It is estimated that one in every four pregnancies ends in a miscarriage but though miscarriages are common they can still be highly traumatic for the couples who must cope with them. The aftermath of a miscarriage is often emotional, and it can take time for the individuals affected by miscarriage to work through their grief. Men in particular may feel confused about the miscarriage and how to proceed. Today there are many options for finding support and coping with miscarriage.
Hundreds of thousands of women (and couples) are affected by miscarriage each year in the United Kingdom. Miscarriage occurs when a foetus is spontaneously expelled from the body before the 24th week of pregnancy. Most miscarriages occur before the 12th week of pregnancy, and often there is little that could have been done to prevent this expulsion. Though there is usually no single, identifiable cause that can be pinpointed for a miscarriage, some common causes include genetic defects in the sperm, egg or resulting foetus, serious infection in the mother, and smoking, drinking or the taking of drugs by the mother. Though mothers of older ages seem to suffer miscarriages more frequently, the age of the mother is not a proven cause of miscarriage. Most women who suffer a miscarriage go on to have successful pregnancies later.
Grief After a Miscarriage
The grief felt after a miscarriage is similar to the grief felt after the loss of any loved one. Very often this grief is described as a cycle involving distinct phases such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. However, not everyone experiences, and process, this grief in the same way or at the same time. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, so everyone affected by a miscarriage should be allowed to work through their emotions in whatever way suits them best. Many women, and couples, wonder if there should be a time limit on their grief since the pregnancy only occurred for a discrete period of time. Again, it can only be said that each individual will grieve on her or his own and should not be expected to conform to external standards. If grief begins to affect the individual s working, educational or personal life, however, professional help should be sought.
Men and Miscarriage
Very often the men whose partners miscarry are particularly uncertain of how to proceed. Men may feel all of the same emotions in their grief over the lost pregnancy, but they may also have concerns for their partners health and well-being as well. Some men may be reluctant to share their feelings, or even discuss the miscarriage, out of fear that it may upset their partner. Unfortunately, remaining silent may well upset the relationship. Making time for intimate discussions should be high on the list of any couple following a miscarriage, so that both partners gain an understanding of how each is coping and what they can do to support each other.
Further Information and Support
Medical professionals, including local GPs, will be able to offer further information and support about miscarriages. The Miscarriage Association (www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk), is also a source of information and support for individuals and couples affected by miscarriage. Local volunteers are available for support close to home, and the Miscarriage Association helpline may prove invaluable to those affected by a miscarriage.