What’s Life Really Like After a Miscarriage or Stillbirth?

Updated

Pregnancy, like many other big life events, can be full of unexpected twists and turns. In some cases, that means experiencing a loss through miscarriage or stillbirth. 

Jump ahead to these sections:

No matter what point a pregnancy loss occurs, it can be incredibly heartbreaking and difficult to navigate. As painful as it may be, life keeps going after a miscarriage. If you or someone you love experiences a miscarriage or stillbirth, you can help in the healing process by understanding what “normal” means after a miscarriage, how to heal emotionally, and what to do with your life moving forward.

How Long Does It Take For Life to Get Back to Normal After a Miscarriage?

An estimated twenty-six percent of all pregnancies result in miscarriage before twenty weeks gestation, while around one out of one hundred sixty-seven end in stillbirth after twenty weeks. No matter the outcome of a pregnancy, your life will change afterward. The same is true for those who have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth.

It can be easy to feel the pressure to “get back to normal” after a miscarriage. Know that there is no one right length of time for you to feel “normal” again.

A miscarriage can be a big life-changing event, and your idea of normal may very likely have changed. It’s understandable if your priorities, needs, relationships, and pace of life have shifted during this time. Be gentle with yourself by leaving room for these changes.

When thinking about future pregnancies, it’s normal to want to wait before trying to get pregnant again, while other people may want to try as soon as their body is ready. Others may never want to try for pregnancy again. All of these choices are normal and they’re all OK.

While some people may feel back to their normal selves after a few months, others may forever be changed in one way or another. 

Healing is not linear. Some days you may feel back to normal, while others may feel heavy and impossible to get through. These ups and downs can be frustrating, but they will get better over time. 

ยป CAKE FOR ENTERPRISE: Modern companies are approaching death differently for their clients. Learn how Cake can help.

 

How Do People Heal Emotionally After a Miscarriage?

Miscarriages can occur at different points in pregnancy and different points in people’s lives.

Many people believe that the further along in pregnancy someone is, the harder it becomes to cope with a loss. While this may be true for some people, it isn’t always the case. How people heal emotionally after a miscarriage changes from person to person and even from pregnancy to pregnancy.

As difficult as it is, it’s not uncommon for people to experience multiple miscarriages, especially if they’ve had difficulty conceiving. This can make the healing process that much more complicated. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, you can and will heal. 

Be gentle with yourself 

Coping with a miscarriage can look different for everyone. As cliché as it sounds, one of the best ways you can heal emotionally is by giving yourself the space to do so. 

That could mean taking time off work, getting extra help around the house if you have other children, or just not pushing yourself to achieve and do all that you normally would. Take breaks when you need some time. 

Accept that grief is part of the process. It is important to remember that you did nothing wrong, and it’s not your fault. Grief is not something that needs to be ignored or brushed under the rug. Sometimes you have to feel it to move through it. 

Grief and healing can be exhausting. Not only is it OK to not have the same energy levels that you normally have, but it’s also expected. You are healing physically and emotionally. 

Lean on community

Because miscarriage is so common, chances are you can find someone you can relate to. There is healing in community and sharing your experiences with people who have gone through similar losses. 

It’s normal to want to isolate and close off after a loss, but know that your community is there to support you. You can show up snotty-nosed, in three-day-old sweatpants, with unwashed hair, and they will still hold you through your grief. 

Leaning on community can be letting a friend know you need a shoulder to cry on or vent to, asking for extra help with daily chores and activities, or just watching an uplifting movie together.

Read a book on miscarriage

Books and other resources can help you cope with your loss by making you feel less alone, and helping to normalize the experience. There are a growing amount of books about miscarriage or stillbirth, ranging from non-fiction to fiction, to medical texts.

Have a toolkit

There may be moments that feel overwhelming. How are you going to support yourself when that happens? Everyone has their own set of tools. 

What’s in your toolkit?

