Healing after a miscarriage

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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.

Guest Author

Guest Author

Guest Author
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  • Holly says:

    Donielle,

    I’ve just recently been visiting your site, and it’s refreshing to hear [read blogs] of people who have a sincere love for God and realize what an AWESOME and loving God we serve.

    One of my favorite verses (I have many) is:
    Isaiah 30:18 “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”

    Another one I just read yesterday that I’m trying to memorize is equally awesome:
    Psalm 30:5b “…but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

    Although the context of both of these verses may not apply specifically to miscarriage, I love the context for my own life.

    I don’t know the pain of miscarriage [yet], but I do know pain and I do know the rejoicing that comes from knowing the Lord hears my prayers and LONGS to be gracious to me…and what a wonderful thing to actually SEE the Lord’s kindness as He tenderly blesses me [you] in ways that are meaningful to me [you] because He knows what will speak to me.

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you so much for this series we suffered a devastating miscarriage last year in April after almost 3 years of fertility treatments trying for a sibling for Son. I vowed after that I would never return and would try again that I would be able to handle that sort of pain again. We have recently been baptized and became members of a wonderful church through this change and transition in our life the holy spirit has begun to talk to me about trying again and putting my faith in God to protect us and guide us through this to the ultimate gift another child in our lives to raise in the church and share our joy. Your post today has helped me immensely and to feel comfortable with returning to the fertility clinic, this time we will be doing a natural cycle and not using any meds just the power faith and pray. May God bless for the blessing this has given me and the peace it has brought me.

  • Jodi says:

    I can’t remember how I found it, but the book “Safe in the Arms of God” by John MacArthur has helped tremendously with my emotional and spiritual healing. I knew my baby was in heaven, but I didn’t know of any direct verses where I could back that up. I also felt in some guilt, as if maybe it could be my fault, and also dealt with some anger towards God. The book really helped to show me God’s loving heart toward my little one and gave me tremendous peace knowing that she’s rejoicing with Jesus in heaven and doesn’t have to experience the pain of this world! I still miss her, and think about her often, but not with the extreme pain and emptiness that I once did.

  • Erica says:

    When I saw that you were doing this series, and I was newly pregnant with our 7th baby, I took note, but had hopes that I would not need the information. However, God had another plan, and at 13-1/2 weeks, just this past March 16, 2011, our precious little one went straight from my womb to Jesus’ waiting arms. Just minutes before, we saw our baby with a strong heartbeat via ultrasound. This is our first loss.

    While this is all very fresh for me, I can say that having prayer support right from the very beginning of the troubles in the pregnancy, has surely made a difference. That very first day is the worst. Sleep was impossible for the first 24 hours for me. Finally, and mercifully, God gave me very needed rest (Psalm 127:2b). Prior to this, I could not shake the many traumatic images in my mind. Tears came nearly constantly, and my emotional state was frazzled.

    The second day brought me to God’s word for help. Oh, how rich His word is to us! Also, it is vital to speak God’s truth into my mind. I’ve found myself saying, “I just want our baby back,” while sobbing. Yet, in reality, none of our precious children are ours, but the Lord’s. And, this baby of ours is now in a better place (2 Corinthians 5:6-9) …with Jesus, the good shepherd (John 10:27-29). These are not trite cliches, and my saying them has come at a cost that is great. I try to change even my thinking by saying to myself, “I miss my baby.” That is a true statement, and much more helpful than the other.

    God is with us in our hurt and pain and agony over losing precious babies (1 Peter 4:19, Psalm 31:7). My earthly-minded vision sees not as the Lord does (Colossians 3:2). Trying, by faith, to trust God’s promises, is important for healing of all sorts. For me, the emotional and spiritual pieces are completely interwoven. The stronger I can lean on the Lord, the stronger His Word and Spirit make me emotionally.

    • donielle says:

      @Erica, Oh Erica, my heart breaks for you and your family over the passing of your little one. May God continue to surround you in comfort and peace. Know that you will be in my prayers.

