Experiencing a miscarriage can be traumatic, scary, emotionally draining, and physically exhausting. It can also be a whirlwind experience. Often, we have to make quick decisions to move forward. Other times, the experience can last a few weeks. During this time, and post-miscarriage, there are several important things for us to consider.
Here are a few tips for surviving your miscarriage experience:
1. Ask every question!
Speak to your doctor to learn about the experience. Sometimes, we find out in our doctor’s office. Use the appointment time to ask every question you can. Do not be afraid to follow-up after your appointment if other questions surface. The first step in advocating for yourself is having answers to your questions.
When we first become pregnant, we are often excited and hopeful. It typically isn’t at the top of our list to educate ourselves on miscarriage after a positive pregnancy test. Thus, we often aren’t educating ourselves before a miscarriage happens. So, be ready to ask all of the questions you have.
2. Learn what your options are.
Once your miscarriage is confirmed, do you want to miscarry naturally, without medical intervention? Do you want medical intervention? Do you want a D&C? Also, are you able to do any genetic testing to confirm why there may have been a loss?
When I miscarried my third child, I was at an emergency room, where they took the fetus to confirm that it was, in fact, a fetus. I spoke to my doctor the following morning, and she recommended the hospital send the fetus for genetic testing to verify the cause of the loss. By the time I contacted the hospital, they were unable to do genetic testing because the pathology lab had disposed of the fetus. If I had known right at the emergency room, I might have had an answer as to why I miscarried. So, get all of your information upfront, and learn all of your options.
3. Follow up with your doctor to ensure you have completely miscarried.
Incomplete miscarriages can cause complications, including heavy and prolonged bleeding, pain, or an infection.
4. Take time off from work.
In March, 2021, New Zealand approved paid leave for individuals after miscarriage. This the first country in the world to have a policy in place for miscarriage, and applies to couples who lose a pregnancy at any point. Unfortunately, we in the United States do not have this as a national response to pregnancy loss, but some companies may have policies around time-off after a miscarriage. Even if your company doesn’t have official leave policies for pregnancy loss, use the vacation and sick time that you have to help yourself heal and recover (And, if they don’t have official leave policies, once you’re feeling better, this is a good area for advocating for reforming your company policies).
5. Find a therapist or support group.
There are therapists who specialize in pregnancy loss. A great resource for finding a therapist or support group is at the directory at Postpartum Support International.
6. Build your support system.
Talk to those people you love and trust. There are going to be some people who might not be able to provide you with the emotional support you need. And, while that may be challenging at first, it allows you to identify those people you really can lean on during this time.
In her book, Rising Strong, Brené Brown has an exercise to help us identify the people in our support system: draw a 1-inch by 1-inch box, and write the names of everyone you can trust completely. These people are supportive, caring, and completely honest with you. This box is small, but it’s meant to be small so you only have space for 2 or 3 people you can really count on.
7. Prioritize your wellness.
This can be especially hard when you are grieving. But prioritizing our wellness is essential. During this time, make sure you are resting, getting good sleep, drinking lots of water, eating balanced and healthy meals, and exercising (once your doctor gives you the go-ahead). I also include emotional wellness activities, such as meditation, prayer, talking with a friend, or engaging in hobbies we enjoy.
8. Treat yourself.
After our second miscarriage, my husband and I went out to a fancy restaurant that we had wanted to go to for quite some time. We treated ourselves to whatever we wanted on the menu. I look back at that night fondly. While we were sad and grieving, it was a chance for us to connect and find joy in our time together. This is a time to treat and pamper yourself. Eat a fancy meal, have a spa day, travel for a weekend get-away. Do whatever you need to do to treat yourself!