What’s Miscarriage Counseling? And How Does It Work?

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Having a miscarriage can transform one of the most exciting times in a person’s life into a heartbreaking, and possibly traumatic, experience.

A miscarriage can send shockwaves through your life. Not only are you healing physically, but you’re processing grief, possibly guilt, and what could have been. And after a pregnancy loss, your body still experiences postpartum hormonal shifts, which can affect your moods and emotional wellbeing. 

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No matter what your fertility journey has looked like, a miscarriage can be a huge life event that you may need outside support to help process and heal from. Outside support may include your partner, friends, family, a doula, or even a mental health professional who specializes in miscarriage counseling and pregnancy loss. 

What’s Miscarriage Counseling?

Coping with a miscarriage is something no one should do alone. Having a miscarriage can trigger feelings of hopelessness and, in some cases, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions.

There are great tools you can utilize on your own, like starting a grief journal and collecting miscarriage keepsakes. But often, these aren’t enough. If your miscarriage is greatly impacting your daily life, or if you just need help processing it, there are professionals who are there for you. That’s where miscarriage counseling comes in.

Miscarriage counseling is a type of therapy or counseling that is geared towards people who have experienced a miscarriage or pregnancy loss. It’s facilitated by a licensed therapist who specializes in reproductive loss or a related specialty.

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What’s the Difference Between Regular Counseling, Grief Counseling, and Miscarriage Counseling?

There are many overlaps between regular counseling, grief counseling, and miscarriage counseling, but there are also some distinct differences.

Typically, this comes down to the provider’s area of expertise and experience. Some may provide all three types of counseling, but typically they will specialize in one specific area. 

Miscarriage counseling is unique in that unlike grief counseling, you don’t have memories about this person to look back on; you only have an idea of what could have been. You’re left with shattered hopes for the future instead of the sweet memories that you experienced.

While people come to support loved ones after a death, often when someone has a miscarriage, they are left on their own, feeling invisible. Many people who have a miscarriage feel guilt or shame around their mourning, which prevents them from expressing their grief. 

Miscarriage counseling can help give them tools for navigating this unique yet painful experience.

Who’s Miscarriage Counseling Typically For?

Miscarriage counseling is for anyone who has been impacted by a miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

This of course includes the person who was pregnant, but it often includes their partner, as well as children.  

Partners and children are often left out of the miscarriage discussion, but they too can experience grief and loss, even if they didn’t physically experience the pregnancy. 

Miscarriages can have an impact on your relationship, which can lead to problems with your partner. Miscarriage counseling can help you both sift through this and improve your relationship. 

What Happens During a Miscarriage Counseling Session?

One of the most fundamental things a marriage counselor can help with is emotional support, a non-judgmental ear to listen, and space to talk about something you might not feel comfortable discussing with the people in your life.

While there is no specific model for miscarriage counseling, there are techniques and modalities that are more commonly used.

EMDR

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a technique that is used to treat PTSD, including the trauma of a miscarriage. This modality uses bilateral stimulation while someone recounts their memory of the traumatic event, and helps them process it in a new way.

This process can be intense and is typically done in combination with other tools like talk therapy and other self-care tools that your therapist will guide you through

Cognitive behavioral therapy

CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, is a tool that is used to help people develop more mindfulness around their thought processes and the patterns that control negative behavioral and emotional problems. 

For people who have had miscarriages, this can help them change detrimental thought patterns and create healthier thoughts around the fertility journey. 

How Do You Know If You Need Miscarriage Counseling?

You may be going back and forth on whether or not you need miscarriage counseling. While this is a decision that only you can make, here are some things to take into consideration:

Clinical symptoms

Researchers found that nearly 20% of people who had experienced a miscarriage experienced symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. For many of these people, symptoms persisted for one to three years.

If you’re experiencing persistent symptoms of clinical depression, anxiety, or PTSD after experiencing a miscarriage, professional support may be necessary.

Here are some symptoms to watch out for:

  • Sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Difficulties with your relationships and work
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Change in appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping and/or exhaustion
  • Physical symptoms like nausea, dizziness, and aches
  • Irritability, anger, and rage

How long since your miscarriage?

It’s perfectly fine to seek counseling at any point in time after your miscarriage, or even beforehand if you’re worried one may happen.

If your symptoms are persisting for months, even years on end, and are greatly interfering with your daily life, counseling may be beneficial. 

You’ll most likely experience initial feelings of grief and exhaustion right after your miscarriage, but if the symptoms persist over time, it could be indicative of a clinical disorder. 

That being said, it doesn’t mean that you need to wait for symptoms to worsen to seek counseling.

If you want to

You don’t have to have a specific reason for wanting to get miscarriage counseling.

If it feels like something that will benefit you, that’s reason enough. Even if you do feel like you’re healing from your miscarriage, having a counselor can help you process further, create meaning around your experience, and move forward in life.

Tips for Finding Miscarriage Counseling Near You

Now that you’ve decided to seek miscarriage counseling, you’re probably wondering how to find a specialist.

A counselor, like any relationship, has to be the right fit for you and your needs. It may feel overwhelming to try and find someone who you trust and feel safe with.

Here are some tips to help make the process easier:

Look on Psychology Today

Psychology Today is a website dedicated to helping people connect with a counselor or therapist that fits their needs.

The website has filters that allow you to enter your zip code, insurance information, types of therapy you’re looking for, demographics a therapist works with, and what areas they specialize in.

Here you can select someone that specializes in “pregnancy, prenatal, and postpartum,” “grief,” and “women’s issues.” Some counselors offer free consultations so you can get a feel for what they offer before committing to a session. 

Reach out to birthwork and parenting communities

Miscarriages are more common than you may think. While you may feel alone in this experience, there are countless others who have been through it and are more than happy to share their resources.

Try reaching out to local birth worker and parenting communities to find recommendations for a miscarriage counselor

Here are some ways you can do this:

  • On social media: There are plenty of birth worker and parenting groups and pages where you can connect with other people.
  • Birth centers: Most birth centers understand the importance of supporting people through pregnancy loss. They can refer you to someone who can help.
  • Miscarriage support groups: You may have local groups or find an online forum that you can reach out to. While you may want in-person support, it is also possible to find a counselor who can work with you remotely.

Trust your gut

Recommendations are great, but at the end of the day, you know yourself better than anyone. If someone does, or doesn’t, feel like the right fit for you, trust your gut. 

The same goes for walking away from a counselor who isn’t working for you. If someone doesn’t seem compatible with what you’re looking for in a counselor, then trust that and don’t be afraid to find a new one. 

Miscarriage Counseling: Things To Remember

Only you can decide if miscarriage counseling is the right step for you. Ultimately, counseling is a tool that can help you manage symptoms of mental health issues, process your experience and the grief that comes with it, give you tools to move forward in life, and much more.

Know that it can take a few tries sometimes to find the right therapist, so don’t be afraid to shop around and try multiple consultations before deciding on one. 

The right support is out there for you. You’re not alone. 


Sources:

  1. Farren, Jessica; Maria Jalmbrant. “Post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression following miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy: a prospective cohort study.” BMJ Open. BMJ Journals. 2 November. bmjopen.bmj.com.
  2. Nynas, Johnna, MD; Puneet, Narang, MD. “Depression and Anxiety Following Early Pregnancy Loss: Recommendations for Primary Care Providers.” The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders. National Institutes of Health. 29 January 2015. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

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