Miscarriages and how to process them

I WAS asked to write about the possibility of miscarriage as that is very common and brings forward some mental health issues.

A miscarriage occurs when the foetus dies typically before the 20th week of pregnancy (five months) but most often occurs within the first three months. They are fairly common, occurring in about 20 percent of pregnant women but this number changes depending on which trimester the miscarriage occurs. However, despite its commonality, many women blame themselves and experience severe physical and emotional difficulty. However, it is important to know that most miscarriages are not due to anything the expectant mother did.

The most common causes of miscarriages are gene abnormality, an unusual number of chromosomes that happen randomly, or uterus abnormalities- both occur without prevention or causation. Other possibilities are serious injury or infection or if the expectant mother has any long-term or severe illnesses such as diabetes.

The only preventative measures that doctors recommend (but are still not guaranteed to safeguard from a miscarriage) are abstinence from alcohol and other drugs and being underweight during pregnancy. Normal activities such as work, exercise or intercourse do not cause a miscarriage.

There are different kinds of miscarriages which can be dangerous if not medically treated. Some expectant mothers may not even know they are miscarrying, but the common side effects are bleeding and stomach pain/ cramping. If you feel either of these in an unusually painful manner, it is highly recommended that you seek medical attention immediately.

If you have experienced a miscarriage, I’m truly sorry for your pain and trauma, especially if you did not receive the proper help and support afterwards. If you ever experience this occurrence, you are not alone and there are healthy ways to grieve this loss.

After a miscarriage, there is no one way or emotion to feel nor a specific length of time to feel them. All women have a variety of mixed emotions such as sadness, anger, disappointment, the envy of other parents, guilt and in some cases, even relief – any emotion you feel is fine. There is a lot of confusion of emotions, especially if the pregnancy was not planned, and many struggle with conflicting emotions – it’s okay to feel whatever it is you are feeling. Allow yourself to be without guilt or self-judgment.

Don’t just allow yourself to feel, allow yourself to express your feelings physically, verbally or emotionally; lean on anyone you need to and trust and share how you feel. Especially with other women who have also experienced miscarriages, you’d be surprised how many they are.

Unfortunately, I know women who have been told they should not feel such a sense of loss as they had ever officially met their baby. An earlier loss is not necessarily easier to handle than a later one. The expectant mother was excited. She had made plans. She had fallen in love with not only her future child but their future bond and life together; that absolutely needs and deserves to be grieved.

What you should not do to yourself is feel any failure or guilt. If you do, try to rationalise your way out of those feelings. As mentioned, there are many things that may go wrong for which you are not responsible; you did not fail as a mother. Do some research if you are unable to rationalise those negative thoughts to ensure you read and see for yourself. This alone may provide some comfort.

Many women also find it beneficial to acknowledge and commemorate their loss. This means finding a special way to remember the baby, provide closure, and ensure the child will remain a part of your family healthily.
This can be done in a variety of ways, and the most helpful one will depend on the individual and what she values most. Below are some common examples of commemoration that have be shown to be helpful; remember that only some will be helpful for you and you can make up your own.

– Name your baby- some women find comfort in naming as it adds value to the life lost. It’s easier to speak about as well as to them.
– Plant a tree in honour of your baby- others find this comforting as it is something that could be there for generations and a physical place you can go to to find solace.

– Buy or make a piece of jewellery with their supposed birthstone. Others find this comforting as a tangible ‘keepsake’ to have with you always. Others found comfort in buying a special teddy bear or knitting a special blanket as many long for something to physically hold when grieving.

– Start a charity or organisation in your baby’s name or honour. Many find this beneficial for obvious reasons; out of your grief came light for others and without even being born, your baby made an impact on this world. This does not have to be a grand charity or even a sizable donation. My suggestion would be to start a support group for women who have suffered miscarriages and were not provided with the needed support. This will also help you to bond with others and be reminded that your feelings are justified and felt by many.

– Others find comfort in a small funeral or grieving ceremony. A life was lost and you can grieve it appropriately.
Of course, if you have the access, seeking mental health treatment such as counselling will always help with situations like these. I hope you find these things helpful if you are experiencing such a loss and will continue to healthily grieve this loss.

Thank you for reading and please continue to send suggested topics to caitlinvieira@gmail.com

All our printed editions are available online
Subscribe to the Guyana Chronicle.
Sign up to receive news and updates.
We respect your privacy.