Five Do’s and Don’ts for Surviving Miscarriage
Fit Pregnancy magazine recently asked for my expert opinion about finding ways that miscarriage can make you stronger. It’s an excellent article; I enjoyed writing for them to help women and couples.
The main point I want to make here: Women: if you’re asking yourself whether you did something to cause this miscarriage, you did not; it is not your fault.
Since miscarriage is often the hidden grief, it can be very helpful and powerful to tell others about the miscarriage. Women will likely find out many of their friends and colleagues have had a miscarriage, and will hear others’ miscarriage stories. While many men don’t talk about emotional topics, they will likely find other men who have been through miscarriage. Talking with others helps build community, is normalizing, and helps couples feel less isolated with their loss.
In the process of answering the questions from Fit Pregnancy, I ended up writing the Five Do’s and Don’ts for Surviving Miscarriage. This is written from the perspective of those who wanted the pregnancy.
1. Let yourself feel your feelings (they don’t go away by being swept under the rug). Share them with your partner. Partner: listen well, even if your view is different. Then give empathy: e.g., “Honey, I know this is heartbreaking for you. I’m here with you. “
2. Warning: this is a gender-based comment. Recognize that often women feel they’ve lost a baby, and therefore the entire future without the eventual adult child. Men often think miscarriage as a setback in the process of having a family. They may not feel it as the loss of a baby. Neither is right or wrong. Honor your partner’s view with compassion.
3. Focus on building deeper intimacy as a couple as a result of this shared loss. Let it build character in each of you and strength for other challenges that are sure to come in life. Talk about how you’re handling this together and ask for what you need.
4. Be with your partner when she is having a miscarriage, even if it is uncomfortable or inconvenient for you. Cancel all your meetings, and make it a priority to do whatever you need to do to be with her. If your brain goes into a fight or flight response, resist it and stay put.
5. Seek professional support if you’re having trouble working through it, e.g., your sadness is becoming depression, or if your couples communication is breaking down.
1. Don’t blame yourself; you did not do anything to cause this miscarriage.
2. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Talking about it with each other and other people will let it be real. It did happen; and that helps normalize your experience as part of generations of humanity.
3. Don’t wallow in it. I realize I just said to feel your feelings and don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Use your resilience to both acknowledge what happened and not wallow in it. Do activities you enjoy, eat well, exercise and give excellent care to yourself and your partner. Don’t drink much, it’s a depressant.
4. Don’t be surprised or take it personally if people say things that are meant to help, but are hurtful. For example, “Well, you can always try again.” or “Your baby is in heaven now.”
5. Don’t worry about another miscarriage: only 1% of women have multiple miscarriages.
Enjoy Your Pregnancy
Lastly, but not least: when you get pregnant again, enjoy it with your heart and soul.
For frequently asked questions about miscarriage, visit the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
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