Read The Loneliness of Miscarriage on The Spinoff.
In this post I'd like to share a bit more information about miscarriage - Megan's tips on dealing with grief, information about the different types of miscarriage, and links to places where you can get support.
Coping with grief after miscarriage
Tips from infertility and pregnancy loss counsellor Megan Downer.
- Give yourself permission to grieve and process what has happened. Miscarriage is a significant loss which is often silent and unacknowledged by others, making it difficult to work through.
- There is no ‘right way’ to feel following a miscarriage. Each person’s experience of pregnancy loss and the circumstances surrounding it are different, so it is important to not put pressure on yourself to feel a certain way.
- When you are ready, ceremony or ritual to acknowledge the loss of your baby can be comforting.
- Many women who miscarry find support from those who have been through miscarriage. Some women find online chat groups helpful during this time, eg facebook.com/groups/miscarriagesupportnz
- Grief is emotionally and physically exhausting. Find some distractions to help you recover from the waves of grief that come. Mindfulness websites and breathing relaxation can be helpful.
- The experience of miscarriage for some women can lead to PTSD and depression. Seek professional support from your GP or a qualified counsellor if you or your support people are concerned.
- Communicate what you need to those around you.
- Take care of yourself. Sleeping, eating and exercise are disrupted during grief and trauma but these basic things can help you to feel better.
- Men and women grieve differently. Listen without judgment to each other’s experience. You do not have to feel the same way to understand each other.
- Counselling can be enormously helpful to those who have suffered pregnancy loss. It provides a safe place to actualize their loss and talk about their feelings and find strategies to cope.
- For those supporting someone who has miscarried, do not minimise the loss. Miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy and baby and is often devastating.
Types of miscarriage
- First-trimester miscarriage: Within the first 13 weeks.
- Anembyronic pregnancy: Also known as ‘blighted ovum’. A pregnancy in which the gestational sac continues to grow but the foetus doesn’t develop.
- Missed miscarriage: Where the miscarriage is diagnosed based on scans or other evidence, but there has been little or no bleeding or cramping.
- Molar pregnancy: A relatively rare condition caused by a chromosomal abnormality that causes pregnancy tissue to overgrow.
- Second-trimester miscarriage: A miscarriage that occurs between 13 and 20 weeks.
- Chemical pregnancy: a very early miscarriage, often undetected as the pregnancy loss may occur at around the same time as the woman’s period. These pregnancies are generally unconfirmed.
- While not strictly a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo grows outside the uterus) is also a cause of early pregnancy loss.
- Recurrent miscarriage: In New Zealand recurrent miscarriage is considered to be three or more consecutive miscarriages, or two late miscarriages, with all pregnancies by the same partner. Recurrent miscarriage is estimated to affect between two and three per cent of women.
Management of miscarriage
If a miscarriage begins unexpectedly, you are advised to seek medical help. You can speak to your GP, your midwife (if you have been formally registered), visit an urgent care or after-hours medical centre, or call Healthline on 0800 611 116. If the bleeding is heavy, you are advised to go to hospital urgently. You may need to call an ambulance.
Visit the Miscarriage Support website for more information.
You can also join the private Miscarriage Support Facebook group to chat to other women who have experienced miscarriage.