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Miscarriage The Reality & Emotions of What Happens.

It is a difficult subject to discuss and yet it affects many of us, the fact is up to 1 in 5 pregnancies end in a miscarriage, so you are not alone. Being a difficult and emotional subject, most people/families do not disclose or discuss their loss. Miscarriage can cause many people to feel overwhelmed and even in despair about their physical and emotional state.

To help you to find clarity and understanding, we will explore the realities of miscarriage and what really happens before, during and after this difficult experience.

Whether you or someone you know has experienced a miscarriage, we will be looking at the real facts and experiences, so that you can move forward with understanding and support.

It is important to recognize that the journey of miscarriage, like every individual’s story, is unique. It is essential that you listen to your own body and feelings as you travel this path and find the best ways to heal. We hope that by exploring these realities, we can equip you with the resources and support needed to make that journey.

Marvellous Tip: There is no right or wrong way to feel about a miscarriage, some people accept that the pregnancy was not able to continue while others are devastated at the loss. Never judge, just support.

Who Could Be Affected By Miscarriage?

A miscarriage can affect anyone who is pregnant, including their partner and family members. Miscarriage can be a traumatic and emotionally distressing experience for those involved, and it can impact their mental health and well-being.

The partner of the pregnant person may also experience grief and feelings of loss. It is important for individuals who have experienced a miscarriage to seek emotional support from loved ones, healthcare providers or mental health professionals. It is also important to remember that many people go on to have successful pregnancies after a miscarriage.

Woman who finds fresh blood on toilet paper after wiping herself.

What Is A Miscarriage & What Will I See?

Miscarriage is defined as the loss of a pregnancy within the first 20 weeks. Up to 1 in 5 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks, but many other women miscarry without having realised they are pregnant. The loss of a baby after 20 weeks is called a stillbirth.

Many women experience vaginal spotting in the first trimester that does not result in pregnancy loss.

In The First Month Of Pregnancy

The developing embryo is the size of a grain of rice so it is very hard to see. You may pass a blood clot or several clots from your vagina, and there may be some white or grey tissue in the clots. The bleeding will settle down in a few days, although it can take up to 2 weeks.

At 6 weeks

Most women can’t see anything recognisable when they have a miscarriage at this time. During the bleeding, you may see clots with a small sac filled with fluid. The embryo, which is about the size of the fingernail on your little finger, and a placenta might be seen inside the sac. You might also notice something that looks like an umbilical cord.

At 8 weeks

The tissue you pass may look dark red and shiny — some women describe it as looking like liver. You might find a sac with an embryo inside, about the size of a small bean. If you look closely, you might be able to see where the eyes, arms and legs were forming.

At 10 weeks

The clots that are passed are dark red and look like jelly. They might have what looks like a membrane inside, which is part of the placenta. The sac will be inside one of the clots. At this time, the developing baby is usually fully formed but still tiny and difficult to see.

At 12 to 16 weeks

If you miscarry now, you might notice water coming out of your vagina first, followed by some bleeding and clots. The foetus will be tiny and fully formed. If you see the baby it might be outside the sac by now. It might also be attached to the umbilical cord and the placenta.

From 16 to 20 weeks

This is often called a ‘late miscarriage’. You might pass large shiny red clots that look like liver as well as other pieces of tissue that look and feel like membrane. It might be painful and feel just like labour, and you might need pain relief in hospital. Your baby will be fully formed and can fit on the palm of your hand.

Most miscarriages are a one-off event. About 1 in 100 women experience recurrent miscarriages (3 or more in a row) and many of these women go on to have a successful pregnancy.

Go To Your Emergency Department If You Are:

  • Bleeding very heavily – soaking a pad in an hour or pass clots larger than a golf ball
  • You have a severe pain in your stomach or shoulders
  • You have a fever above 38 degrees C
  • You are feeling faint, dizzy or both
  • You have a bad smelling fluid coming from your vagina
  • You have pain or diarrhoea when you poo

In medical terms, there are two types of miscarriages: complete and incomplete.

