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The Emotional Effects of a Miscarriage

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About 10 to 15 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. When yours is one of them, there's no right or wrong way to feel. You might feel angry, guilty and sad all at once, or feel empty for some time. Some women even feel a sense of peace or relief. Nothing but time and a sympathetic sounding board can help you come to terms with your loss.

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Common Emotions After Miscarriage

"For some, miscarriage is an unfortunate blip in their pregnancy history, while for others it is a huge and devastating loss," says Ruth Bender-Atik, national director for The Miscarriage Association, located in the Yorkshire in England.

You may go through the five stages of grief, a process first described by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Denial: Disbelief that your pregnancy has ended. Anger: ... At yourself, your doctor, your partner, God or anyone else you can find to blame. Bargaining: Feelings of guilt, asking yourself "What if?" questions like "If I'm kind to everyone, can I wake up and find this was a dream?" Depression: Deep sadness over your loss. Acceptance: You don't feel "over" the loss, but can accept that it has happened and there's nothing you can do to change that.

You may go through these stages in order or not experience them at all. It may take days to cycle through them or take months.

Other feelings you may experience include: Envy of other women's healthy pregnancies or of the families you see with healthy babies. Loneliness: You may feel like no one understands your feelings, or miss the company of the baby you once carried. Overwhelmed: Dealing with the whirlwind of emotions can be draining. Anxiety: Worry over telling people about your miscarriage or about what will happen during future pregnancies. Relief: even if you wanted the pregnancy, you may feel some relief that it's over or that you're free of some financial burdens of parenthood.

Physical Effects of Grief

The emotional effects of miscarriage can cause you real physical discomfort too. Hormonal changes can intensify the physical symptoms of grief. It's common to feel tired, to cry a lot and to have difficulty sleeping. You could also have a hard time concentrating, lose your appetite or have headaches, stomachaches, constipation or diarrhea.

Your Partner's Emotions

It may be hard to focus on your partner's feelings when you're dealing with so many of your own, but your miscarriage can have all the same emotional effects on him as it has on you. Because he didn't have the physical bond that you had with the baby, your partner may not feel the loss as strongly as you do, but he may still go through through the stages of grief or have the same physical reaction that you do. You won't necessarily grieve at the same pace or feel the same emotions at the same time, though.

Your partner may also be uncomfortable talking about his feelings with you, or act as though everything is fine. The Miscarriage Association's leaflet Partners Too may help yours feel comforted and less alone.

Coping After Miscarriage

"Everyone is different and has to find the way [to process a miscarriage] that's right for them," Bender-Atik says. "Some people want to talk about it, others don't. ...There are no right or wrong ways to feel, but in all cases it can help to have someone to talk to: someone who will listen, without making judgements or trying to cheer you up." Talking to a friend or working with a therapist, even for a short time, may help you sort through your feelings.

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If you feel able to verbalize your needs, try telling the people closest to you what they can do and say to help, as well as what not to do. "Comments like 'Well never mind, there was probably something wrong with it anyway' really don't help!" Bender-Atik advises. The Miscarriage Association's leaflet Someone You Know can give your family and friends tips for helping you cope. Joining a local or online support group of women who have experienced miscarriage may also give you comfort.

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