How to Prevent Miscarriage and Cope with Grief

Knowing how to prevent miscarriage is one thing. Learning how to cope with feelings of grief and mourning is often overlooked when you are struggling with fertility or have experienced several miscarriages in the past. For many women, pregnancy loss is emotionally painful and often associated mood changes linked with feelings of disappointment, anger and depression. Symptoms vary and often include fatigue fatigue, difficulty sleeping, low libido, stress and anxiety and weight changes. Miscarriage prevention involves identifying hidden causes such as genetic and uterine abnormalities, medical conditions, immunological causes, nutritional imbalances, environmental influences, infections and hormonal influences. Although time and comfort are often the best healers of grief, it helps sometimes to understand the causes of miscarriage. At BUMP® fertility, we help you to know what you can do to start coping with your loss and support you to overcome feelings such as shame, lonliness, hurt and deep sadness. Here's how to begin.

Preventing Miscarriage

Miscarriage prevention is often overlooked, with couples provided with simplistic advice to “just keep trying”. Although there is merit in this theory, it is important to understand the causes of pregnancy loss and miscarriage. It is also important to not overlook the feelings of shame, lonliness, hurt and deep sadness.

Roughly 60% of all pregnancy losses are genetic in nature - in these cases, genetic abnormalities of the fetus causes the miscarriage. This leaves about 40% for other miscarriage causes, but exact statistics are hard to come by. The prevalence of the various other causes of pregnancy loss also depends greatly on the patient population being investigated. In general, the later the pregnancy loss occurs, the less likely that it is genetic in nature.

The reasons for miscarriage can include:

  • Genetic (Caused by genetic abnormalities of the developing fetus. Represents up to 60% of all miscarriages. Risk is higher with advanced maternal age.)
  • Uterine abnormalaties (Fibroid tumors or congenital uterine abnormalities such as septae. Can often be resolved with surgery.)
  • Medical Conditions (Diabetes mellitus, thrombophilia, thyroid disease, Stress, infection, PCOS, endometriosis, high cholesterol, nutritional deficiencies etc.)
  • Immunoligical causes (Antiphopholipid Antibody Syndrome (APA), Reproductive Autoimmune Failure Syndrome (RAFS)).
  • Environmental, Lifestyle Inhibitors eg: parasites, toxins etc

Therefore, effective miscarriage prevention involves getting to the cause through expert analysis and independent extensive pathology testing. Most importanlty, it also involves exploring ways to heal emotions and restore confidence.

What is considered to be a miscarriage?

Any unwanted, spontaneous pregnancy loss prior to the 20th week of pregnancy is considered a miscarriage. Miscarriages are a relatively common occurrence, affecting nearly 15% of all pregnancies. However, repeat miscarriages, defined by either three consecutive first-trimester losses or two with one in the first trimester and one in the second trimester, suggests that there may be an underlying medical condition. At BUMP® we recommend women experiencing repeat miscarriages should consult a recurrent miscarriage specialist within our collaborative medical services network to avoid further losses.

Pregnancies that are confirmed only by a blood test (hCG) are considered chemical pregnancies, because the gestation is confirmed through chemical means, instead of ultrasound visualization. Clinical pregnancy is pregnancy that has reached a stage where the gestation can be seen on ultrasound. Miscarriages refer to losses of pregnancies that reached this “clinical” stage, past the chemical stage.

The miscarriage of a clinical pregnancy can take place either before or after the ultrasound show a fetal heart rate. In a normally progressing pregnancy, a fetal heart should be present sometime between approximately 5.5 and 6 weeks from the first day of last menstrual period. If a pregnancy stops growing before fetal heart, or if no heart is seen by the expected time (which is usually a sign of an abnormal pregnancy), then the pregnancy is generally considered to be a “blighted ovum” or missed abortion.

Whether a pregnancy loss occurs before or after fetal heart activity is quite important, because the timing of the miscarriage can provide a hint at the underlying cause.

Grief and Mourning after Miscarriage and Pregnancy loss

Many women form an attachment to their baby early on in the pregnancy so after a miscarriage, they're likely to go through a period of mourning and grief. There are several stages to grief and these are:

  • Denial a refusal to believe or acknowledge what has happened
  • Anger often blaming yourself or others for the loss
  • Bargaining striking a deal with yourself or someone else to have things return normal
  • Depression feeling flat, tired, lost, guilty, punished, unable to enjoy life with no future goals
  • Acceptance that life will go on and getting your enthusiasm for life back

The Grief and Mourning Period with Miscarriage

Without counselling and therapeutic support, grief and mourning a miscarriage can last for many years and coping with feelings of grief is challenging, intense and debilitating. This is why it is important to receive the right support and it's never too late to start. At BUMP® we help you to heal and these feelings will begin to decrease and it is usual to experience feelings of restored calm, well-being, and self acceptance. Evidence supports accessing the right support with counselling and healing modalities makes a difference.

During the mourning period, however, a couple’s emotions may cause conflict as they mourn the loss, especially if they were trying hard to conceive for a long period of time. It can also raise feelings of frustration and anger if they have suffered more than one miscarriage, and they may also be feelings of fear and sadness that they may be unable to carry a pregnancy to term. Other feelings such as emptiness, irritability, worthlessness or jealousy are also common.

Grief Responses are Different for Couples

It’s not unusual for couple’s grief experience after miscarriage to differ. This is because one partner may have less of an emotional attachment to the pregnancy in the early months and they may feel less grief by the miscarriage. This can cause hurt, misunderstanding and conflict in a marriage as each partner tends to expect the other to react to the miscarriage in the same way they do.

What’s important to remember is the mourning is a process and healing from grief takes time. Support with therapeutic nutrients and herbs is also helpful, alongside counselling and vibrational therapies to assist in getting things back on track.

Eventually, with the right support and guidance, the pain of a miscarriage will diminish and you will start to feel good again, but until then, take the time you need to grieve.

10 Ways to Cope with Loss

Though there's nothing you can do to "rush" the mourning process, there are simple ways you can take care of yourself as you heal.

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  • 1. Ask for help in telling others
  • 2. Don't take well intended comments to heart
  • 3. Help others understand
  • 4. Don't apologize for your pain
  • 5. Seek support from others
  • 6. Seek professional help
  • 7. Ask for more help around the house
  • 8. Keep in tune with your feelings and nurture your relationship
  • 9. Invest in independent testing and explore other causes
  • 10. Look towards the future and do positive things every day
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