Pregnancy loss: How to cope
Pregnancy loss changes your family forever. To survive the emotional impact of pregnancy loss, take good care of yourself and turn to others for support.By Mayo Clinic Staff
Pregnancy loss is devastating, no matter when it happens or what the circumstances are. With time, however, comes healing. Allow yourself to mourn your pregnancy loss and accept what's happened — and then look toward the future.
Understand the grieving process
After a pregnancy loss, you might experience a range of emotions, including:
- Denial. At first, it might be impossible to grasp what's happened. You might find yourself in shock or disbelief.
- Guilt. You might wonder if you could have done anything to avoid the pregnancy loss.
- Anger. No matter what caused your loss, you might be angry at yourself, your spouse or partner, your doctor, or a higher power. You might also feel angry at the unfairness of your loss.
- Depression. You might develop symptoms of depression — such as loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, changes in eating or sleeping habits, and trouble concentrating and making decisions.
- Envy. You might intensely envy expectant parents. It might suddenly seem like babies and pregnant women are everywhere you look.
- Yearning. You might experience feelings of deep or anxious longing and desire to be with your baby. You might also imagine what you would be doing with your baby now.
Other loved ones, including the baby's grandparents, might experience similar emotions including anxiety, bitterness and helplessness.
Grieving takes time. During the grieving process some emotions might pass quickly, while others linger. You might skip others completely.
You might also experience setbacks, such as feelings of anger or guilt creeping back after you thought you had moved on. Certain situations — such as attending a baby shower or seeing a new baby — might be difficult to face. That's OK. Excuse yourself from potentially painful situations until you're ready to handle them.
June 25, 2016
- Bardos J, et al. A national survey on public perceptions of miscarriage. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2015;125:1313.
- Kropmans L, et al. Support for mothers, fathers and families after perinatal death. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2013;6.
- Boynton P. Miscarriage: You don't have to be strong for me. The Lancet. 2015;385:222.
- Robinson GA. Pregnancy loss. Best Practice & Research: Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 2014;28:169.
- Chaisson J. Reflection: When a baby dies. Canadian Nurse. 2014;110:12.
- Huffman CS, et al. Couples and miscarriage: The influence of gender and reproductive factors on the impact of miscarriage. Women's Health Issues. 2015;25:570.
- Early pregnancy loss. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/faq090.pdf. Accessed May 15, 2016.
- Kulathilaka S, et al. Depressive disorder and grief following spontaneous abortion. BMC Psychiatry. 2016;16:100.
- Ockhuijsen HDL, et al. Pregnancy after miscarriage: Balancing between loss of control and searching for control. Research in Nursing & Health. 2014;37:267.
- Rink BD, et al. Recurrent pregnancy loss. In: Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 15, 2016.
- Mental Health America. Coping with loss: Bereavement and grief. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/coping-loss-bereavement-and-grief. Accessed May 15, 2016.
- Coping with your loss and grief. Mayo Clinic Patient Education. (2012). Accessed May 15, 2016.
- Young C. et al. Creating and retaining memories. In: Parents and Bereavement: A Personal and Professional Exploration of Grief. Oxford University Press; 2012. Accessed May 15, 2016.
- Wick MJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 5, 2016.