You might be surprised to learn that between 10-20 percent of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage. This number might seem low to you, but that’s because there are many cases that go unreported. While there are certain risk factors like advanced maternal age, and chronic conditions such as diabetes, anyone can experience this loss of pregnancy.
For women who have struggled with pregnancy loss, the process from grieving to healing isn’t easy. Here are a few personal stories, as well as some suggestions from Clinical Psychologist Jennifer Powell-Lunder, Psy.D for how you can help heal your body and mind.
Rebecca Jalbert was 29 and thrilled when she found out that she was pregnant. “I told so many people and they told so many people, so it was a very exciting time,” says Jalbert. Her joy, however, was short-lived when she found out from her obstetrician at just short of nine weeks that she was going to miscarry.
“I knew what a miscarriage was, but I never fully understood what it would mean emotionally until I went through it,” she explains. “I was devastated that this baby was gone.”
According to Dr. Powell-Lunder, the emotional wreckage from a miscarriage can have far-reaching effects on families–particularly on the mothers-to-be.
“This a very emotional experience so it’s not uncommon for a woman to feel fatigued and depressed,” says Dr. Powell-Lunder. “A woman may find herself sleeping too much or too little, her appetite may increase or decrease, and it’s also not uncommon for a woman to continue to feel pregnant,” she explains. “This can be very difficult; it takes time for the body to readjust.”
Katie O. suffered similarly when she was first told she was miscarrying. “I blamed my body for not working properly and it made me realize how badly I wanted to have a baby,” she admits. “At the same time it made me feel like I would never be able to have one.”
Dr. Powell-Lunder can identify with these stories since she also had two miscarriages. “Having been through it myself, I know how emotional and stressful the situation can feel,” she says. “It’s helpful to know you’re not alone and it’s important to focus on what the future will bring.”
Can I Prevent a Miscarriage?
According to some statistics, nearly 60 percent of all pregnancy loss is due to genetic factors. That leaves a large number of women to wonder ‘why?’
In terms of prevention, there’s not a lot you can do other than seeking regular prenatal care and avoiding known risk factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and using unprescribed medications.
How Can I Recover From This Loss?
Recovering from a miscarriage is an important part of healing the body and mind. Here are some steps you can take from Dr. Powell-Lunder:
Take care of yourself. You deserve some pampering.
Seek out and accept support. It helps to know you are far from alone.
Communicate with your partner and allow your partner to help you heal.
Focus on what you can do. If your doctor recommends tests for example, follow through. A proactive approach to the situation will help you feel more empowered.
Give yourself time to heal.
It’s important to note that multiple miscarriages (classified as more than two) merits a conversation with your gynecologist and/or obstetrician to discuss possible causes and options. This could result in testing which you’ll discuss with your physician.
It’s also noteworthy to say that the three women featured in this article all went on to have healthy pregnancies and children. They shared their stories with the hope of encouraging and supporting other families.
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Tara Weng is formerly a medical/features producer at the NBC television affiliate in Boston, MA, and National Editor of Health/Parenting channel at GalTime.com.