Coping with miscarriage

You're pregnant and you don't know whether to tell everyone, celebrate, think of names or panic - and then you miscarry.

  • Woman looking sad
    Gabrielle Fagan
    By   | Family & home writer, Press Association
    Last updated: 13 February 2014, 10:08 GMT

    That abrupt ending of baby joy can be a devastating experience for many women and yet it is not uncommon - around one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, and there are an estimated quarter of a million in the UK each year.

    "The loss of a baby in pregnancy, however early, can be devastating. It can cause enormous distress - much more than people realise,” says Ruth Bender, national director of The Miscarriage Association.

    "As soon as someone knows they are pregnant they begin to imagine that child and their life with it. When you miscarry you lose not just the baby but all those hopes and plans and dreams and the future it held for you,'' she says.

    Yet a survey by the charity, which deals with more than 20,000 calls, letters and emails each year from women and men seeking support, revealed that despite the distress a miscarriage can cause only 29% felt well cared for emotionally after it happened.

    "Sadly, people still mistakenly try to be cheering by saying `never mind, you can have another one' or `it's just as well, there was probably something wrong with it' or `it was so early it wasn't really a baby was it?' Bender says.

    "These remarks can be tremendously hurtful and sound dismissive especially when someone is feeling deep loss and sadness. Far better if you know someone has miscarried to simply say `I am so sorry you have lost your baby' and then let them talk while you just listen and then offer support.''

    While many women may recover quickly after miscarriage others may take months or longer, sometimes experiencing a resurgence of grief on the baby's due date.

    Bender points out: "There's no set time for recovering, while some people are able to regard it simply as bad luck and move on quickly others don't.

    Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about miscarriages.


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  • Crying woman being comforted by husband
    Gabrielle Fagan
    By   | Family & home writer, Press Association
    Last updated: 13 February 2014, 10:08 GMT

    What is miscarriage?

    Most miscarriages happen in the first three months of pregnancy - but they can happen up to the 24th week. Pregnancy loss after 24 weeks is known as stillbirth.

    What are the symptoms of a miscarriage?

    Vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom, which can range from light spotting to bleeding heavier than a period. There may be blood clots or other tissue, and there may be cramping with period-type pains.

    What causes it?

    It is often part of the natural process of making sure that when a pregnancy does continue the baby will be healthy. In the vast majority of cases there is no way of preventing a miscarriage. In over 60% of miscarriages there is a problem with the way genetic material from the egg and the sperm combines - there is no reason for this other than bad luck.

    Miscarriage is more common in older women, smokers and among those having multiple pregnancies such as twins.

    Miscarriage is not caused by stress or lack of rest, and once a miscarriage has started there is very little that can be done to prevent it.

    What will I feel?

    Most people are left with feelings of great sadness and regret. Many also feel shocked and confused. Some feel angry and believe in some way that their body has let them down. Others feel guilty and wonder whether they have been responsible in some way.

    Some talk about feelings of emptiness, longing, loneliness and a lack of self-confidence. Others feel stressed, panicky and out of control and can lose interest in everyday life for a while.

    Will I feel physically different?

    It is common to feel loss in physical ways, as your hormone levels will have dramatically altered. A lot of women find they feel very tired - even some time after the miscarriage.

    You may also have headaches or stomach aches, feel short of breath or tight in the chest, be constipated, have diarrhoea, or find it hard to sleep. These symptoms will probably disappear in time, but if you are worried consult your your GP.

    What about getting pregnant again?

    You may feel that you want to get pregnant again as quickly as possible, or you may feel apprehensive and anxious at the thought of another pregnancy.

    It is important to give yourselves the chance to recover physically and emotionally and not to feel pressured by family and friends. Only you and your partner will know when the time is right. You may both need time to grieve for the loss of your baby and come to terms with what has happened.

    Sharing your feelings, whether with your partner or with others, is a way of helping the healing process. For both of you, emotional well-being is just as important as physical health.

    What about recurrent miscarriages?

    Around 1% of women suffer three or four miscarriages. After three consecutive miscarriages it is advisable to undergo some tests to rule out a specific cause which can include a hormone inbalance, genetic problems or abnormalities of the uterus.


    The Miscarriage Association has a support helpline and support groups.


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