Miscarriage on parents is devastating!
A miscarriage occurs when a pregnancy is lost in the first twenty-three weeks. Estimates place the number of miscarriages at around one in eight pregnancies where the woman knows she is pregnant. There are numerous causes of miscarriages, although the exact cause will often remain unidentified. There is also no way of preventing a miscarriage from occurring. Miscarriages have a profoundly traumatic effect on the mother, the father and the immediate and wider family.
The time at which the emotional impact of a miscarriage begins to be felt can vary. Sometimes it can occur immediately and sometimes it can take up to several weeks to develop. It is natural for people who have been affected by a miscarriage to undergo a period of bereavement. Common signs of bereavement include tiredness, a loss of appetite and difficulty in sleeping.
Various emotions may also be experienced. These include guilt, anger, sadness and shock. There may also be a sense of envy at family members or friends whose have successfully given birth. Different people react in different ways to the grieving persons. There are those who are eager to talk about it and to share their feelings, thereby gaining a sense of comfort and unburdening. Others find the experience of talking about their feelings too painful and therefore maintain their silence.
Some people may try to suggest that the miscarried foetus wasn’t a baby in reality since there was no birth. This may be of some comfort for some, but no one should ever feel pressured into feeling this way. Almost as soon as a pregnancy is discovered, prospective parents begin the process of imagining what life will be like with a child, make plans and harbour aspirations for the future.
Therefore, it is necessary to take some time to mourn not only the lost baby, but the shattered hopes and dreams for the future as well. A miscarriage can be an enormous shock to many people and it is natural to take some time to come to terms with and make sense of what has happened. It is not necessary to display symptoms while undergoing a miscarriage and some women will only learn the horrible truth during a routine antenatal appointment via an ultrasound scan, known as a missed miscarriage.
There is no requirement for people to recover quickly from their shock. Miscarriages are an awful way for a pregnancy to end and shock is an understandable reaction. A sense of failure is also a common reaction to a miscarriage. The mother may wonder whether her actions have in someway contributed to the loss of her baby. In reality, miscarriages very rarely happen on account of something that was or wasn’t done. In fact, the most common causes of miscarriages are abnormalities in the baby’s chromosomes and these happen purely by chance.
It is not unheard of for some women to come to terms with their loss and their grief only a few weeks after the miscarriage and to start planning for another pregnancy. Other women will find planning for another pregnancy too traumatic, either in the short, medium or long term. The baby’s father will also often experience some form of grief.
He may feel obliged to keep his feelings to himself so that he can concentrate on providing emotional support to the mother and not to show any perceived weakness on his part. He may also feel unable to talk about his emotions because of the commonly-held belief that men shouldn’t be seen to cry or be overly emotional. In instances like this, it is important for both the man and the woman to openly discuss their feelings and not to bottle them up.
Miscarriages can also often lead to bouts of anxiety or depression. Failure to communicate between the mother and the father can also lead to relationship difficulties, emphasising the need for both parties to always be open and honest about their feelings and to seek support for themselves.
Like all forms of grief, there are certain actions that should be avoided. For example, it is important to set small targets every day that will be easy to achieve. To try and do everything at once will only lead to stress and possibly an increase in feelings of anger and depression. Additionally, as difficult as this will be initially, the grieving person should not focus on the things that cannot be changed.
All time and energy should be concentrated on the recovery process. It is natural to feel alone after experiencing a loss but these feelings of loneliness should not be dwelt upon. Support is available and ready to be accessed. Finally, as tempting as it may be, the use of alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or any other recreational substances will not provide any comfort or support and may result in a further deterioration of mental health. If there is a need to take any medication to help with the symptoms of grief, the GP will prescribe them.
If you have undergone the trauma of a miscarriage and you feel that either yourself or your partner are having difficulties in coping with the grief, there are various forms of treatment that are available. Your GP may refer you for a course of counselling or may recommend an alternative form of treatment.
There are a number of organisations that can provide specific help and support. These include the Miscarriage Association who offer support to those who have lost a baby.
They can be contacted on their UK helpline at 01924 200 799 from 9am-4pm every Monday-Friday or e-mailed on [email protected]
Cruse Bereavement Care provides support and guidance for people in coming to terms with and understanding their grief and loss. They can be contacted on 0808 808 1677 and have a number of local branches that can be approached for support.
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