I am in my early 30s and have several friends who have recently miscarried. It is hard to know what to say or do for a friend or family member who has lost a pregnancy, and even harder for the person experiencing it.
I am currently pregnant and, when I found out a good friend of mine was pregnant, I was elated. She was eight weeks behind me and really excited to be pregnant. She went in for her first prenatal appointment and everything was progressing the way it should, but at 11 weeks she lost the pregnancy. She sent all of her close friends a Facebook message and told us that she would contact us when she was ready. Many of us – including myself – didn’t know what to say or do to help her. We all just let her know that we were there for her and that if she needed anything to please let us know.
I hope this post helps those who are going through a loss, and their friends and family.
How do you define a miscarriage?
Pregnancy loss (AKA spontaneous abortion) is a pregnancy that ends on its own during the first 20 weeks. Most miscarriages occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 10-25% of all medically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. About 50-75% of all miscarriages occur very early on in the pregnancy, shortly after implantation. Many of these women didn’t even know that they were pregnant. There are different terms used for pregnancy loss, but in the grand scheme of things the terms used really aren’t that important. The most important thing to realize is that it is not your fault. Most miscarriages are due to a chromosomal abnormality (a damaged egg or sperm). Some women can also miscarry because of hormonal problems, age, trauma, improper implantation, exposure to toxic substances, radiation, substance abuse, or severe malnourishment.
What are the signs of a possible miscarriage?
- Weight loss
- Contractions occurring every 5-20 minutes
- White-pink mucus
- Brown or bright red bleeding (not occurring after sex or a pap)
- Clot-like material coming out of the vagina
- No fetal movement (see kick counts for more details)
What can family and friends do to help?
- Ask what you can do to help.
- Listen and don’t give any advice, unless she asks for it.
- Reassure her that whatever she is feeling emotionally (crying, numbness to emotion) or physically (loss of appetite, tiredness, sleeplessness, no energy) is normal and OK.
- Let her know that she should take as long as she needs to grieve. Everyone is different and may need more or less time and support from family and friends.
- Nothing you say is going to change the fact that she had a loss, but it does help to hear that you are there for them if they need you.
- Minimize their loss because it was before the first trimester.
- State that it was “meant to be” or God’s plan.
- Talk about your own loss unless she asks.
- Give advice without being asked.
What Can a Woman Do to Heal After a Miscarriage?
- Remember that you are not alone and there are support groups or counselors available to help you during this difficult time. (call your insurance provider or Employee Assistance Program for more information).
- Never blame yourself. There was nothing you could have done to prevent it from happening.
- Whatever you are feeling is perfectly normal – you shouldn’t compare your grieving process to anyone else’s experience.
- Journaling can be cathartic for some women who have had a loss.
- Finding a special way to commemorate the loss can also be helpful.
- Don’t feel pressured to talk about with friends, family, or your partner if you are not ready.
- Don’t feel pressured to put on a happy face and be the life of the party. You are allowed to feel whatever emotions you are experiencing and may need some alone time.
Do you have any tips that helped you, a family member or friend heal from the loss of a pregnancy? Please feel free to share your tips in our comments section.