Feelings and Reactions After a Miscarriage
Many parents describe a range of responses including disbelief, anger, sadness, guilt, heartache and overwhelming confusion. Life may suddenly seem to be “out of control”. Physical reactions such as changes in appetite, sleeping difficulties, a general feeling of being unwell, fatigue and difficulty in concentrating may also be experienced. These are all part of grief and bereavement and are common responses to loss.
Our culture, beliefs and upbringing all influence the way we will express our grief. Families and individuals with a particular culture often have a wide range of attitudes or reactions. All individuals will have different needs, expectations and ways of experiencing and expressing their grief.
As individuals, many parents describe that their thoughts and reactions during bereavement are often different from those of their partner. It can be difficult for partners to maintain effective communication in their relationship while they are experiencing feelings of grief and sadness. This is particularly so when one partner seems to be “getting on with life” and the other is continuing to express sadness. It can seem that one has forgotten and doesn’t care about the miscarriage while the other is not “coping well”.
Try to talk openly and honestly about your own feelings and needs with your partner. Listening to each other’s different needs and expectations may be helpful in understanding your partner’s grief. Just as sadness does not mean you are “not coping”, “getting on with life” does not mean that a person doesn’t care. You may be just experiencing grief differently. Often, your partner cannot be expected to meet all of your needs and it may be helpful to have others to talk to.
There may be times when you withdraw your interest in everything around you. This is a part of normal grieving. It may take weeks or even months before you feel able to return to daily activities. Give yourself time to recover both emotionally and physically. As far as possible, maintain a proper diet and get adequate sleep. Medications often prevent the expression of emotions and are usually unnecessary.
Future events such as your expected date of delivery, the anniversary of your miscarriage, another pregnancy and significant family occasions may be difficult for you. Planning for these occasions ahead of time may be helpful.
Often, couples who have experienced a miscarriage feel isolated and lonely, particularly when others around them are expecting babies. It can be painful to see pregnant women at work or at the shopping centre, and you may find that you avoid holding other people’s babies for some time.
You may feel very alone in your grief, particularly if other people did not even know you were pregnant. They will not realise what has happened and you may feel awkward and too vulnerable to tell them now. Women without a partner may experience difficulties in having their emotional and physical needs met. It is important to have someone with whom you can share your thoughts and feelings at this time.
After your miscarriage, understanding family members or close friends may provide valuable support. Nevertheless, there may be occasions when you feel particularly alone and support from others may be helpful.
The loss of a previous baby, years of trying to conceive, or prenatal testing and a decision to end the pregnancy, may also influence your responses following miscarriage. The loss of extended family through migration or other personal losses in your life may contribute to your grief. For some parents the pregnancy was not planned and they may not have come to terms with having a baby when miscarriage occurs. For some women, the first time they find out they are pregnant is when they present to their doctor or hospital experiencing symptoms of miscarriage.
Last reviewed: 20/11/23
- Braithwaite, J., Richardson, R. & Waterson, P. (eds.). (2011). Miscarriage: Information for Parents and Families ( M.McSpedden, H. Wilkinson, L. Pash, T. Diamond & M. Zang, Rev.) (7th ed.). Lilyfield, NSW: SIDS and Kids NSW.