Your feelings and emotions after miscarriage
Your partner may share many of your emotions, or none of them. We’ve spoken to thousands of women about how they felt after a miscarriage. Some of the women who have shared their stories with us have talked about emotions such as grief, guilt, emptiness, fear and loneliness. You may find it reassuring to read about other women’s experiences.
There is support available if you’re finding it difficult to cope with your feelings. Your GP will be able to help you access the support you need.
You can also talk to a Tommy’s midwife free of charge from 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday on 0800 0147 800 or email them at [email protected]. Our midwives are also trained in bereavement support.
You may not have been able to meet or hold your baby but that doesn’t mean your grief is any less real.
Some women and couples don’t feel comfortable with this grief. They may feel it’s unjustified because they never met their baby. It doesn’t matter how far along you were, nothing should stop you from grieving for the baby you made. No matter how many people say, ‘it wasn’t really a baby yet’, you may feel in your heart that it was a baby the moment you conceived and no-one can take that away.
Many women start imaging their baby’s future from the moment they knew they were pregnant. You may need some time to mourn your baby and all the hopes and dreams you had for them.
“I am a mother of three – the unusual bit is that our three are not with us…I'd had hope and dreams for all my little ones, I'd loved them fiercely and wanted to protect them.” Sarah's story. Read more...
Miscarriage can come as a huge shock to some couples and it is natural to need time to make sense of what has happened. Some women don’t even have any symptoms and sadly only discover the loss when they attend a routine antenatal appointment for an ultrasound scan (a missed miscarriage).
Whatever your experience of miscarriage, it’s completely understandable to be in shock. This is not how anyone expects or hopes their pregnancy to end.
“One minute we were sitting happy and excited in the waiting room, ready to see our baby for the first time. The next we were being ushered to a different unit in the hospital to discuss how to have our baby removed. Shock doesn’t begin to describe it. I hadn’t had any indication there was anything wrong. I’d never even heard of a missed miscarriage. It didn’t feel real.” Marta
Failure and guilt
You may feel like you’ve failed as a mother. The idea that a baby in your care, inside you, could stop growing can be very difficult to face. You might feel terrible guilt that you are responsible in some way for your baby not being born. You might question all the things you’ve done over the last few weeks and wonder whether there was something you did that caused your baby’s brief life to end.
It is important to know that miscarriages very rarely happen because of something you did or didn’t do. The most common cause of early miscarriage (the most common type of miscarriage) is chromosomal abnormalities in the baby, and these happen by chance.
“What if there is something I can do next time to tip the odds in my baby's favour? Because right now, if someone with a medical qualification told me I had to spend my entire pregnancy hopping on one foot while only eating broccoli and wholemeal bread, I'd do it if I thought it would raise my chances of giving birth to another healthy baby.”Catherine's story. Read more...
Many women say they have changed after getting pregnant. They have a new identity as a mother. For this to be taken away for no apparent reason can leave you feeling empty. Partners may feel this loss of their new identity as a parent too.
“When you get that positive pregnancy test, you are a mother-to-be. Whether it's 5, 10, or 26 weeks, you are changed.”Louise's story. Read more...
Loss of control
One of the most overwhelming things about parenthood is that so much is out of your control. You cannot always control when you get pregnant, and it is out of your hands whether that baby will grow into a little person. All you can do is follow advice and prepare your body as best as you can. Still, this doesn’t guarantee anything and this can be very hard to accept.
Most women and couples never find out why they miscarried. It can be devastating when something like this happens and you don’t know why.
“The worst part for me is the not knowing why. Why did my babies die? How could I carry a perfectly healthy child the first time and not the second or third? Why can't they test me to find out? Why? Why? Why?” Leanne
You may find yourself overcome with fear and anxiety that you might have another miscarriage or other complications in pregnancy if you’re thinking about trying for another baby. This is a natural reaction, particularly if you don’t know why you miscarried or if this isn’t the first time it’s happened.
These anxieties may get worse when you get pregnant. It may help to talk to someone about how you feel now. Your GP will be able to help you access the support you need.
Find out more about getting support after a miscarriage.
You may find yourself feeling envious, resentful or unable to be happy for someone else when they announce their pregnancy or the birth of their baby. It can be particularly difficult if the timing coincides with important dates for you in relation to your own loss.
Try not to be hard on yourself because there are many women who feel the same way.
“But it just hits you from nowhere. I walked into a toilet last week in a restaurant, smack bang into a pregnant lady. It almost ruined my day. I see friends get pregnant and I resent them.”Read more...
