A miscarriage can have long-lasting and deeply-felt impacts. Whether planned or not, you can find yourself replanning your future from the moment you first realise you are pregnant. You might focus on the practical changes that are needed, like a new car, or you might start to imagine holding that baby in your arms or them playing with siblings.
When you have a miscarriage, whether it is a week or a few months later, it’s not just the pregnancy that is over. It’s that version of the future you had started to dream about. Even very early miscarriages can take a long time to come to terms with emotionally.
Miscarriage is difficult for both parents, especially if the pregnancy was long planned for. Still, it often affects the parents in different ways. The pressure of a miscarriage can bring some relationships closer together. At the same time, other couples feel like they are being torn apart. The more couples can communicate, understand and support each other, the more likely they will come through the difficult time with the relationship feeling secure.
The Impact of Miscarriage on the Mother
Losing a pregnancy can be very hard. It is normal to feel the same emotions experienced after any other bereavement, from anger to intense sadness. Grief after miscarriage is often complicated by the guilt a woman can feel. They often wonder if something they did was the cause of the loss: did they eat the wrong foods? Were they too active? Did they not want the baby enough?
It is natural to want to know why it happened and to search for someone, or something to blame. However, in most cases, there is nothing the individual did to cause the miscarriage, and nothing which could have been done to stop it.
In the early days during and after a miscarriage, alongside grief, the body will be adjusting to the changes of hormones and recovering physically. Depending on the stage of pregnancy, there may be significant pain, heavy bleeding, and unbalanced hormones to cope with alongside the grief.
The Impact of Miscarriage on Male Partners
Men often report not feeling connected to a baby until they see them on scans or even born. For most women, the baby is real and changes their lives much earlier, so the grief of the pregnancy ending prematurely can be much more significant.
For men who do feel a deep sense of grief, it can be harder to express how they are feeling or get support because of societal expectations. As an example, very few companies have policies covering leave for partners following a miscarriage, so they may have to process their feelings while at work or take unpaid leave.
As well as grief over the loss, men can sometimes struggle due to what they have witnessed their partner go through at the time of the miscarriage. In addition, seeing the pain (physical and emotional) of their loved one in the following weeks and months can be incredibly difficult. It can be hard to know how best to provide support leaving a feeling of impotence.
The Impact of Miscarriage on the Couple
Couples often avoid sharing the news of a pregnancy until after a healthy scan result around 12 weeks. While 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, it is thought that the risk drops significantly to 1 in 10 once a healthy heartbeat has been heard. This can be from around seven weeks, but most people don’t have a scan until 12 weeks.
Suppose the miscarriage is before people know about the pregnancy. In that case, it can be harder to get support from friends and family when grieving because they don’t know what has happened. If it’s after an announcement, then there is the difficulty of updating anyone who might have known. Going through grief without the support of others is incredibly hard, but whether a couple chooses to share publicly or not, talking to one of our bereavement counsellors can help.
How you can help yourself after a miscarriage?
- Allow yourself to grieve, you have lost a baby and the future you imagined.
- Give yourself time to heal physically. Depending on how many weeks along you were. If any interventions were required, your body might need some time to recover.
- Talk to others who understand. You don’t have to grieve on your own.
- Consider reaching out to a mental health provider. A therapist can be a vital source of support, to help you process the complicated emotions that may accompany your pregnancy loss.
- Consider some form of memorial. Whether you see it as a way to say goodbye like a funeral or choose a way to remember them like planting a tree, a memorial often helps people come to terms with the loss.
Feeling Ready to Try Again?
Not everyone will feel able to try for another baby after having a miscarriage. Still, many people do go on to have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. In fact, around 85% of women who have a miscarriage will go on to have healthy pregnancies. Some people want to try again as soon as their body is ready, while others need significantly longer. It is important that both parents feel ready before trying to conceive again. The timescales for this will be different in every relationship.
Anxiety Around Future Pregnancies After Miscarriage
A new pregnancy after a loss can be a particularly anxious time. When you don’t know what caused a miscarriage, it is impossible to know if there is anything you could do differently or whether it might happen again. A missed or silent miscarriage (where the baby stopped developing some time before the physical miscarriage) can further increase anxiety in the subsequent pregnancy because of the fear of not knowing if the baby is ok. It gets easier from around 20 weeks when the baby’s movement may be felt.
It is understandable to be worried and talking to the midwife might help. Still, if the anxiety is causing sleep loss or making it difficult to cope, it’s important to speak to someone. Hope Therapy have a vast range of trained counsellors who can teach ways to manage anxiety. For more information or to book, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Other blog posts of interest:
Owner and lead counsellor of Hope Therapy & Counselling Services. Ian draws upon various approaches including CBT, Person-Centred Counselling and Mindfulness.
To book a session with Ian or one of the Hope Team, just get in touch.