When a Miscarriage Happens...
Grief is just love that has nowhere to go.
I’m not sure how you ended up on this page. Maybe you are a friend or supporter of The Mountain Doula. Maybe you just ended on the page after a frantic google search. Either way you or someone you know has experienced a miscarriage, and knowing how to handle that is important. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is very common. With testing for pregnancy becoming earlier and earlier, we are now more aware than ever about it. Which is, as a doula, one of the reasons I write about it. The other reason is because I have experienced early loss as well. While I have struggled to find the purpose in it, I know it is so I can also empathize with others who have experienced it. Sometimes the only solace is knowing you are in the same struggle as someone else.
Talk with your care provider.
It can be hard to know what to do first when it does happen. I always suggest talking with your care provider. They will most likely want to do a blood test to confirm pregnancy, and a follow up blood test to see that hCG levels are going down. If your doctor can not be reached (weekend or after hours) you can call the emergency room. In my own personal experience, I had no desire to be anywhere near the ER while I was going through my loss. I suggest calling the L&D unit of your hospital to see what they suggest. There may be an OB near the phone to talk with you, and the nurses there are more understanding of this sensitive situation. Sometimes the suggestion will be to not come in at all. Other times you may need a D&C (dilation and curettage, which removes fetal tissue). Only a medical provider will know what is necessary.
Take time for yourself.
It can all seem like a lot to take in going from being pregnant to not, if you have sick days, time off, or are able to be off, do it. You may be physically capable of being there, maybe even mentally, but please take time for yourself to feel all the deep and complex emotions. We often think of sick days as being for physical ailments, but mentally, miscarriage is taxing. It may take time to describe how you feel, and the last thing you want to do is fall apart in a place you are not ready to. And even if you do fall to pieces in a public place, your feelings are warranted.
Share with someone.
Share with someone. Maybe you had not told anyone you were pregnant, maybe you had, but sharing that loss with someone is important. If you have a spouse or partner, they are grieving as well, and it is comforting to have someone love, remember, and hold dear the little life you have lost together. Sharing with close friends lets them in on why you may feel off, or so sad, they too will help you remember. Sometimes your grief needs more than a friend and it requires a therapist, or counselor. There should not be shame associated with needing someone to help you work through your grief. When others don’t understand why you can just “get over it,” having professional counseling can be a life line.
It is not your fault.
And here, maybe, is the biggest thing I want you to know. It is not your fault. Sneezing too hard, taking a pain reliever for your headache, forgetting your prenatal vitamin, or whatever is running through the back of your head is not the reason you are no longer pregnant. It simply isn’t. Depending on how far along into the pregnancy you are, a blood test may reveal why the loss occurred, but most likely it will not. It can feel like such an unsatisfactory answer, but my own personal beliefs tell me that my two babies, and all lost babies, are in the best of hands.
So go ahead, feel raw and ache with grief. Cry as much as you want. You have experienced a loss no matter how early in your pregnancy. I still think about my little babies every day. It does get easier. There is still life after loss. There are still many places for all that love for your little ones to go.
Gerald Champion Maternal Child Unit (575-443-7640)
Lincoln County Medical Center L&D Unit (575-257-8275)
Backline (1-888-493-0092) - a free hotline with non-judgemental support for loss of any kind during pregnancy.