A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy that happens sometime during the first 23 weeks. The majority of miscarriages happen during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, which is often referred to as the first trimester. Miscarriage often occurs with no warning, and often no medical reason can be found why it happened.
How common are miscarriages?
More than one in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage which is around 14,000 women or 20% of pregnancies in Ireland each year, although the figure could be significantly higher because many miscarriages are thought to occur before a woman realises that she is pregnant.
Miscarriages are much more common than most people realise. This may be because many women who have had a miscarriage prefer not to talk about it to many people.
It is thought that most miscarriages are the result of random variations in the chromosomes of the baby. Chromosomes are genetic ‘building blocks’ that guide the development of a baby. If a baby has too many or not enough chromosomes, the pregnancy can end in miscarriage.
So it is very important to remember that even if you took the best care of yourself during pregnancy, you often can’t prevent a miscarriage. Having a miscarriage does not mean there is anything medically wrong with you or your partner, that you did something wrong nor does it mean that you cannot have a baby in the future.
A miscarriage can have a profound emotional impact, not only on a woman but also on her partner, friends and family. If a woman has had an incomplete miscarriage and requires medical intervention and treatment this can also add to the emotional distress of a miscarriage. Due to the hormonal changes in their bodies women may also suffer from postpartum blues. Some women may even suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from having a traumatic miscarriage. Sometimes, the emotional impact is felt immediately after the miscarriage, whereas in other cases it can take several weeks to emerge.
The most common emotions that are felt after a miscarriage are grief and bereavement. They can cause physical and emotional symptoms.
Physical symptoms of grief and bereavement include:
- fatigue (tiredness)
- loss of appetite
- difficulties concentrating
- sleeping problems
Emotional symptoms of grief and bereavement include:
- shock and numbness
- anger (sometimes at one’s self or a partner, or at friends or family members who have had successful pregnancies)
- an overwhelming sense of sadness
Losing a baby is one of the most traumatic events that can happen to a person. When a couple finds out they were going to have a baby and miscarry their hopes, dreams and plans are shattered for that child and family irrelevant if they have never seen or held the baby, not having any mementoes of the baby can also cause great distress. You may not have told many people that you were pregnant especially depending on how far along you were so you may feel that you can’t share your distressing news now and feel you have to hid your loss, you may feel you are expected to go back to normal, very often people don’t know how to support you or they may say the wrong thing which only adds to your distress.
Regardless of the cause or how far along the pregnancy was does not matter when it comes to an individual’s emotional impact, we are all unique and our emotions as well as our coping skills are unique to each person as well. We all grieve differently and for different lengths of time, never compare yourself to someone else or judge someone else like your partner on how they are grieving, there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
Different people grieve in different ways. Some people find it comforting to talk about their feelings while others find the subject too painful to discuss. Studies have shown it takes longer to deal with grief and may end up causing other mental health issues if you do not talk about it or deal with your grief which is why Nurture is here to help you.
Something to Remember
For most women, a miscarriage is a one-off event (known as a sporadic miscarriage) and they go on to have a successful pregnancy in the future.
Recurrent miscarriages (the loss of three or more pregnancies in a row) are uncommon and affect 1% of all couples. Even in the case of recurrent miscarriages, an estimated 75% of women go on to have a successful pregnancy in the future.
If you have suffered from a miscarriage and you and your partner are thinking about getting pregnant again you should talk to your doctor who can offer help and advice. Some women come to terms with their grief after a few weeks of having a miscarriage and start planning for their next pregnancy. For other women, the thought of planning another pregnancy is too traumatic, at least in the short term. This is also normal as grief and how long it takes us to heal is different for everyone
You are not alone and it really is okay to talk about it
If you are worried that you or your partner are having problems coping with grief or your grief is overwhelming, you may need help and counselling. Nurture is here to help.
Please click here to see how to contact us.