After completing this unit you will:
Sometimes just having someone listen to how you feel, the guilt and the heartbreak, helps to ease it.
Women can react in different ways to the diagnosis of miscarriage. Here you can explore the various reactions that women may have to a miscarriage.
Here are 12 words that describe the reactions that people may have to a miscarriage. First, click on the six words that are, in your experience, the most common reactions.
Particularly common with a missed or silent miscarriage, diagnosed at a routine scan. This is a completely unexpected result, and there was no indication that anything was wrong. Also common after diagnosis of an ectopic or molar pregnancy.
She has had no pain or bleeding and feels all the normal pregnancy symptoms – she thinks you must be wrong. This may be a reaction with a missed or silent miscarriage.
She knows she was pregnant, so if there’s just an empty sac, where has the baby gone? If the pregnancy is much smaller than expected or if it is a pregnancy of unknown location, how does this make sense?
She was expecting a baby and now it’s gone, along with all the hopes, dreams and plans she had for it.
This is a devastating blow and a life-changing event. Perhaps this was a pregnancy after fertility treatment or the last chance to have a baby.
She assumes it must be her fault – age, a couple of drinks, exercise, picking up her other child, or not really wanting this pregnancy.
If she had been seen earlier, this would not have happened. Or, she is sure you are wrong and wants to talk with someone more senior. You may try to assure her that you are right.
Unable or unwilling to communicate. She does not want to discuss or hear anything. It is important to recognise that this is not the right time to discuss things further and it is better to let her go home with written information and contact numbers for when she is ready.
These things happen and it’s a disappointing set-back, but not a disaster. Or, maybe she’s not someone who expresses her feelings in public – for personal or cultural reasons.
About the physical process to come; about other people’s reactions; about it happening again; about future fertility.
She needs to understand why it happened in order to make sense of it and cope with the news.
This wasn’t a planned or wanted pregnancy – perhaps she’d considered having a termination – so it’s made things easier. Or, she’d rather miscarry now than have a baby with an abnormality. Perhaps it’s a relief to have a final diagnosis after weeks of uncertainty.
Think about the reactions that you have explored just now.
Miscarriage can be a devastating experience. For some women it is a great sadness; others are upset at the time but can recover quickly. Miscarriage is not like grieving for someone you knew. Instead women might mourn the loss of their baby’s future and their own future as that baby’s parent.
In this film clip you can listen to the experiences of two women, Catherine and Emily, who have experienced miscarriage in different ways. They each explain the impact of the experience has had on them.
You may have thought of the following ways to help support the woman.
I cannot fault the care I received last week. At no point was I unsure of what was going on and nor was I given false hope (which would have done more emotional harm).
The nurses were incredibly sympathetic and caring with their words, their tone and their time.
Health professionals who care for women in different settings and at different stages of miscarriage may have different experiences of women’s feelings.
Click on the folders below to see what a miscarriage might mean to the woman at different stages of her journey.