Coping with pregnancy loss

Couples deal with the emotional aspects of pregnancy loss differently, and men and women may also experience different emotions, at different times. There is certainly no right or wrong way to feel.

Some people are not deeply affected, and will be able to put the pregnancy loss behind them and move on after a short amount of time.

For others, however, a pregnancy loss is a blow to themselves, their hopes and intentions about the baby-to-be and their thoughts about starting a family. Many couples can clearly recall their decision to start to try for a baby, a decision that brings their hopeful intentions into clear focus and when a pregnancy is lost, those happy intentions are thwarted and the hopes, even fantasies, about the planned baby are dashed.

There’s often little chance to prepare oneself emotionally for such a loss. For some, the loss is so sudden it is impossible to prepare for it. For others, the loss occurs after a period of bleeding where hope may still be held that perhaps the pregnancy might go on. In either situation, the grief can be very intense and it can be accompanied by guilt and many questions of what went wrong and what could I have done? The reality is there is probably nothing you could have done and many times there will be no explanation.

The intensity of the grief relates to the meaning and the significance of the loss. When the pregnancy has occurred after either a lengthy period of trying to conceive or following infertility treatment, the sense of hopelessness, the despair over ever being able to have a baby, can be overwhelming.

Grief after pregnancy loss is often poorly understood by others. Well intentioned but misguided comments (which convey this poor understanding) can add to a sense of isolation in one's grief. If the pregnancy loss occurred early in pregnancy, there may be little, if any, real acknowledgement of the loss. If the pregnancy enters the second trimester and foetal movement is experienced, the fetus becomes a baby to you even though a pregnancy loss under 20 weeks is not considered in law as the death of a baby.

It is important to emphasise that miscarriage is a very major loss for many couples and it is normal to grieve such a loss and that grief can come in waves. It is also normal (but often bewildering) to experience a range of other emotions as part of one's grief including sadness, anger, guilt, helplessness and despair. Some women experience clinical depression as a reaction to losing the pregnancy.

We offer a counselling service for couples who have experienced pregnancy loss, to help them through this difficult time.

At Genea we have a number of Fertility Specialists who specialise in miscarriage and we also have a Miscarriage Management Program. If you’ve experienced multiple miscarriages then an initial appointment with a Fertility Specialist may be a good starting point.