  • Check the basics. Are you hydrated? Have you eaten? Do you need a nap or to rest?
  • A soothing bath or warm shower can help soothe your nerves.
  • You may want a way to release emotions that are coming up like writing in a journal, drawing a picture, or calling a friend. 
  • Take a step outside. Breathe in some fresh air. Go for a mellow walk if you can. 
  • If you have pets, cuddling with them can help ground you during intense moments. 

While these aren’t permanent fixes for healing from a miscarriage, it’s important to know what tools you have at your fingertips when you feel overwhelmed. One step at a time. 

Seek professional help

While community support can be incredibly healing, you may find it helpful to seek professional services from a licensed mental health worker. 

Some psychologists and therapists are trained in supporting people in loss, including miscarriages. Pregnancies that result in a miscarriage, leave the pregnant person at a higher risk for postpartum depression. The combination of grief and postpartum hormonal shifts can make healing that much more complicated. 

It’s also possible for people to develop anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after a miscarriage. Please consider seeking professional help if you are experiencing persistent symptoms of postpartum depression:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities.
  • Hopelessness, guilt, and anger.
  • Insomnia, restlessness, and fatigue.
  • Intrusive, unwanted, or repetitive thoughts.
  • Suicidal ideations or plans.  

Some of these symptoms may be a normal part of the grieving process and may not necessarily mean postpartum depression. It is up to you whether a psychologist is the right choice or not for your healing journey. 

Although they are not licensed mental health professionals, many full-spectrum doulas are experienced in supporting people through any outcome of pregnancy, including miscarriage and stillbirth. 

If you are unable to find a provider in your area that matches your needs, these resources can be accessed virtually.

What Do People Do With Their Lives After a Miscarriage?

The loss and grief after a miscarriage can feel isolating but know that you are not alone. You can find purpose and a driving force to help lead you to the next chapter of your life. 

Do what brings you joy

Joy is an integral part of the healing journey. What brought you joy before you experienced a miscarriage? These things are still there for you.

Whether it be an adventure in nature, cooking, playing games with friends, or pursuing your passions—do what makes you happy. It’s OK and normal to experience joy and grief, sometimes at the same time. 

Commemorate your loss

You can choose to honor and commemorate your loss in whatever way feels meaningful. This could mean having a ceremony or gathering, or even ordering or making a keepsake. There are many miscarriage keepsake ideas out there like a memorial stone, stuffed animal, or birthstone jewelry.

Become a source of support for others

Sometimes the most devastating events can be the most impactful. Many people can find purpose after a miscarriage by becoming a source of support for others who are going through the same thing.

There are many ways to do this:

  • Writing, whether that be a book, a blog, or creating content on social media. 
  • Become a full-spectrum doula who specializes in supporting people through pregnancy loss.
  • Make yourself available to friends and family, even strangers, to let them know that they’re not alone in this journey. 
  • Some people may even be inspired to become a mental or reproductive health professional like a psychologist or midwife. 

Learn how you can be there for a friend who had a miscarriage and be part of their support system.

Building family

Some people find healing after having a baby after a miscarriage, often called a “rainbow baby.” While this doesn’t erase the loss you have experienced, it can be healing in itself. 

If you are unable or do not want to become pregnant again for any reason, healing is still within your reach. There are other ways to build your family like surrogacy, adoption, foster parenting, developing close friendships, even adopting a pet can bring people healing and purpose. 

Family can look however you need and want it to. 

What’s Life Really Like After a Miscarriage or Stillbirth?

Life after a miscarriage can be confusing and difficult to navigate. Remember that there is no one right way to heal emotionally. Over time, you will feel like yourself again and be able to find purpose and meaning in your life.


Sources:
  1. Dugas, Carla, and Valori H Slane. “Miscarriage.” Stat Pearls Publishing, 29 January 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532992.
  2. “How Common is Stillbirth?” National Institute of Health. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. 1 December 2016, www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/stillbirth/topicinfo/how-common.
  3. Gianneandrea, Stephanie MD and Catherine Cerulli Ph.D. “Increased Risk for Postpartum Psychiatric Disorders Among Women with Past Pregnancy Loss.” National Institute of Health, Journal of Women’s Health, 22 September 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768229.

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.