Pregnancy loss is common, especially in the first trimester. Still, the loss of a pregnancy, no matter how early or late, can be an overwhelming experience. You may feel alone, yet as many as one in four women have experienced pregnancy loss.
In our culture, talking about pregnancy loss is uncomfortable, taboo. And it’s this lack of sharing that leaves women feeling alone. So, let’s talk about it.
Experiencing Pregnancy Loss
With pregnancy loss, it’s normal and common to feel grief, sadness, shame, nervousness, fear, guilt, anxiety, and depression. You may envy pregnant moms. These feelings are normal. These feelings may come in waves and periods of feeling better in between, only to cycle back into feelings of grief and loss. If these cycles get worse, talk with your healthcare provider about possible postpartum depression.
You may continue to bleed after a loss for up to a month, including cramping feelings for up to 10 days. Your breasts may be tender, and if the loss was later in pregnancy, your milk may be developing. Wear a supportive bra and use breast pads or cold compresses in areas of tenderness.
Generally, your menstrual period will resume within 4 to 6 weeks. Changes in hormone levels can cause mood swings and fatigue. To keep your energy up, drink lots of water and make sure you eat, even if your appetite has decreased. Try to stay active but also allow time for rest. Keep a bedtime routine like a calming meditation.
Honor Your Loss
Acknowledge and honor the loss of your pregnancy. Allow yourself privacy, lean on friends and family, and give yourself time and space to mourn. If you have other children, maintain open and honest communication with them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your pregnancy care provider may recommend local support groups. Consider speaking to a therapist or counselor.
Maintain any spiritual practices that are important to you, such as a baptism or a blessing. Hold a memorial or burial to honor traditions and provide closure.
Find comfort in activities that create memories. Consider naming your baby. Keep a memory box of items important to your pregnancy and baby, such as a blanket, ultrasound images or sympathy cards received.
In late pregnancy loss, nurses can help you create your baby’s footprints, cut locks of hair, and take photographs. Hold your baby, spending as much time as you need. Many women find holding their baby provides comfort and closure. Lean into what feels right for you to find the ones that work best for your health.