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Pregnancy loss is a common occurrence. According to research, 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is defined as a loss that occurs before 20 weeks of gestation, while research shows another 2% end in stillbirth, which is defined as a pregnancy loss that occurs after 20 weeks. While common, these losses can be deeply impactful and traumatic, but there are ways you can support yourself in your grief:

1.    Allow Yourself to Grieve. Allow yourselves to experience a range of emotions, which may include numbness, sadness, shock, anger, confusion, guilt, jealousy, even relief, especially if there was a known complication or problem with the pregnancy, without judgment. Know that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and no timeline. You may find yourself grieving not just the pregnancy itself, but also the future you envisioned upon receiving a positive pregnancy test.


2.    Don’t Blame Yourself. Many women blame themselves for pregnancy loss, particularly in the absence of any answers or explanation as to why it may have occurred. It can help to know that, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist, about half of miscarriages can be attributed to factors beyond your control. In some ways, miscarriage can be viewed as “nature’s way” of ending a nonviable pregnancy, not, as the term implies, that a woman has “miscarried.” Nonetheless, women can blame themselves, feel that they are deficient or broken in some way, or even feel betrayed by their bodies. Know that pregnancy loss does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with you; although it may make sense to see a reproductive endocrinologist for testing in the event of repeated miscarriages.


3.    Don’t Give Up Hope. While not everyone gets their rainbow baby, know that, according to the American Pregnancy Association, miscarriage is usually a one time occurrence and most people, around 85% who experience pregnancy loss go on to have healthy pregnancies. Even of those that have experienced repeated miscarriages, 75% go on to have healthy pregnancies.


4.    Don’t Expect Getting Pregnant Again to Erase the Loss. In fact, research shows that women who have experienced pregnancy loss are at risk for increased emotional distress, including depression and anxiety, in subsequent pregnancies. While the desire to become pregnant again may be very strong, try to give yourself time to heal, both physically and mentally/emotionally, from the loss before doing so.


5.    Seek Support. In the event that others did not know about the pregnancy, consider sharing, if you are comfortable, as a way of gaining emotional support as you grieve the loss. If you are not comfortable sharing with family and friends, consider attending a support group, such as those offered by Postpartum Support International (PSI) and/or finding a therapist in your area through their online directory, both of which you can at the PSI website.


6.    Consider Commemorating the Loss. In addition to support, commemorating the loss can help with the grieving process. You might consider lighting a candle on October 15, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, building a keepsake box with the positive pregnancy test, ultrasound photos, etc., wearing jewelry in remembrance of your baby, planting flowers or a tree, making a donation, and/or having a memorial service.


PSI has a helpline available at 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD).


The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-833-852-6262.


If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide the Lifeline can be reached 24/7 via text or phone at 988. In the event of a mental health emergency call 911 or go to the nearest ER. Please note that this information is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for psychological or medical care.


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