Written by: Shani Fowler
Miscarriages are surprisingly common but agonisingly heart-breaking. It is situation few of us would really think about until it actually happens. But the loss and grief felt can be so intense it almost takes your breath away.
What is a miscarriage?
A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a baby (foetus) during the time from conception to week 23 of the gestation (although most miscarriages occur before week 14). Week 24 is when a foetus is considered viable. Although some babies are be born slightly earlier than this and can survive. Miscarriages can occur to anyone but are often more common with age. Miscarriages can occur and you don’t know until you go for a scan and there is no heartbeat. This is called a missed miscarriage where the body has not yet recognised that the foetus has died.
First time miscarriages
When you become pregnant (especially for the first time) the joy is usually so great that you don’t really consider anything going wrong – you can’t wait to tell people, especially if you have been trying for a while. Then a miscarriage occurs; it is one of the worst feelings a woman can experience. It is then hard to believe any future pregnancy would be successful. The loss of a much wanted baby can leave you grief stricken and desperate, although dealing with this loss varies from person to person. There are measures you can take to help cope with the devastation of miscarriages.
Firstly – it’s normal to grieve
It doesn’t matter how far along you were in the pregnancy; you are bound to feel the loss incredibly deeply. The walls have come tumbling down. You were happy and excited and there was a life growing, a baby you really wanted and you still feel that attachment. You have imagined yourself as a mother, seen yourself bringing up a little baby, and then the carpet is whipped away from under your feet. You are likely to feel grief and sadness, despair and depressed. You are likely to cry – a lot, let it out and if you are able to – share your feelings with others. These are normal responses to such a loss.
Secondly – don’t blame yourself
There is a tendency in human nature to look for reasons and apportion blame – usually to yourself. You can drive yourself mad thinking, was it something you ate, drank or did wrong? It is nobody’s fault. Few women find out what the actual cause was. A miscarriage is not selective it occurs in women of all ages, races, economic and social backgrounds. Miscarriages usually happen if there was something wrong with the foetus. It certainly doesn’t feel like a blessing but it could be one in disguise if there was something severely wrong with the embryo. It is Mother Nature’s way of trying to ensure that babies are born healthy and well. Be kind to yourself and try not to blame yourself, compounding sorrow with guilt will do you no good.
Thirdly – take heart
You might wish you had never been pregnant because having something and then having it snatched away leaves you with a feeling of such sorrow. But take heart – your body has shown you that you can get pregnant! It is actually a very good sign for the future. The very fact you have been pregnant displays a great likelihood that it will happen again, there is nothing fundamentally wrong.
Fourthly – take time
You have just been through an extremely challenging time both mentally and physically. Give yourself time to recover. Different things suit different people. If you feel you need time from work – take that time. Alternatively you might find getting back to your normal routine helps – if so do that. Do what is right for you. Only you will know this.
Lastly – try to find positive stories
If you are at home recovering from a miscarriage you will probably see all the day time adverts which seem to contain contented mothers with bouncing babies advertising nappies and formula food. Try to take yourself away from that. Seek out positive stories from people on forums or people you know that have had a miscarriage (or maybe more than one) and they have gone on to have a baby.
There is no doubt that having a miscarriage is devastating and traumatic but seeking out help and giving yourself time will assist you through it. Remember many people go through it and come out the other end eventually with a baby. I have a positive story; I had four consecutive miscarriages before I finally had a baby. I know the dark tunnel you have to travel through, but I know that there is often a bright light at the end. I may have been 41 by the time I got there but I did get there. Keep positive and when you feel the time is right again, try again. I have found that nothing worth having in life is ever easy.