More than one in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage - around 14,000 women in Ireland each year have a miscarriage. The fact that you have had a miscarriage does not necessarily mean that there is anything medically wrong with you or your partner and does not mean you cannot have children in the future. The majority of women who have a miscarriage carry on in the future to have successful, healthy pregnancies and babies.
Sometimes miscarriage can happen very early in the pregnancy, before you may even realise you are pregnant. In this situation, a menstrual period is later and heavier than usual and sometimes the woman may not even suspect she has had a miscarriage.
Many women may start to bleed and have pain. This bleeding can vary from being dark brown to being bright red and the pains can be cramping in the lower abdomen or in the back. Sometimes women experience pains in the tops of the shoulders.
Some women experience very little or no pain at all. Symptoms vary from person to person and some people who have experienced more then one miscarriage tell of having different symptoms each time. Sometimes there can be bleeding in early pregnancy and sometimes some women have spotting throughout their pregnancy and their pregnancy still proceeds without any further problems. Any amount of bleeding or pain should be checked out by your doctor or hospital.
Each individual reacts differently to pregnancy loss and copes differently with grief. There is no right or wrong way to do it. We cope with it the best we can, in our own way, at our own pace. Most women and their partners find the experience deeply distressing but women and men can sometimes have differing reactions. Sometimes the woman might feel that her partner doesn't feel the same way or 'doesn't care' or she may think he is behaving coldly towards her if he doesn't appear to be as upset as she is. This is most likely not the case and its just different personalities and upbringings trying to cope in a distressing situation. The man must realise that it is not a weakness for him to feel sad or show emotions and that grieving is a necessary part of a process, by which we adjust again to any kind of normal routine after a personal tragedy.
The emotional aspect of the miscarriage is probably the most difficult and you need to allow yourself all the time that is right for you. There is no time-limit to grieving and none of us can say 'by x date I will feel better and be back to normal'. Many of us find we go through a whole series of emotions. Some people, who have no experience of miscarriage or loss, think that you can only grieve for a baby who has been born alive and one that you have got to know, if only for a short while. But parents begin their relationship with their baby long before the birth and therefore it is quite natural for them to experience grief for babies who die before they are born.
For too many women and their partners, their distress is made worse by a lack of understanding amongst those around them. Many of us find that people around us, at home, at work or in our circle of friends, who have no experience of miscarriage do not understand the depth of feeling we have for a baby that was barely formed. This can make it all the more distressing for the woman and her partner who have lost their baby. Sometimes it would be helpful if we could help people to understand. Perhaps showing them our fact sheet on Helping a Friend Overcome a Miscarriage might be a starting point.
It is neither helpful nor appropriate to compare or judge the intensity of feelings involved in having a miscarriage or in the grieving process. Everyone is different, and one parent's grief may be as painful as another's, regardless of how many weeks their pregnancy lasted.
Many women who have experienced loss in pregnancy are not well informed about what is happening, this can make the whole situation frightening and more distressing. Whereas most of us are well cared for physically by our doctors, at the hospital or at home many people emotional needs aren't taken into consideration and most of us receive no follow-up aftercare.
The more information we have at these times and the better the emotional support we get helps people cope a lot better with their loss. There are different possible Causes and Types of Miscarriage.
To download our Information Booklet, please click on the link.