Healing after a miscarriage
During a miscarriage
If you are experiencing that sinking feeling in your soul right now, when you realize a miscarriage has begun, I want to send you my deepest condolences. A woman’s body has many specific needs after birthing, and miscarriage is no different.
Don’t chuck that pregnancy book out the window yet
Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, your miscarriage experience may be very much like labor. Review the chapters on relaxation techniques, comfort measure solutions, etc., just in case you need them to get through waves of contractions over the next few days. (Yes, days.)
Check with your doctor/midwife
Make sure they know about your miscarriage signs and keep you and your husband advised of any emergency signs that require a trip to the hospital (such as a fever or other signs of infection, sharp pains, excessive blood loss, loss of consciousness, etc).
As long as everything is progressing normally, you can have a natural miscarriage in the peaceful privacy of your home. (Your healthcare provider may offer to visit you and/or provide support over the phone.) Make sure to have your husband or a support person with you just in case. Schedule a follow-up appointment.
Stock up on lots of pads – quickly
Even if you don’t usually use pads during a period, you’ll need them during a miscarriage, as you pass the baby/tissue, and lots of blood loss. Keep enough on hand to last you a couple weeks.
Relax & Release
An important part of giving birth naturally is the “letting go” experience, and the same is true for miscarriage, as emotionally difficult as this is. As you relax and release, you allow your cervix to fully open up, and for the contractions to become effective. A warm shower, heat packs, or sitting on the toilet can help, along with a restful atmosphere of quiet music, candles, etc; just like in labor.
Healing physically after a miscarriage
Physical healing always seems to happen faster than the emotional healing. In your grief, you may not have much of an appetite, but it is important to nourish your body during this recovery time.
As you rebuild after the blood loss, the nutrient demands of a pregnancy, and now the needs of healing, make sure to prepare whole-foods meals full of iron, healing vitamins such as K & C, good fats, etc.
A midwife/herbalist may recommend an herbal tincture for you, such as crampbark or false unicorn. Check with your natural healthcare provider for the appropriate dosage for your needs. You may also find drinking wild red raspberry leaf tea helpful, especially as you heal enough to begin preparing for another pregnancy.
Rest after a miscarriage
Even if you feel capable of continuing your daily duties, you need time to fully heal. You don’t want to cause unnecessary damage/blood loss from “over-doing it” as your uterus recovers. A couple of weeks of rest will also allow you the space to begin grieving and emotionally walking through this season in a healthy way; especially as you may experience both a combination of grief and “postpartum blues” of hormonal fluctuations.
Healing emotionally after a miscarriage
A flood of emotions may pour over you in your journey through miscarriage. Grief is always a fluctuating, organic experience. It’s not a time of predictable “stages.” You won’t always know what is coming next, and waves of grief may catch you by surprise.
In addition, husbands and wives will grieve differently, often being in different “stages” in any one day. (My husband wrote about our infertility/miscarriage experience here from his point of view.)
Take time as husband and wife to rest and grieve together, sharing your hearts’ dreams and disappointments. In the midst of raw grief and hormonal fluctuations, conversations can be challenging at first, but try to keep communication open and full of grace during this season.
Choosing a name for the baby, scrapbooking/journaling, and/or planning a small memorial service can be healing steps. Even just lighting a candle can be a soothing reminder.
Visiting favorite restful getaways or mini-retreats can be helpful to the healing journey, whether alone or together. A quiet time of prayer on a forest hike, a weekend of watching stormy waves on the beach, a walk through local rose gardens, or a stay at a bed & breakfast or campsite may help revive your spirit and give you time to walk through your grief.
Telling others about your loss can be an especially challenging part of the journey. Writing a letter to extended family and friends, in a card expressing your heart, can be a simple way of sharing about your loss without having to voice the same sad words repeatedly.
Phone calls to close family and friends are an opportunity to let them know how they can help support you in the coming weeks (meals, house cleaning, childcare, as well as telling others for you).
As people hear about your loss, they may express often well-meaning, but insensitive or painful thoughts. In the rawness of your grief, these words may especially catch you by surprise.
It may be helpful to prayerfully prepare in advance (before going out into public) some affirming words that you can speak in response, which honor the miracle of the little soul you carried- and will always love.
Healing spiritually after a miscarriage
The ache of empty arms after a miscarriage can feel especially acute if you ignore the spiritual aspects of the healing journey. In your grief, it can be difficult to imagine celebrating, but I want to recognize you as a mama, the one who carried this precious little one and nourished him/her within in you.
I believe it is the Lord who creates life and puts families together. He chose to create this little life, and place it in the intimacy of your womb for those days.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)
As parents, we are never given a guarantee how long we will have our children. Of course, we all hope to hold them in our arms, and joyfully see them grow up in our ripe old age.
But many times, God allows us only a short time with our little ones. (I love how Angie and her family embraced this, in celebrating the short days of their precious daughter.) Many foster/adoptive parents understand this concept as well, pouring themselves with thankfulness into each given day full of an unknown future.
Whether the time is short or long between discovering this little life within and having to say goodbye, releasing can be an incredibly painful, angering process. Just as with anything (or anyone) in life, God calls us to surrender to Him; as Kim Brenneman says,
“Hold things with a light hand, because they are not yours in the first place. They belong to God.”
This doesn’t mean feeling “unattached” or flippant about the blessing you’ve been given but recognizing the omniscient sovereignty of God, who will walk through these agonizing days with you. I say this not to be insensitive, but to encourage you.
You may benefit from a short season of walking with a counselor or grief support group, as you journey on a daily basis through this releasing and walking toward healing in a healthy way, free of bitterness and anger. (Many hospitals or midwives can help direct you to local groups.)
I also found it helpful to mull over the concept that this little soul could now worship God in heaven; not as an angel, but as the child of God I am raising all my little ones to be. What a precious honor of motherhood! I look forward to the day when we can all rejoice together!
My blessings and prayers go with you today, dear one.
Michele and her husband Calvin live a simple & sustainable life as innkeepers at Hampton Creek Inn in rural Washington with their two little ones. Michele loves encouraging women and equipping them for frugal, natural living through her blog, Frugal Granola.