Finding Emotional Support After Pregnancy Loss
An ob-gyn discusses coping with grief, depression, and anxiety after a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Whether it’s miscarriage or stillbirth, pregnancy loss can be traumatic. This is true no matter how far along you are in your pregnancy when it happens.
After a loss, it’s common to feel depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. Some people feel anger or jealousy toward people with healthy pregnancies. Others may be surprised by feelings of relief, especially if a problem with the pregnancy had been diagnosed before the loss.
All of these reactions are normal. As an ob-gyn and psychiatrist, I help women through these difficult feelings. Here are the questions I often answer.
Was this pregnancy loss my fault?
Many people believe that the loss is the result of something they did. This is a common misconception. In almost every case, the pregnancy loss is not your fault.
Should I see a therapist after a miscarriage or stillbirth?
Seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist can be very helpful. Therapists can help you process the emotions you experience. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication, which is often helpful.
Be sure to seek help if you have any of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks:
Excessive or irrational worry
Trouble sleeping, concentrating, or taking care of yourself
Trembling, muscle tension, sweating, or nausea
Loss of interest in normal activities
Feeling hopeless, worthless, or numb
Flashbacks or nightmares
Thoughts of hurting yourself
Should I tell other people about the loss?
Some people feel comfortable talking about the loss with friends and family, while others don’t. You can decide how much to share. For many people, talking with loved ones or others who understand your experience is helpful. Joining a support group can be a good idea.
My partner doesn’t seem as upset as I am. Is this normal?
This is normal. The loss may feel different for your partner. Your partner did not carry the pregnancy like you did. Some partners may experience the loss greatly, and others may not.
It can be helpful to visit a support group for couples who have gone through this. Support groups can help you understand that you are not alone in your grief. You can also consider couples therapy, where you and your partner talk with a therapist together.
Should I have a ceremony to formally grieve this loss?
How you grieve a loss is personal. There’s no right answer. Some people want a ceremony, and others don’t. You may need time to grieve the loss in your own way. Do what you think will be most helpful for you.
A lot of people feel they don’t have the right to mourn their loss, especially after a loss early in pregnancy. That can make miscarriage even harder to process. Grieving is a normal and important experience to go through.
Can I get pregnant again?
Yes, most women can get pregnant again after experiencing miscarriage or stillbirth.
Will getting pregnant again erase the pain of loss?
Getting pregnant again may not make you feel better. It’s important to make sure you’re emotionally ready for another pregnancy, and that you have help coping with painful emotions.
How can you come to feel ready? I can share one example, a patient of mine who got pregnant after two miscarriages. She was very anxious during that third pregnancy. So she saw a therapist and took antidepressant medication to cope with her stress and anxiety. She gave birth to a healthy baby, and she and the baby are both doing well.
How can I find help?
You can ask your ob-gyn to help you find a psychiatrist and therapist, as well as other support resources. You may find help from childbirth educators, support groups, social workers, or religious leaders. There also are many organizations that offer help after a pregnancy loss, including Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support.
Remember: All of your feelings are valid after a pregnancy loss. Emotional support is available to help you through this challenging time.
Published: April 2023
Last reviewed: April 2023
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This information is designed as an educational aid for the public. It offers current information and opinions related to women's health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care. It does not explain all of the proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for the advice of a physician. Read ACOG’s complete disclaimer.