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How to cope after a miscarriage

By Faeza
21 April 2017

LOSING your unborn baby is traumatic. Many women in South Africa experience

this every day. Statistics show that about 15 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Here are tips to help you cope with miscarriage.

WHAT IS A MISCARRIAGE!

A miscarriage is a loss of a developing baby before you are 26 weeks pregnant. After 26 weeks, the loss of the unborn baby is referred to as a ‘stillborn’ birth because the baby would have had a chance of surviving outside the womb if it had been born at this stage.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM HAVING A MISCARRIAGE?

The most common symptoms of miscarriage are extreme pain and cramping in your pelvic area (it may feel like very bad period pains). In addition, women bleed heavily, which can result in blood clots. Don’t panic if you bleed just a few drops of blood early in you pregnancy – this happens to many women and is usually not a cause for concern.

WHAT SHOULD I DO?

If you have a private doctor, phone him immediately. Otherwise, go straight to the hospital.You will need to be examined so that the doctor can decide on the best treatment. If it's a very early miscarriage, you may not need any treatment – your uterus will empty

itself in a way that will feel like a heavy period. However, if some of the tissue has

remained in your uterus, the doctor is likely to recommend a procedure known as a dilation and curettage (D&C). Before the D&C, you will be given a general anesthetic.

The doctor will open your cervix and remove any remaining tissue in order to prevent possible infection.

CAUSES OF MISCARRIAGE

Miscarriage can be caused by many factors that are not under your

control. A few of these are:

¦ Your hormone levels: A certain level of progesterone is required to maintain a healthy pregnancy.

¦ Chromosomal problems: In some cases, a miscarriage occurs as there is no chance of a healthy baby developing.

¦ Weakened cervix: The muscle weakness can cause the cervix to open too early during pregnancy, leading to a miscarriage.

¦ Having an immune system disorder: In this case, the mother’s immune system attacks the baby.

¦ Illnesses: Mothers with congenital heart disease, kidney disease or uncontrolled diabetes

are more likely to miscarry.

¦ Infection: Infections like chicken pox, mumps, measles and syphilis can also increase the risk of miscarriage.

PHYSICAL RECOVERY

If you had a D&C, you will usually be booked off work for about a week and be advised to stay in bed and rest. You'll have some pain and bleeding in the days after the procedure. You are likely to get a new period between four and seven weeks after the miscarriage.

Most doctors recommend waiting until you’ve had three normal cycles before you try to fall pregnant again.

EMOTIONAL RECOVERY

Recovering emotionally from a miscarriage is much harder than the physical recovery. You will probably go through a range of emotions, from resentment to guilt, feelings of loss and emptiness. Here are some tips to help you deal with these emotions:

GUILT

Many women think the miscarriage is their fault because they exercised too hard at the gym, worked too hard or had rough intercourse. However, in the vast majority of cases, a miscarriage is not your fault and you cannot do anything to prevent it. Stop blaming yourself for your loss.

LOSS AND EMPTINESS

No matter how far along you were in your pregnancy, you will feel a sense of loss.

It may help you to choose a name for the baby you lost and then you can refer to them as a person, and write them a letter as you deal with emotions. You could also do something symbolic, like plant a flower garden in remembrance of them.

RESENTMENT

It's normal to feel resentful of other pregnant women. You will be angry that you lost your baby while they did not. It's important to remember that you are not a bad person for

feeling this way, you are just going through the grieving process. Make it easier for yourself by avoiding baby showers and chats with pregnant women for the next few months while you are recovering physically and emotionally. You are allowed to feel sad for a few weeks and to withdraw from the world but if you start feeling suicidal, then you must reach out to someone for assistance. At this difficult time, you need the support of your family, close friends or a professional who will listen without judging you. Phone a friend you trust or

organisations such as:

¦ Lifeline on 021 461 1113

¦ Compassionate Friends

Association on 011 726 2411

¦ The South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 011

234 4837

You will get through this, and chances are good that will go on to have a successful

pregnancy.