Truth About the Post-Miscarriage Roller Coaster

Moving forward after a loss can be difficult.

Posted Nov 08, 2018

Source: istock/Marjan_Apostolovic

  Miscarriages are difficult. It can impact your body, your emotions and it might be a topic you want to avoid. But they’re actually fairly common – in fact, one in four women will suffer from a miscarriage in their lifetime. Whether it’s your first, your second or your fifth, know the paths to recovery will vary, as do our personalities, our support networks, and our preparedness. The first step is recognizing the physical and psychological fallout of a miscarriage. It’s not uncommon to experience the following symptoms:

The physical symptoms you may experience:

The emotional symptoms you may experience:  

There is no right way to process pregnancy loss, but here are some tips to help you begin to move forward:

1. Rethink self-blame and guilt. Whether it’s the first or one of many miscarriages, it’s important to remind yourself that such losses may be an inconvenience, an unexpected shock, a fact of life right now, but not a personal punishment. You did not do this to yourself. Stress does not cause infertility, infertility causes stress.

2. Focus on the present – Choose this time to find what you need to recover. You can’t re-live the past or pre-live the future, so stay in the here and now. We can usually deal with what’s happening this minute, hour, or day. It’s trying to anticipate the future that can slow down recovery.  

3. Take control - Clarify all the information your physician gave you about your miscarriage and all the options available to you. You might not be able to use the information to solve the problem by yourself, but it may help prepare you for what you will be dealing with in the future. When our ability to predict what’s coming next goes up, our stress goes down.

4. Practice self-care – Some of your symptoms are from emotional and physical exhaustion. Get enough sleep, exercise, and time alone. Use this time to focus on you. Underwhelm yourself. Take care of yourself as you would your loved ones.

5. Talk to yourself – Even if it feels a little silly, give yourself a pep-talk. What you say to yourself can change your outlook and lift your mood.

6. Talk to others – It can be hard to talk about this difficult subject and you may want to keep it private because you don’t want unsolicited advice, or you feel you don’t know anyone who can relate. The result is that you may feel isolated when you need understanding and support. Use national fertility organizations like RESOLVE, or your fertility clinic’s resources for finding others to talk to in confidence, because talking is one of nature’s therapies. It can give you an opportunity to express your fears and feelings out loud to others and be reassured that they are normal. 

7. Choose your listeners carefully. You want:

  • Privacy - Choose a listener who will respect your privacy and let you take the lead in the conversation.
  • Support - Find a listener who won’t talk about themselves and take over the conversation. It’s their support you need, not their advice.
  • Empathy, not sympathy - Choose a listener who has been through a miscarriage or similar situation. You can usually find individuals to talk to and support groups for miscarriage by asking your physician’s office, counselor, or search for national organizations online.

And if you find yourself not ready to talk about your miscarriage, let your support system know you would prefer not to talk about your miscarriage just yet. No excuses or explanations necessary.

8. Focus on your work - As stressful and preoccupying fertility treatments can be, work can actually provide an effective distraction from the persistent anxiety you may be feeling. Staying busy and active with a job or projects can distract you and give you a routine to get you through the disorganizing effect of a miscarriage. 

9. Know the signs of depression - Not only have you had a loss, but your hormonal profile may have abruptly shifted into a mini-postpartum mode. Mild depression may make you feel tired and sad. More severe depression may mean frequent crying, loss of appetite, and despair. All signs of depression should be taken seriously whether it is triggered by hormonal therapy, a pregnancy loss, or treatment failure. Speak to your physician about a referral for therapy, support, and/or medication. A change or break in fertility treatment may help, too. 

10. Get physical exercise. If you feel tired, lethargic, isolated, withdrawn, sleepless, or sexless after a miscarriage, physical exercise can help get the body back on track. Once your physician gives you the okay, use exercise to pump up circulation, release endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers), and to be with other people, even if it’s just to run side by side on a treadmill. As a bonus, early morning exercise will help reset your body’s daily clock.

If you have experienced a miscarriage, you know it is not easy, but our emotional stability is more resilient than you may think. But you need TLC to speed the process, from you to you. If you find you are not regaining your equilibrium, reach to your physician for both a medical assessment and for referrals to emotional support professionals.