Loss of trust in your body
You may feel let down by your body or that it has played tricks on you, particularly if you had a missed miscarriage and had no symptoms. You might feel a strange disconnect between you and your body. You may feel this same lack of faith in your body in future pregnancies and resent the fact that you’re unable to enjoy your pregnancy.
Don’t forget that you will be affected physically, as well as emotionally. Your hormone levels are rapidly changing after a miscarriage, and mood swings and tears are normal. It may take a bit of time before your body feels normal again. The mind can affect the body and vice versa. Try to take care of your physical and emotional health as best you can.
“‘The trouble with miscarriage is that most people don’t understand what it is you’ve actually lost. I’ve lost my babies. I’ve lost the ability to be excited about pregnancy. I’ve lost trust in my body, in hospitals and in statistics. Most of all I’ve lost faith, in myself and in the future.” Melissa's story. Read more...
If your pregnancy wasn’t planned, you might be struggling with conflicting emotions. It could be that you were unsure about pregnancy and didn’t expect to feel so strongly about the loss. You may even feel guilty about being a little relieved. On the other hand, you may find other people assume you are feeling relieved when you are anything but, which can be very upsetting.
Some women find themselves feeling alone in their grief because nobody knew they were pregnant in the first place. It can also be very difficult if other people’s reactions to your loss are unhelpful or upsetting.
Some couples may also worry that their loss has affected their relationship with their partner.
Think about whether you might want to tell your employer, a close colleague, friends or family. Being able to talk about your loss might help you to feel less lonely and better supported.
“I for one found the thought of waiting 3 months to tell our families and close friends impossible. The way they shared in our excitement and later our grief really meant something to us. I found it almost impossible to tell anyone at work, so I didn’t feel I could share my loss. I had a silent scream in my head I couldn’t let out.”Read more...
How do I cope with these emotions?
There is no easy way to grieve after something like this happens, but there are some practical things you can do that may help.
Allow yourself to feel sad
Try not to push yourself, feel guilty about feeling sad or try to force yourself to feel happy, even if a lot of time has passed since your miscarriage. Feeling sad is a healthy part of the grieving process.
Commemorate your loss
A lot of people like to find a special way to remember their baby or to do something that makes them feel like they’ve said a proper goodbye.
Find out more about remembering your baby after a miscarriage.
You and your partner have been through a traumatic experience and you may both find it helpful to find ways to express how you feel.
Some people find keeping a diary or journal helps them make sense of their feelings. Sometimes just the act of writing down your thoughts and feelings down is effective.
Try to talk to someone about how you feel. If you have a partner, it’s a good idea to try to support each other. Be aware that you may have different feelings and ways of coping. This doesn’t mean you don’t love each other.
Sometimes it can help to talk to a professional counsellor, either as a couple or on your own. Your GP can refer you to NHS counselling services or you may be able to refer yourself. You can also contact the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy to find a local private service.
Emotional stress can make you very tired, but you may also find it difficult to sleep. See your GP if you’re struggling.
You may be finding it difficult to eat, but it’s important to try and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Avoid 'numbing' the pain
Avoid things that ‘numb’ the pain, such as alcohol. It'll make you feel worse once the numbness wears off.
If you are finding it hard to cope
Sometimes grief can be overwhelming. If you are struggling to cope with your feelings, you are not alone.
It is possible to develop mental health problems because of the grief caused by losing a baby. Depression and anxiety are common, but some women may develop other issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or perinatal obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
"I struggled with anxiety and felt very low. In fact, I felt like I was losing my mind."
Toni. Read her story...
Talk to your GP if you are worried about how you or someone else is feeling. There is support available and mental health problems are treatable.
You can also talk to a Tommy’s midwife free of charge from 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday on 0800 0147 800 or you can email them at [email protected]
You can also join the Tommy's Baby Loss Support Group on Facebook for those who have experienced any type of baby loss.
More information and support
Anxiety UK is an organisation run by with anxiety disorders, offering information, support and therapies for people experiencing anxiety.
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) provides information for those who are considering some form of counselling. Call them on 01455 883316.
MIND is a mental health charity providing information, support, local groups and an online chatroom. They have specific information about postnatal depression and perinatal mental health, including postnatal PTSD and birth trauma.
No Panic provides online and telephone support for people suffering from panic attacks, phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and anxiety disorders.
The Miscarriage Support Tool
If you have miscarried before, it's understandable to feel anxious about trying again.
The Tommy's Miscarriage Support Tool can give you a percentage chance of your next pregnancy being successful and gives personalised support and information.
Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (2016) Early miscarriage https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/pi-early-miscarriage.pdf
The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (February 2017) Maternal Mental Health – Women’s Voices https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/information/maternalmental-healthwomens-voices.pdf