A complete miscarriage is when the pregnancy is lost entirely, and all pregnancy tissue has been passed.

An incomplete miscarriage, on the other hand, is when the pregnancy tissue has not been fully passed, and more often than not requires medical help to complete the miscarriage process.

When Could A Miscarriage Happen?

An early miscarriage may happen by chance. But there are several things which are known to increase your risk of a miscarriage happening.

Age can have an influence:

  • in women under 30, 1 in 10 pregnancies will end in miscarriage
  • in women aged 35 to 39, up to 2 in 10 pregnancies will end in miscarriage
  • in women over 45, more than 5 in 10 pregnancies will end in miscarriage

A pregnancy may also be more likely to end in miscarriage if you:

  • are obese
  • smoke
  • use drugs
  • drink lots of caffeine in coffee, tea or energy drinks
  • drink alcohol
  • have had several previous miscarriages

Increased Risks Do Not Include:

  • your emotional state during pregnancy, such as being stressed or depressed
  • having a shock or fright during pregnancy
  • exercise during pregnancy – discuss with your GP what type of exercise is suitable
  • lifting or straining during pregnancy
  • working during pregnancy – or work that involves sitting or standing for long periods
  • having sex during pregnancy
  • travelling by air
  • eating spicy food

Where Would A Miscarriage Affect Me Physically & Mentally?

Physically:

Unfortunately, nothing can stop a miscarriage from happening once it has started. How you deal with it depends on your health and how you feel about what is happening.

Many women have a miscarriage early in their pregnancy without even realising it. They may just think they are having a heavy period. If this happens to you, you might have cramping, heavier bleeding than normal (soaking a pad in an hour), pain in the stomach, pelvis or back and feel weak.

If you are pregnant and have started spotting, remember that this is normal in many pregnancies — but talk to your doctor or midwife to be safe and for your own peace of mind.

What Happens If I Miscarry At Home?

Some women miscarry at home before they have a chance to see their doctor or get to the hospital.

If this happens, then:

  • use pads to manage the bleeding
  • save any pregnancy tissue that you pass for your doctor to test
  • take medications such as paracetamol if you have pain
  • rest
  • call your doctor or midwife

Depending on how long you have been pregnant, there is a chance you may see your baby in the tissue that you pass but often the baby is too small to recognise or may not be found at all. It is normal to want to look at the remains, but you may decide you do not want to. There is no right or wrong thing to do.

Some women miscarry while on the toilet. This can also happen if you are out and about, or in hospital. Again, there is no right or wrong way to handle this.

It is important to remember that physical healing after a miscarriage can take time. Staying on top of your physical health can help in the healing process, so it is important to regularly check in with your doctor or midwife. They can provide the necessary medical advice and support needed during this recovery period.

Woman crying holding a teddybear with a red heart

Mentally:

The mental affects of miscarriage are often underestimated, as it can be a difficult and overwhelming experience. It is not uncommon for people to feel a deep sense of loss, as well as emotions such as guilt, sadness, anxiety, and even anger. There may also be feelings of regret, especially if the pregnancy was planned and desired. Miscarriage can also cause feelings of shame, insecurity and even isolation, as it may be difficult to talk about. All these emotions can be difficult to process, but it is important to remember that they are very normal and valid reactions to such a traumatic experience.

Having a miscarriage can lead to a variety of different emotions. It is important to recognise that there is no right or wrong way to feel. Different people react differently to having a miscarriage. Some people feel the loss very strongly, while others do not. Some will feel relieved, but may feel guilty about those feelings. 

Feelings of grief are very common. Grief can be both a physical and emotional experience. 

Other common emotions include sadness, numbness, anger, denial and disappointment.

Many women wonder if something they did caused the miscarriage. It is important to realise that there is usually nothing that could have been done to prevent the miscarriage and that the cause may never be known. 

Your feelings about your miscarriage may change over time. Important dates such as the expected due date or the anniversary of the miscarriage can be upsetting.

