Pregnancy After Miscarriage
What to Expect
If your last pregnancy ended in a loss, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed with anxiety at every single milestone you reach during your current pregnancy. The fact that miscarriages are a common occurrence isn't likely to lessen the impact of what happened before. Nor will having other healthy children at home -- though people might assume that this can help diminish your grief.
If you've experienced an early miscarriage (the most common type), during your next pregnancy you might be worried until you've reached the point at which things went wrong the last time. Or if you lost a baby later in pregnancy or endured multiple miscarriages, you might never feel completely relaxed during this pregnancy.
It's only natural to rein in your excitement about having another baby after you've suffered a loss. You might do this in order to protect yourself, hoping to lessen your grief if you miscarry again. Your normal urge to assert a degree of control over a risky situation frequently fuels another common desire: to do things very differently during this pregnancy. Some typical behaviors include:
- Playing it extra safe: Experiencing profound loss teaches an unwelcome lesson -- life sometimes defeats our most cherished plans. It's natural for you to be concerned throughout your next pregnancy. But talk with your doctor and get the reassurance you need to achieve some peace of mind so you can actually enjoy the pregnancy, without being paralyzed by fear that everything you do could be a threat to the baby.
- Seeking a new medical strategy: If your previous pregnancy experience was very medically oriented, you may seek less intervention with the next pregnancy. Alternately, you might seek more medical intervention.
- Maintaining emotional distance from the baby: If you've miscarried, you might be surprised by how relatively detached you feel from your baby during your next pregnancy. You might not reveal your pregnancy for a long time, or you may try not to personalize the baby for a time. If you've suffered a loss, it's common to want to hold back the next time by choosing to know as little as possible about the baby before the birth.
What to Do
If you've miscarried before, you'll need extra support from family, friends, and health-care providers this time. Your husband might need additional attention too, if he's been experiencing powerful and troubling feelings. Sometimes it's more difficult for men to know where to turn for help and how to ask for it. Here are some good sources of support:
- Your partner: It's especially important for you and your partner to talk to each other about what you're feeling. Honest communication helps you appreciate each other's viewpoint and encourages you to pull together rather than apart. Who better to turn to than each other for the compassion you need?
- Doctors, nurses, midwives: Whether or not you seek a more medical approach to this pregnancy, you certainly should expect extra attention from your health-care provider. For instance, your provider can indulge you by seeing you more often, if you wish. Sometimes, all you require is a little reassurance that everything is progressing smoothly.
- Private childbirth classes: You might feel out of sync in a conventional group class. If you do enroll in a group class, be sure to let your instructor know about your personal situation. She may be able to connect you with other couples in the group who've also had a similar experience. Since about one in every five pregnancies ends in miscarriage, you will probably not be alone.
- Internet support groups: Thanks to the Internet, you have access to round-the-clock miscarriage support forums such as chats, message boards, and e-mail loops. Visit the americanbaby.com community for a warm, friendly environment where you can find moms who share similar experiences and concerns.
You may wonder whether you ever could -- or should -- love your newborn the way you love the baby or babies you lost. You may feel conflicted, but allow yourself to feel love for the new child. Loving the new baby does not replace the love for the child who was lost. There will always be a special love in your heart for the baby that could have been.