It happens a lot, more often than most know because it is rarely talked about — miscarriage. The statistic is staggering: 1 in 4 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, and some experts estimate as many as 40 percent of all conceptions end in a loss.
It happened to Mary (*fictional client). It was a just a few weeks after conception, and she had commenced daydreaming about her beautiful baby and the size he/she had grown in her belly. She had fallen in love, and then the dreaded happened. She woke up and felt different and the doctor was unable to find a heartbeat, and she knew it was over. She was heartbroken.
Suffering in Silence
At that stage in her pregnancy only her spouse, best friend, and mother were aware that she was carrying a child. And to no fault of their own they didn’t know how to support her — she had only had this child in her life for a few weeks, how could a loss affect her so deeply? It was hard for her to wrap her head around and she didn’t know how to talk about it. Instead she suffered in silence.
This is a story that is all too common. It doesn’t matter how long you have been pregnant, a loss is a loss and it is difficult. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month — and it is the perfect time to start the conversation.
Take Care of You
Here are some tips on how to care for yourself if you have suffered the loss of a pregnancy:
1.) Acknowledge your loss — Let go and grieve. Everything else can wait. Take all the time you need and acknowledge what just happened to you and your family. Your loss counts. It doesn’t make you “less of a mother,” and it doesn’t “not count” because it was only part of your life for a few weeks or months. As a mother that child becomes part of you the second you find out he/she is there.
2.) Tell people. The people around you might find it hard to hear and might not know exactly how to react but at least then they will understand why you might not be acting yourself, and you won’t need to hide your feelings. It is also likely that that when telling people your story, others share their stories. It helps to know you are not alone.
3.) Share your story with your girlfriends, and/or your family members — gather your tribe. It helps to have women who understand what you are going through around you, or at least can provide you with emotional support. You need hugs, and you need a shoulder to cry on.
4.) Talk to your partner. Spend time with him/her. Share your feelings, and your misgivings. Do things together. Try not to let this loss create distance between you and your partner. This might not be easy. It is harder for men to understand the bond between a woman and her unborn baby, and he will want to fix it and make it better. Try to talk to him about the little reminders around you, and tell him how he can help — maybe it is as simple as giving you a hug.
5.) Take your time. You don’t need to rush to “get over it.” This loss will be something that you will think of throughout your life, and it may affect you in different ways that you expect. Everyone grieves differently and that is ok. Seek professional help if you are finding it difficult to process your feelings and cope in a positive way.
6.) Take care of you. You still need to eat, and shower. Don’t let your grief swallow you whole. You need to give yourself plans and goals. Get up in the morning, get out of bed and do something. Start small and gradually your days will get easier.
The loss of a pregnancy is something that can never be undone. There will be peaks and troughs as you gradually heal, and eventually you will get there. You will feel like yourself again.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.