that felt at the death of a parent, sibling or older child. You formed a bond with your baby from the time you learned you were pregnant. As your body began to change, your attachment grew. And hearing the fetal heartbeat or seeing movement during an ultrasound only made the bond more real.

If your loss occurs later in the pregnancy, it may be comforting to save ultrasound images or other mementos from the pregnancy. An early miscarriage, on the other hand, may be complicated by the fact that not many people knew you were pregnant and so are unaware of your loss.

Don’t blame yourself

Remind yourself that the miscarriage was not your fault. There’s no point in torturing yourself or your husband with “what ifs”—“What if I exercised too much or didn’t eat as I should have?” or “What if we hadn’t made love after becoming pregnant?”

Often to blame is a genetic disorder that prevents the fetus from developing normally. Congenital abnormalities, serious infection or exposure to toxic drugs and chemicals may also trigger a miscarriage.

Ask your obstetrician what went wrong with your pregnancy. Not only will this help you understand what happened but possibly prevent it from happening again.

Grieve with your partner

No two people are exactly alike, and no two parents mourn the same way. If you suffer an early miscarriage, your husband may have a less emotional reaction than you because he lacked the physical closeness with your baby. It’s important to talk about your feelings with your husband and let him share his feelings with you.

Accept help

Your friends and family may want to help but not know what to do. Tell them what you need. It could be as simple as keeping you company or picking up an older child from school. Let them be your sounding board if it helps you feel better. If you prefer not to talk about your miscarriage, simply tell them so. Try not to let well-meaning words, such as “You can always try again,” and “At least it happened early on,” diminish your loss. Realize that most people are only trying to help and simply don’t know what to say.

Consider professional help

If your sadness deepens and doesn’t subside after several months, you may need professional help. The American Medical Association recently advised doctors that women who suffer miscarriages are two-and-a-half times more likely to develop major depression in the six months following the loss compared to women who have not been pregnant.

Postpone getting pregnant

You and your husband may be tempted to conceive again very quickly after a miscarriage. While this may be physically possible, it may not be the best decision emotionally. You need enough time to recover from your loss before facing the challenges of another pregnancy.

© 2014 Dowden Health Media