Whether it be a miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, pregnancy losses happen. When they do, it can be easy to want to brush aside the experience as a means of coping.
The reality is that after a pregnancy loss you are not only healing physically but also emotionally. Every person’s healing journey will look different, but they can all be supported with a quality set of tools to lean on.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Self-Care Practice for After a Miscarriage
- Self-Care Practices for After a Stillbirth
- Self-Care Practices for After an Abortion
- Tips for Encouraging Self-Care for a Loved One Who Had a Pregnancy Loss
Self-care after a miscarriage can encompass everything from physical comfort to emotional support to spiritual care.
If you have experienced a pregnancy loss, here are some self-care tools to turn to as you move forward on your journey. Maybe you’re looking for ways to comfort someone who had a miscarriage. Either way, you’ve come to the right place.
While these tools are divided up into miscarriage, stillbirth, and abortion, pregnancy loss is pregnancy loss, and these tools can be used no matter what your experience was.
Self-Care Practice for After a Miscarriage
While it’s not often talked about, miscarriages can come with grief and heartbreak that usually need time and space to heal. You deserve all the time and self-care you need while coping with a miscarriage.
Here are some tools to turn to during this time:
1. Learn from others
As much as you may feel alone, you’re not the only one. Miscarriages happen, and many people and care providers have reflected on their personal or professional experiences to share information that you can use.
Reading books about miscarriage can give you insight into how to navigate this period of your life. Whether it’s personal memoirs, professional support, or somewhere in between, books can help fill you with insight, inspiration, and clarity.
If books aren’t for you, you can try audiobooks or blogs about grief. Social media is a great place to turn where people share intimate details about their life after miscarriage.
It may seem simple, but rest is one of the best self-care tools out there. Sometimes we need an extra reminder to rest, especially with the societal pressure to get back to normal and carry on with work and everyday life.
Rest is vital for healing your body and spirit. It’s also completely normal to feel fatigued when healing from a miscarriage. Not only is your body in a postpartum state, but grief can also be heavy and exhausting.
You deserve all the rest you need without having to explain yourself to anyone. Know that rest can look different for everyone. Some people may want to cozy up in the bath, while others will want to lounge with a funny movie.
Not that you needed it, but here is your permission to rest.
Self-Care Practices for After a Stillbirth
Stillbirth can be one of the most difficult things someone can go through. You have experienced birth, whether it be vaginal or a cesarean section, and are in a place of grief. While only time can truly help to heal what you have lost, in the meantime it’s okay to focus on yourself and your needs.
Here are some self-care tools to carry you through:
3. Take care of your body
As difficult as it may be, you are in the postpartum period, and your body needs support to recover. The body is healing on so many different levels after birth: hormonal fluctuations, breast changes, fatigue, and the wound inside your uterus from where the placenta was – which can be about the size of a dinner plate.
Rest as mentioned above is of course important for healing. That means taking time off from work and life and only socializing with people who you feel completely comfortable with and supported by.
Some other postpartum tools that you can get from a health foods store or online are homeopathic supplements. These are natural and gentle OTC products that can help regulate any stress the body may be feeling. Helpful remedies to try are Arnica, Bach Rescue Remedy, and After Ease Tincture.
Although side effects are nearly non-existent, you may want to consult your healthcare provider first.
Here are some other ways you can support your healing body:
- Heat packs on your abdomen, back, or wherever you need it
- A postpartum massage – yes, you deserve it
- If you can access it, acupuncture and/or Traditional Chinese Medicine tools can be incredibly impactful for healing postpartum and handling trauma.
4. Find a grief specialist
Sometimes our community is not enough when it comes to navigating the hardship of a stillbirth. Finding a grief specialist who can hold space, listen to your process, and give you practical tools to help you heal is an invaluable self-care tool.
The standard person to turn to here is a psychologist or counselor who specializes in death and loss, but there are plenty more options to choose from.
