Unless you have ever experienced a miscarriage, it can be hard to understand what a woman goes through when she loses a pregnancy. We can understand maybe just an ounce of the pain, because we understand the depths our love is for our children. Unfortunately, we do know a lot about miscarriages, because we are terrified of joining this club of heartbroken, yet immensely strong women.
We do know that miscarriages often happen in the first trimester, with most of them occurring before you even know you are pregnant. You go through what you think to be your normal menstrual cycle. We also know that most miscarriages occur due to a chromosomal abnormality. Meaning that there was nothing the mother did wrong that caused her to lose her pregnancy. While you may think this would bring some comfort to a suffering woman, it doesn’t really. She will always wonder if she had done something differently if the outcome would have been different.
It also doesn’t matter when the pregnancy was lost, we love our children and we become mothers the moment we see those two pink lines on the test. There is no competition when it comes to pain due to pregnancy/infant loss, and every woman will experience it differently. While we know the signs and symptoms to look for when it comes to miscarriage, and even how the fetus is passed, do we really know a lot about what comes next? I am talking about the physical and emotional aftermath that makes a large void that a woman is left trying to crawl out of? Some may, but in case you don’t, here are 15 things that happen.
15 All The Stages Of Grief
Most women, maybe especially those who have been trying to conceive for a while, form a close attachment to their baby as soon as they find out they are pregnant. The being is not just a cluster of cells or an embryo to them, it is a baby and they immediately start to imagine what they will look like and how they will smell. Due to this bond, when they lose the pregnancy it is no different to them than the death of a close relative or friend.
They will still go through a period of mourning, and there are certain stages of grief she is likely to go through. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are all the steps that a person typically goes through when they experience a loss. Some may go through them all in order, some skip some and some go back and forth from them like a yo-yo. This is the roller coaster ride of a woman who has miscarried.
14 In For The Long Haul
While we are on the topic of grief and mourning, we need to discuss that there is no timeline to grief. There is no set time that you have to grief, and everyone is different. Some are able to move through the stages fairly quickly and heal, while others need a bit more time. A woman who has miscarried has to be allowed to grieve how she needs too and for how long she needs too.
This aftermath can last anywhere from a few weeks, months and even years. Women are expected to get back to business rather quickly, and it is an unfair limit placed on a woman who has lost her pregnancy. Some may even be shocked to know that a woman can grieve a miscarriage for a long period of time. Remember, she is a mother who lost her child, no matter how you viewed her fetus.
13 Hurt By Comments
When someone has a friend or family member that experiences a loss, it is our human nature to want to try anything to make them feel better. What we obviously do not know (because it keeps happening) is that what we say at a time of loss can really hurt someone. For anyone who has had a miscarriage, I would be comfortable betting money that someone has said to them something like, “you can try again.”
This is a very hurtful comment, that can have some pretty big consequences. It is a comment she is most likely going to hear a lot during the aftermath of her miscarriage, and while she may know it comes with the best of intentions, it hurts her. She doesn’t want to try again, she wants the baby she lost. She will most likely smile and tell you she knows, and even thank you, but inside she is hurting. So, consider this your PSA of the day.
12 What’s In A Date?
The problem with grief and miscarriage is that the pain never really goes away. It is an aftermath that will probably last her entire life. She will more than likely reach a point where she can carry on her day-to-day activities. Where the loss will not be on her mind all the time, but every once in a while, it will creep up on her. She will be reminded when she walks by a baby section of a store, or when someone announces they are pregnant.
There will always be triggers for a mother who has lost a pregnancy. The first biggest hurdle she will have to come over is her due date. As her due date approaches, she will become quite emotional, thinking of what this day was supposed to be. Every year, when the date of her loss and due date approach she may need some extra support. This is an aftermath that may last her entire life.
11 Exhausted Beyond Belief
A woman who has a full-term pregnancy with a healthy baby is likely to be exhausted after giving birth, this we know. What you may not know is that a woman who has experienced a miscarriage may also feel exhausted. Her body has just gone through something traumatic, and it is said that she is experiencing the hormones and levels of cramping that a woman would in a normal childbirth.
Add on to the physical changes that are happening in her body, she is most likely having trouble sleeping at night. This not only aides in her being more tired, but it prevents her body from healing the way it should. It is hard to tell how she will manage the nighttime after a miscarriage, as every woman is different, but if she is having trouble getting the sleep she needs, she should speak with her medical team about different strategies to help her.
10 Fever, Chills And Cramps
There are some people in the world who think that after a woman has a miscarriage, that she just can get back to her day-to-day life in no time, especially when the loss happens early. Not only is this completely unrealistic when you consider the woman’s emotional health, a miscarriage takes a toll on a woman physically as well.
If the pregnancy ended early, chances are the woman will pass it naturally. There are times when she needs a D&C done to make sure all the tissue was removed. It is important to make sure her system is cleaned out to avoid infection. Sometimes, we can do as much as possible and infections can still happen. Women may be left violently ill from a miscarriage. They can have a high fever, the chills and even severe abdominal cramping. All of these would require medical attention right away.
9 Hormonal War Has Broken Out!
So much of a woman’s makeup is hormonal. From menstruation to pregnancy, hormones play a big part in our lives. When a woman loses a pregnancy, her hormones are going to take a while to level out. This will mean that she will have to deal with some pretty big mood swings for a while, and this can have a large impact on her life.
