Emotions Following a Miscarriage
Although the reported miscarriage rate is approximately 20% of all pregnancies, some experts believe this number could be as high as 50% due to the fact that many women miscarry before they ever even realize they are pregnant. These women may believe they are simply having a heavier period than normal, and unfortunately, of the women who miscarry, at least one-fifth of them will suffer subsequent miscarriages as well. Any loss of pregnancy up to the 20th week is considered a miscarriage, while following the 20th week it is known as a stillbirth.
Doctors are not entirely clear why some women have miscarriages, although it is believed that much of the time a miscarriage is due to a chromosomal error, either in the egg or the sperm. Many women blame themselves, feeling they did something wrong, or did not properly care for themselves during pregnancy, but, in fact, this is rarely the case. Miscarriages generally result from a chromosomal abnormality, or a medical condition (diabetes, thyroid disease, infections, hormonal problems or cervix and uterus problems), and very rarely from exercise, lifting, having sex or working.
While experts may not agree on exactly what causes a miscarriage, women who have been through one will certainly agree that the emotions which follow can be quite complex and lasting. There are, of course, certain physical and medical issues following a miscarriage, however the intense sadness a woman feels will generally take much longer to heal. Women may feel a wide array of emotions following a miscarriage, including disbelief, anger, guilt, depression, difficulty concentrating and grief. Even if the pregnancy ended relatively early in the pregnancy, the mother could have already formed a strong bond with her unborn baby. The emotions of a miscarriage can manifest into certain physical symptoms such as loss of appetite and insomnia as well as bouts of crying and depression.
The first step in dealing with the emotions of a miscarriage will be to accept the shock and denial you feel. You may be totally stunned, and unable to believe it as you took very good care of yourself from the minute you knew you were pregnant. Once you have dealt with your disbelief, you may feel guilt, depression, or even anger. Many women tell themselves that "if only" they had done this or that, the miscarriage would not have occurred, however remember that this is rarely true. If the couple has tried for a long time to have a baby, the anger may be even stronger, as well as feelings of the unfairness of life. Finally, as with all serious losses, you will come to a point of acceptance, realizing you must deal with the emotional aftermath of your miscarriage and that it may be time to talk to someone about the feelings you are having following the loss of your baby. Anticipate that each step in the grieving process may take longer than the one before, and that there will be "triggers" which can lead to emotional setbacks. Attending a baby shower, seeing a nursing mother, suffering through thoughtless comments by others, or going to a family reunion where lots of babies and children are in attendance can all cause intense emotional responses.
How Men and Women Grieve Differently
Although all human beings grieve in different ways, overall women tend to be more expressive in their loss, and more likely to seek support for their loss from others, while men are more action-oriented, and may not choose to participate in the support networks available to them. Don't take this lack of outward emotion to mean your male partner is not grieving-men can bury themselves in work when grieving, and may truly not know how to express their own grief or help you with yours. Obviously the bond between a pregnant woman and her baby is entirely unique, while bonding for the dad may take more time, and may need something tangible to trigger such as feeling the baby kick or seeing an ultrasound. In order for your relationship to survive the emotions of a miscarriage be respectful of one another's feelings, and above all keep your lines of communication open.