Feelings after pregnancy loss
There are several places on our website where you can read how some women and their partners have felt after losing a baby.
Reading how other people have felt may help you feel less alone. You will almost certainly find that some people have had similar feelings to yours, and that can be reassuring.
But the experience of miscarriage is different for everyone. What the loss of your baby means to you, and how you feel about it, will be shaped by all kinds of things to do with the person you are and your particular circumstances. So, although you will probably find you share a lot with others, it’s important to remember that no one else’s experience of miscarriage will be exactly like yours.
Here is what some people have said:
“I’ve never cried so much in my whole life. I was walking about with an empty feeling where I should have been holding my baby.”
“I keep on thinking it’s a punishment. I must have done something wrong.”
“I’ve got such a mad mixture of emotions – grief, guilt, anger, fear but also relief that my wife isn’t in pain any more.”
“I went to the hospital and a had a check over and was sent home with nothing more than an empty feeling. I wasn’t told that I would keep bleeding or feel so crappy, I wasn’t told how difficult it would be to deal with and process.”
“After the operation [for an ectopic pregnancy] I was in complete shock. I had just found out I was pregnant and then it was suddenly all over. Not only had I lost the baby but I also felt physically damaged. Afterwards I focused on recovering physically, but emotionally I was completely numb.”
“I wasn’t sure if I was pregnant, so when it happened it was a shock and a relief at that time. After a few days I just carried on as normal.”
“My mother was relieved, I also didn’t tell her until a few weeks after the miscarriage and she was positive, said it was for the best. I know why she felt that way but it still hurt. Those around me made me feel like I had no right to be upset about this. I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean to, but I was absolutely devastated and I don’t think anyone understood why.”
A miscarriage is not a major event for everyone, but it is for many women – and men too. Most people are left with feelings of great sadness and regret. You might feel shocked and confused. You may feel angry – at fate, at your partner, at other women who seem to have no problems getting and staying pregnant.
You might feel guilty and wonder whether you have been responsible for your loss in some way (that’s very unlikely – see our leaflet Why me?). You may just feel empty and perhaps lonely. Some women lose confidence, feel stressed, panicky and out of control.
If you didn’t plan the pregnancy or if you didn’t want to be pregnant, you may find it hard to understand your emotions. You might feel completely different to the way you thought you would. You might feel a mixture of loss, relief and guilt.
Many women – and partners too – find it difficult to be around anyone else who is pregnant or has a new baby. It’s certainly very common to feel jealous and to feel that this is all very unfair.
For some people, their feelings are intense but not overwhelming. Others are devastated by what they feel and for a time feel barely able to cope. Everyday tasks, whether at home or at work, can seem impossible to manage or not worth doing. The world can feel turned upside down.
It is also common to feel loss in physical ways. A lot of women find they feel very tired, even some time after the miscarriage. You may also have headaches or stomach-aches, be constipated, have diarrhoea, or find it hard to sleep. These symptoms will probably disappear in time, but if you feel worried about them, it might be a good idea to talk to your GP.
Partners too can have strong feelings of loss, distress and anxiety, yet their needs can go unrecognised. They may find it helpful to read our leaflet Partners Too (or an earlier version Men and Miscarriage) and/or the web-based article “Coping with miscarriage”.
If you haven’t been able to tell your family, friends or partner about your miscarriage – or if you don’t have a partner – then you may feel very lonely and isolated. You might find it helpful to look at our information on talking about miscarriage.
Miscarriage is a particular kind of loss and can bring particular feelings.
After a miscarriage, you grieve for a person you never knew, and for a relationship that ended before it really began. You grieve not for a person who has lived and died but for the hopes and plans and dreams that you had for your baby and your family. You grieve for the loss of your future as the parent of this baby. You are sad not just because of what you have lost but because of what will never be.
This is different to grieving for, say, an elderly person who has died, and it can be hard for people who have no experience of miscarriage to understand.
Another way in which grief after the loss of a baby is different to other kinds of grief is that you might be thinking about the possibility of another pregnancy in the future. So your feelings about what has happened may be mixed with anxieties about why it happened, whether and when you might conceive again, and if you do conceive, whether you might lose the next baby too.
Sometimes the words ‘loss’ and ‘losing’ don’t feel right. You might think that ‘losing a baby’ sounds like something to be blamed for, as if you were careless. That’s certainly not what we mean it when we use these words. Even so, you might take comfort by reading Catherine’s thoughts on this.