If she must go back to work at a professional setting, it can be hard for her to stay focused and polite to her co-workers and her boss. Her husband, family and other children at home may also take a lot of the brunt of her hormones and have to deal with a moody mom. The best thing for her to receive is support, and her spouse may have to take on a lot of her roles for a while.
8 Still Pregnant?
Another aftermath that can play a big part her mental and physical health is that she may feel like she is still pregnant. When a woman has a miscarriage, it takes her body some time to realize that she is not pregnant anymore. If she were to take a pregnancy test for a few weeks after the pregnancy ended she will most likely still receive a positive result.
This is again all due to the hormones. Pregnancy hormones are what tells your body that you are pregnant, and what causes a lot of the symptoms of pregnancy. It is still possible and likely that a woman may still experience morning sickness, headaches and fatigue even after she has lost the pregnancy. It is a cruel process for anyone to endure, and it may seem like a very bad joke mother nature is playing on her.
7 Milk But No Baby!
One problem with miscarriage is that our organs and body work automatically. They don’t have their own individual brains to work out what is happening, so while a body may still think it is pregnant, it also may think it has birthed a child when a woman has a miscarriage. When a woman loses her pregnancy, the body thinks that she has given birth, it doesn’t know that the baby did not live.
An aftermath that happens, that not a lot of women think about is that there are instances where a woman will start to produce and leak milk from her breasts. Her body thinks she needs to breastfeed, so it is triggered to start producing milk for the baby. It can be one of the most heartbreaking moments of miscarrying, making milk when there is no baby to feed.
6 There Will Be Blame
We stated earlier that most miscarriages happen early in the pregnancy, and that they are normally due to chromosomal abnormalities. That it was nothing that the woman did to cause this from happening. This means nothing to a woman who has lost a pregnancy. She doesn’t want to hear it, she will still blame herself.
As people looking from the outside, it is easy for us to say that it is not her fault, and that she shouldn’t blame herself. As a woman who is going through it, it is an endless game of what she did or did not do that could have possibly caused this. She will scrutinize every little thing she has done and wonder if that was the reason. She will think about the day she ran to catch the bus, or when she drank that extra cup of coffee. This guilt will continue for a long period of time.
5 Serious Mental Health Concerns
We have talked about some of the emotional aftermath that is left when a woman loses a pregnancy, however it can be more serious than that. A lot of people think that while miscarriage is an awful thing to happen, it happens and then life goes on. This is not always the case, and sometimes a woman can be left dealing with the aftermath for the rest of her life.
At times, the grief and loss of a miscarriage can have effects that will last a lifetime. It can trigger a more serious and chronic mental health concern. Some women are left with severe depression as well as anxiety and this can have an impact on the rest of their life. They may need the help of a counsellor or even medication to get through each day. It is not something that is done when the bleeding stops, it can be carried for the rest of her life.
4 It Will Be Hard To Be In The Real World
A lot of us don’t take much thought to the world around us, we see other people and we just go about our business. When you are a woman who has just lost her pregnancy, things will start to stick out like a sore thumb. She will suddenly have a secret radar that will draw her attention to every pregnant woman or baby that is in close proximity.
This will be most intense in the early recovery stages, but it never really goes away. It may decrease if she falls pregnant again, but it will always be there. She will see a lot of women who are pregnant or who are pushing infants in strollers and she will be sad. If she has a close friend or family member who is pregnant, she will also be sad. In this situation, she will most likely put on a brave face, because she is happy for you.
3 Always Afraid
The silver lining, if you choose to find that, in miscarriage is that the numbers don’t lie. What the numbers tell us is that normally after a miscarriage a woman is most likely to go on and have a healthy miscarriage. It is not usually a repeat thing, and there is no reason why she can not try again and have a healthy pregnancy and beautiful baby.
The truth is that one of the aftermaths of a miscarriage is the presence of fear. She will always be afraid. When she finds out she is pregnant, she will become a fearful and anxious being who is terrified of losing another baby and having to endure the awful process again. This fear may be so strong that she is even fearful to fall pregnant. It may make her hesitant to even try again. With some support and encouraging words from her OB/GYN, she should be able to work through this fear.
2 Suffering From Post-Partum
We told everyone about the shocking fact that a woman who miscarries may start to produce milk once she has lost the baby. We also stated that her body will think she is still pregnant for up to 2 months following the miscarriage. It takes a while for her body to catch up with her mind. Did you know that women who miscarry are just as likely to fall victim to PPD (post-partum depression) as those who delivered a healthy baby?
That is all again due to hormones. When you miscarry, your body truly believes that it has given birth to a live baby, so just as it is able to produce milk, it also has the ability to from this crippling depression. PPD is not something to take lightly, and it is something that needs treatment of some sort to make sure that the woman is healthy and happy. If you or someone you know miscarries, please watch out for the warning signs, as this may be the biggest aftermath that not a lot of people know about.
1 Every Woman Is Different
Every woman is different. Every pregnancy, childbirth and miscarriage experience is different. While we may be able to read all the articles we want in an attempt to educate ourselves to what to expect, it will never be able to tell you how it would work if it happened to you. All we can provide is some general guidelines about what woman report happening the most.
The best thing anyone can do when it comes to dealing with the aftermath of a miscarriage is take it a day at a time, and keep the lines of communication with your doctor open. Make sure you have a great support system, both formal and informal, and do the best you can to take it easy. Of all the aftermaths that follow a miscarriage, one of the most damaging ones could be the guilt. This is the one that needs the most attention.
Sources: americanpregnancy.org, parents.com