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Coping with Miscarriage
June 19, 2013
Whether it's your first month trying or after years of infertility, miscarriage is something that is impossible to be prepared for. It's safe to assume that most people think once you get pregnant, you stay pregnant. When you have a loss, coping with the emotions does not come easy. The world just continues to go about it's business, and you are somehow expected to participate? How on Earth are you supposed to do that?
When you cut yourself, you put a Band Aid on it. When you have a headache, you take a Tylenol. When you're going through a break-up, you pull out the ice cream, watch some girl movies and think about the reasons you broke up in the first place. What do you do when you're heartbroken from a loss? Certainly there isn't anything that will make it easy - but are there things you can do for yourself to make it even just slightly better?
LaTonya Wood, PhD, a psychologist in Beverly Hills who specializes in infertility and has gone through miscarriage and ART herself, says that it's important to be kind to both your body and your emotions.
"More than anything it is most important to take good care of yourself physically and emotionally. For starters, be sure to eat healthy and maintain good physical well-being in order for the body to recover and prepare for conception and pregnancy. Rest, relax and try to reduce stress from your life. I know this is much easier said than done, but it is one critical thing a person can do post-miscarriage for both physical and emotional benefits," she says."Be kind and gentle to yourself. Take a few days off from work. Let yourself grieve and cry."
Dr. Wood says that having people around who support you is also key. "Finding and cultivating a support group so that you can have a welcome and safe place to discuss and explore the multiple emotions surrounding miscarriage is also critical. This support may come in different forms, through religious faith, fertility support groups, counseling, or trusted friends and family."
Of course, just like in dealing with the emotions of infertility, there are people, places and situations it's absolutely healthy to keep your distance from.
"A miscarriage is a painful and traumatic experience and as with any trauma, avoiding the people, places and things that remind you of the loss/trauma might be helpful right immediately after your loss. Some things to possibly avoid can include people who are well-intentioned but just not supportive. Politely excuse yourself from conversations from family and friends who are not understanding of your feelings of loss and disappointment, offering uniformed suggestions and unsolicited advice."
If you've been through infertility, chances are you're already familiar with the less-than-helpful advice the well-intentioned hand out. For some people it's human nature when confronted with the crisis of a loved one to automatically go into 'let me solve this problem!' mode. This is irritating when you're trying to conceive, and it is absolutely not helpful when you've suffered a loss.
"The most important thing a loved one can do is listen and be there for someone," says Dr. Wood. "People have great intentions but at times can say insensitive things. So the best thing a person can do is say I am here if you need anything, be sincere and genuine and open to hearing about the pain and disappointment of the loss, and just listen."
Perhaps most importantly, as hard as it may be to keep in mind, in this situation guilt is a wasted, unnecessary, and cruel emotion.
"One certain thing you can avoid is the urge to blame yourself. Miscarriages, particularly first trimester miscarriages, are very common, happen for a variety of genetic and physiological reasons, and are beyond our control. Feeling guilty or responsible for a miscarriage is not only misplaced blame, it can psychologically interfere with the emotional healing needed to think clearly, use your best judgment, and make decisions about next steps to take in your fertility journey."
After a miscarriage, take a step back from things when you need to. Surround yourself with people who only want to listen, and only give advice after an invitation. Most importantly and above all things, be as kind to yourself as possible.