Other specialists who may provide grief support are:
- Clergy, ministers, rabbis, and other religious advisors
- Mediums, meditation teachers, and those who can help give you a spiritual framework if that resonates with you
- Support groups
- While they may be led by a professional, in a support group you get to meet real-life people who are in a similar place as you. This is invaluable in a time where you might feel incredibly alone.
- A death midwife or death doula
Finding the right support system is even easier these days as most support groups and providers can meet virtually as well as in person.
Self-Care Practices for After an Abortion
Abortions are often so hush-hush that there’s no conversation around the pregnancy loss that the body is experiencing and the mixed bag of emotions that you may have to sort through. It’s normal after an abortion to feel grief, heartbreak, relief, anxiety, or all or none of the above.
No matter how you’re processing your abortion, your feelings are valid. Here are some tools to help you along the way:
5. Find a doula
A doula is someone who supports people through big life transitions. While this typically means birth, other doulas support people through miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth, and death.
While a doula can be incredibly helpful for people who have had a miscarriage or stillbirth, you can also plan to have a doula present during your abortion.
You may be limited to who you can bring into the office if you’re having a surgical abortion. But for medical abortions which are done by taking a pill at home, you can have a doula with you to support you through the process.
Doulas can help you with discomfort during the abortion through things like providing hot water bottles, massaging, keeping you hydrated, giving you snacks, and keeping you warm. Outside of physical comfort, a doula is there to hold space, witness you, and help you process the experience when you’re ready.
Even if you did not have a doula during your abortion, you can still reach out to an abortion or full-spectrum doula after, and they can help you process and lend support.
6. Tune back into your body
People have abortions for all different reasons, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you had yours. That being said, it’s common to feel disconnected from your body after having one.
Your body may not have felt like yourself for a while, or you’re not able to communicate or connect with it in the ways you’re used to. It may take time to “feel like yourself” again.
Not only that, but the body also holds memories, traumas, emotions, and more. When we give ourselves space to tune into our bodies, it’s incredible what can be released.
Here are some ways you can tune into your body:
- Do gentle movement exercises like walking, swimming, stretching, dancing, and yoga.
- Self-massage by grabbing a relaxing body oil, lighting some candles, and taking your time to massage yourself from your head to your feet.
- Spend quiet time in nature. Go for a swim, a hike, or simply sit on the grass and try breathing deeply into your belly.
Tips for Encouraging Self-Care for a Loved One Who Had a Pregnancy Loss
It can be difficult to know how to care for a loved one after they’ve experienced a pregnancy loss.
They might not feel worthy of self-care, or they might be too caught up with grief or fatigue to take the steps to do it. While you want the best for them, be gentle, and understand that even the smallest things like taking a shower can be considered self-care.
Make it easy for them
Instead of just reminding them what self-care tools they like, make it as easy as possible for your loved one to access these tools.
If they love to be pampered or need some physical care, make a massage or bodywork appointment and drive them there. If they love to cook, go get ingredients they like to use, start prepping, and ask if they want to join you. If they like to do art, get out the supplies, or get something that can even be done from bed, like a coloring book.
Know their love language
Knowing your loved one’s love language can help encourage self-care after a pregnancy loss.
- Words of affirmation: Comfort them through kind words, assure them they did nothing wrong, and uplift them with sweet reminders of how incredible they are.
- Acts of service: Take care of little details so that they don’t have to. By walking the dog and doing dishes, it leaves them with extra energy to take a bath or do whatever they need for self-care.
- Receiving gifts: Give them self-care-focused gifts like a beautiful plant to take care of, a book for them to read, or a kit full of bath bombs and face masks.
- Quality time: Spend time with them doing something that brings them joy.
- Physical touch: Self-care can look like massages and cuddling.
Six Self-Care Practices for After a Miscarriage or Pregnancy Loss
Whether you experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, your experience is valid, and so is your need for healing and self-care. So take these tools and try whichever ones resonate with you.
Remember while healing can take time, it will be a little easier by giving yourself the self-care you need.