Having a miscarriage can turn your world upside down and shake your life up. Although about 26% of all pregnancies result in miscarriage, there isn’t much conversation around what to expect and how to process the experience.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Is It Normal to Feel Anxious After a Miscarriage?
- How Long Does Anxiety Typically Last After a Miscarriage?
- Tips for Dealing With Anxiety After a Miscarriage
- Tips for Helping a Loved One Deal With Anxiety After a Miscarriage
Miscarriages typically come without warning or an explanation of what to expect emotionally. It’s not uncommon to feel shock, sadness, despair, grief, and anxiety after a pregnancy loss.
Anxiety after miscarriage can make it difficult to go about your daily life, connect with your loved ones, and process the experience. Although you may not be able to prevent anxiety completely, there are steps you can take to help you accept and heal from the anxiety when you’re coping with a miscarriage.
Is It Normal to Feel Anxious After a Miscarriage?
Just like sadness and grief, anxiety after a miscarriage is normal. Knowing this, however, doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
A study from 2019 found that 18% of women who experienced early pregnancy loss had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder nine months after the loss.
Just because you’re dealing with anxiety does not mean you necessarily have PTSD. But it’s important to look out for long-term symptoms like anxiety, depression, and panic attacks that interfere with your daily life for a long time.
How Long Does Anxiety Typically Last After a Miscarriage?
Life after a miscarriage can feel like it drags on or like you’re living a life outside of your own. Everyone has their own timeline when it comes to healing from a miscarriage. Healing is not linear, so there may be times when you feel “back to normal” and then feel anxious again the next day.
On average, people will start to feel less anxious after the first few months after a miscarriage. This isn’t an exact number, and of course, will vary from person to person. There may be things that trigger anxiety, like your original due date, the anniversary of your miscarriage, or seeing a baby or pregnant person out in public.
Anxiety can be further complicated if you’re hoping to conceive again or if you get pregnant again, as well as for people who already had a history of anxiety or mental health disorders.
Tips for Dealing With Anxiety After a Miscarriage
Anxiety is a natural reaction to the shock of a miscarriage. Although it’s uncomfortable, there are tools you can use to help you navigate it and feel a sense of normalcy.
Here are a few of those tips:
1. Support your body and nervous system
Anxiety tends to keep us in our heads and out of our bodies, especially when the source of that anxiety is from a process that happened with your body. It’s natural to disassociate from that, or from feelings that remind you of your miscarriage or pregnancy.
That tendency to dissociate is often your mind and body’s way of protecting you from further trauma, but it can also prolong or exacerbate symptoms of anxiety.
You can help to circumvent this by engaging in practices that help take you out of your head and get you back in your body. If you already had things you did that helped you get in your body before your pregnancy, you might want to try a toned-down version of that or something that is appropriate for where you’re at physically.
Here are a few ways you can help yourself get into your body:
- Do gentle yoga, dancing, movement, or exercise.
- Swim in a pool or body of water.
- Take a bath or shower.
- Practice breathing exercises or just take some deep belly breaths.
- Go for a hike or get some fresh air.
- Get a massage or self-massage.
- Play with your pets if you have any.
- Go to an acupuncturist, naturopathic doctor, or another practitioner who can help with anxiety.
2. Know your tools
We all have different things that work for us. It helps to know what your tools are before you start feeling especially anxious. This way, you don’t have to think about it; you can just lean on those tools when anxiety starts creeping up.
It might take some trial and error to figure out what those tools are. You may be able to rely on tools you had before the miscarriage, or those might not seem like enough anymore.
Here are some tools you can use to help you deal when anxiety creeps up:
- Focus on your breath. You can try the “box breath”—inhale through your nose and into your belly for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale through your mouth for four seconds. You can try lengthening the breath over time.
- Try journaling. You can jot down whatever is on your mind or use prompts like “What do I need at this moment?” “How does my heart feel?” and, “My intentions for today are ________.”
- Have a fidget toy like a rock or crystal, a talisman, a keychain, or something of the sort.
- Have a go-to person that you can talk to or can spill what’s on your mind to.
3. Take a break
Sometimes the everyday hustle and bustle of life doesn’t leave room for healing. This can leave us feeling anxious and discombobulated, especially after an experience like a miscarriage.
You may want to see if your work offers bereavement leave for miscarriage. This may depend on the state you live in and the company you work for, but it is worth checking in about if that feels right for you.
While it’s not always possible to totally take a break from life, sometimes we just need a little space. This might mean choosing not to socialize, taking more time at home, lightening your workload, and taking the pressure off yourself to do too much.
4. Seek community support
Part of the anxiety and emotions people feel after a miscarriage comes from feeling alone in that experience.
You’re not alone. There are so many other people who have been through what you’re going through and are there for you to build a support system with.
Although this might not make your anxiety go away, it can help to have someone else to relate to or share what’s going on in your head with.
This could include miscarriage support groups, whether they be in person or online, or friends and family members that you trust.
5. Seek professional support
Whether or not your symptoms are severe or interfering with your daily life, almost everyone can benefit from some sort of professional emotional support after a miscarriage.
You can look for a therapist or counselor who specializes in reproductive health issues or grief and loss. You may also find support through a full-spectrum doula or a death doula or midwife.
Tips for Helping a Loved One Deal With Anxiety After a Miscarriage
It can be so difficult to watch a loved one suffering or dealing with anxiety after they experience a miscarriage. This may make you feel at a loss or helpless.
While you may not be able to take their anxiety away, there are things you can do to help them.
1. Know their signals
It can be helpful to know what your loved one’s signals or tendencies are when they are feeling anxious.
They might start to withdraw, stumble through their words, talk too much, fidget their hands, or something along those lines.
Sometimes when they’re feeling triggered, it can be difficult to ask for what they need. Know what helps them get grounded, and offer it before they ask. This could be a quick massage, a hug or cuddle, water or a snack, comforting words, or some sort of distraction.
2. Educate yourself
You might not know exactly what they’re going through, but you can familiarize yourself with the process by learning about miscarriage experiences.
You can do this by reading blogs and forums online, watching YouTube videos, and reading books about experiencing a miscarriage.
This will help to give you a frame of reference, as well as tools to help your loved one navigate the anxiety they’re experiencing.
You Will Get Through It
When you’re in a cycle of anxiety, it can feel all-consuming. You may not see a clear pathway out of it, but it is there. Healing from a miscarriage can take time, but knowing what tips and tools help you specifically will make the process that much easier.
You are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek out multiple levels of support to lean on. Trust yourself and your ability to move through these feelings. You may intuitively know just what you need to help you heal.
- Dugas, Carla, and Valori H Slane. “Miscarriage.” Stat Pearls Publishing, 29 January 2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
- Farren, Jessica Ph.D., and Maria Jalmbrant, DClinPsy. “Posttraumatic stress, anxiety and depression following miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy: a multicenter, prospective, cohort study.” Original Research Obstetrics. 01 April 2020, ajog.org.