It is important to make sure that those who have experienced a miscarriage have access to emotional support, both from family and friends as well as from professionals.It is essential to find the right support system, as everyone’s experience with miscarriage and grief is different. Some people may need to talk to a trained professional or join a support group, while others may find comfort in talking to a close friend or family member.

Male hands comforting each other with red friendship bracelet

Fathers & Miscarriage

A miscarriage can be a time of great sadness for the father/partner as well as the mother. It’s important to acknowledge your loss and to take time to look after yourself, as well as your partner. It is normal to experience a range of emotions, such as sadness, helplessness and anger. These feeling may change over time. 

Many fathers/partners are unsure how to deal with the loss of their baby.

You may feel that you need to be strong for your partner or that you should not feel as upset as your partner, but this can mean that you neglect your own grief.

It is important to acknowledge your feelings and to take the time to deal with your grief in addition to supporting you partner.

Coping Mechanisms and Self-Care for After a Miscarriage

Developing coping mechanisms and engaging in self-care are essential during the recovery process after a miscarriage. It is important to understand that everyone has their own unique way of coping, so it is essential to find what works for you. Some ways to help cope with the emotions of a miscarriage can include talking to a professional, journaling, yoga and meditation, and engaging in hobbies and activities. It is also important to take time to rest and take care of yourself. Activities such as reading, listening to music, and spending time in nature can help in the healing process.

Exploring Grief and Loss After a Miscarriage

Exploring grief and loss after a miscarriage is an important part of the healing process. It is normal to feel a range of emotions from sadness to anger to guilt, and it is important to understand and accept these feelings, no matter how difficult they may be. It is also common to feel a deep sense of loss and grief, as a miscarriage can be similar to losing a loved one. It is important to find the right outlets for your grief.

Talking to a friend or family member, a professional, or a support group can be beneficial in understanding and effectively expressing the emotions that come with a miscarriage. It is also important to remember that grief is not linear, and it is okay to take time to process the loss.

Why Would A Miscarriage Happen?

It can occur naturally due to a genetic abnormality, or it can be caused by a medical condition or lifestyle factor. It is important to note that most miscarriages are not caused by anything the pregnant person did or did not do.

If a miscarriage happens during the first trimester of pregnancy (the first 3 months), it’s usually caused by problems with the unborn baby (foetus). About 3 in every 4 miscarriages happen during this period.

If a miscarriage happens after the first trimester of pregnancy, it may be the result of things like an underlying health condition in the mother.

These late miscarriages may also be caused by an infection around the baby, which leads to the bag of waters breaking before any pain or bleeding. Sometimes they can be caused by the neck of the womb opening too soon.

Seeking Professional Help After a Miscarriage

It is important to seek professional help after a miscarriage, as it can provide essential support in the healing process. This can include seeing a GP, a midwife, or a counsellor. It is important to find the person and type of support that is right for you, as everyone’s experience is different.A GP or midwife can provide physical medical care and advice, as well as answer any questions you may have. A counsellor or psychologist can help to explore the psychological and emotional impacts, as well as provide the necessary tools to help you process and move forward with your grief.

The Miscarriage Association 01924 200 799

Cruise Bereavement Care 0808 808 1677

Moving Forward After a Miscarriage

Moving forward after a miscarriage can be difficult, but there are ways to help make the process easier. It is important to be gentle and kind to yourself, and to listen to your body and feelings.

It is also essential to remember that there is no specific timeline to grief and healing, and that everyone’s experience is unique.It is important to find the right coping mechanisms and create a safe space for yourself. This can include talking to a friend or family member, journaling, or engaging in a hobby. It is also important to seek professional help if needed, as it can provide the necessary support and guidance during the healing process.

It is essential to remember that miscarriage can be a traumatic experience and it is important to give yourself time and space to heal. By understanding what really happens during and after a miscarriage, we can better equip ourselves with the resources and support needed to move forward with understanding and compassion.

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