  • Lisa says:

    We recently suffered a miscarriage, our first baby. As Orthodox Christians we each receive a patronal saint. We chose Benjamin (of the Old Testament) for our baby (though we did not know the gender yet). My husband blogged this post: http://iconblographer.blogspot.com/2011/03/memory-eternal.html

    My husband is an iconographer and painted an icon for our baby. We will always have this icon, this saint and our baby as part of our family. We are closing in on 40 days since the miscarriage, a memorial day.

    Why oh why don’t more people talk about this pain? I hurt so much and it is a fit, rainy spring to match my mood. I want to be happy again someday, but when I think about that I feel guilty.

    Lord have mercy on me, a sinner. I hope this Lent will be a time for healing.

    In Christ,
    Lisa

  • Lisa says:

    My priest sent me this:

    excerpt from Life After Death by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos:

    “How will the infant be judged or where he will be sent, since he did neither evil nor good in his life? St. Gregory says that the problem is not to be put in this way since it is not a matter of justice, but of a natural state of the health or illness of human nature. […]

    This teaching of St. Gregory of Nyssa gives us the opportunity of underlining here that the soul of a man is not impure at birth, but pure. Man from his birth experiences illumination of the nous. Therefore we see that even infants can have noetic prayer, corresponding of course to the images and representations of their age. When a person is created his nous is in a state of illumination. We have observed many times that there are infants who pray, even in their sleep. A monk of the Holy Mountain says that when small children turn their attention in some direction and laugh without a reason, it means that they see their angel. What happens in the lives of saints, for whom it is altogether natural to be with the angels, happens in little children.

    Therefore orthodox theology does not teach what theology in the West says, that man inherits the guilt of the ancestral sin. For we believe that at birth a person has a pure nous: his nous is illuminated which is the natural state. The inheritance of the ancestral sin, as we said in another place, lies in the fact that the body inherits corruptibility and mortality, which, with the passage of time, and as the child grows and passions develop, darkens the noetic part of his soul. Indeed the developed passions linked with corruptibility and mortality and darkness of the environment darken the noetic part of the souls of children.

    There is the problem of what happens at holy Baptism. That is to say, since infants have a pure nous which is in a state of illumination, and they have noetic prayer, then why do we baptise them?

    The answer, as we see in the whole patristic tradition, is that by holy Baptism we are not getting rid of guilt from ancestral sin, but we are being grafted on to the Body of Christ, the Church, and are acquiring the power to conquer death. This is how we understand the baptism of babies. We baptise them so they may become members of the Church, members of the Body of Christ, that they may pass over death, overcome the garments of skin, decay and mortality. That is to say that as they grow, whenever the nous becomes darkened by passions and the darkness of the surroundings, they may have the ability to conquer death in Christ, to overcome the passions and to purify the noetic part of their souls once more.

    […]

    The deepest purpose of Baptism for both infants and adults is to attain deification, which is achieved only in Christ and in the Church.

    Since this point is quite crucial, I may be permitted to quote the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa about the purity of the souls of infants: “Whereas the innocent babe has no such plague before its soul’s eyes obscuring its measure of light, it continues to exist in that natural life; it does not need the soundness that comes from purgation, because it never admitted the plague into its soul at all”. The infant nous is pure, it has not been ill, it is distinguished by health and the natural state and therefore is not prevented at all from partaking of the divine Light.

    […]

    However, the soul which has not tasted virtue but is also not sickened with evil can also share the good to the depth to which it can contain the eternal blessings, empowered by the vision of Him Who is.

    Thus infants, although inexperienced in evil, will share in divine knowledge, divine light, empowered by the vision of God, by divine grace; and naturally with the vision of God they will advance to more perfect knowledge. Actually God manifests Himself to all, “giving himself as much as the person in question accepts”. (pp. 99-103) ‘Life after death’ by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos

  • Helen says:

    I don’t believe in God, but your words give me comfort.

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