1. Health

What to Expect Emotionally After Miscarriage or Stillbirth

Five Stages of Grief After Pregnancy Loss

By

Updated April 29, 2014

If you have recently miscarried or learned that you will miscarry, normal emotions can be anything from shock or anger to sadness or numbness. Whatever you’re feeling is OK. Everyone reacts differently to pregnancy loss, and pretty much any reaction is normal.

In the immediate aftermath, your feelings of grief will probably be at their strongest. The falling hormones in your body can even amplify your sadness to a point that it feels overwhelming, but this should get better after your menstrual period returns and your body recovers.

People often discuss grief in terms of five stages, a theory which originated from psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s 1969 book On Death and Dying. Many women find their grief after a miscarriage follows a similar pattern.

Some women will go through all of these stages; others will go through only some of them or will experience them in a different order:

Denial and Isolation

Many women hold out a slim hope that the doctor was wrong and that they are not, in fact, having a miscarriage at all. You might find yourself doing hours of research on the Internet looking for another explanation for your miscarriage symptoms.

Perhaps you don’t want to see anyone –- not even your spouse or partner. You might resenting anyone who speaks to you or you want to hole up at home and not take phone calls or go to work. Social interaction may feel exhausting, and you may just want to be by yourself.

Anger

You may look for someone to blame for the miscarriage. Many women blame their doctors for not seeing the signs earlier and for not being able to prevent the loss from taking place. You might blame your partner or find some reason to blame yourself. (Try to remember that miscarriage is very rarely anyone’s fault and usually cannot be prevented.)

You may feel resentment toward the medical clinic you attended if its pregnancy loss support protocol was inadequate. Your friends and relatives may infuriate you with thoughtless and unintentionally hurtful comments. (Try to be gentle with the people in your life and remember that they rarely intend to hurt you -- they are usually just trying to help.)

Bargaining

If you are religious, you may try to bargain with a higher being and promise specific good deeds if you get pregnant again quickly and do not have a repeat miscarriage. Or, you may conduct hours of research on how to prevent miscarriages and search for anything that you can do to minimize risk of another loss, such as leading a healthier lifestyle or trying alternative medicine tactics.

If you have this inclination, remember again that you probably did not do anything to cause your miscarriage and that most miscarriage causes are completely out of your hands. Working toward a healthier lifestyle is nearly always a good idea for any person, but just beware of creating any unrealistic expectations for yourself and believing any claims that something is a "miracle cure."

Depression

You might wonder if you will ever have a baby. You may convince yourself that you just aren’t meant to be a mom, or that you are being punished for some reason. If you are trying to conceive again, and you are not getting pregnant as quickly as you would like, you may despair that it will never happen. If you do get pregnant again, you may feel intense anxiety and a conviction that you will miscarry again.

Images of babies or pregnancy in public and in the media might bother you, leading you to turn away when you see families with young children or women with visibly pregnant bodies. You may not be able to handle attending coworkers’ and relatives’ baby showers or visiting newborn babies. You may end up flipping the channel when commercials come on featuring pregnancy tests.

Acceptance

Although the pain of your miscarriage may always be with you, it will at some point become easier to deal with. You will be able to look back and be sad that the miscarriage happened, but your feelings of sadness will not feel nearly as overwhelming as they did in the beginning. Many women will not reach this stage until after giving birth to another child.

Whatever you are feeling, please remember that it’s normal and that it won’t always feel as overwhelming as it does in the beginning. You will find that you are stronger than you think and that, over time, coping with the miscarriage will become easier.

Source:

Memorial Hospital, "The Stages of Grief." 2006. Memorial Hospital, Inc. Accessed 1 Nov 2007.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Miscarriage / Pregnancy Loss
  4. Stillbirth / Late Loss
  5. Stages of Pregnancy Loss Grief - Miscarriage Grief

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.