Recurrent miscarriage: your feelings
A single miscarriage can be very distressing. But it can be heartbreaking if the next pregnancy miscarries too … and then the next. Each new pregnancy brings both hope and anxiety. And each new loss may be harder to bear, especially if you feel that time is running out.
Everyone is different, but these are some of the feelings that people with recurrent loss describe.
Grief – sometimes increasing with each loss, sometime easing over time . It may re-surface on significant dates or just out of the blue, and it may be long-lasting too.
There’s a common misconception that having another baby somehow ‘fixes’ things and that I should now feel fine. But I am still grieving my babies and will always wonder who they were.
Seeking reasons – needing to know the cause of your losses in the hope of preventing it happening again. You might use all possible information sources: your doctor or hospital, online searches, social media, family and friends. You might find them helpful, or confusing.
Guilt and blame – especially if there are no clear reasons for your losses. You might think it must be your fault, something you or maybe your partner did or didn’t do. You might blame stress at work or at home, or the NHS for not doing more to research and prevent miscarriage.
Frustration or anger – about your care. This might be wanting treatment that’s not available or recommended. It might be about waiting – for a referral, then for investigations and then for results. It might be at the results themselves.
Being told all my tests were ‘normal’ was initially heartbreaking. I remember feeling angry with the consultant for not finding something and I couldn’t help but feel this was the worst news possible. I wanted a reason and a cure.
Loneliness – especially if others don’t understand. Nicola describe her experience of recurrent miscarriage between her two living children:
I would be met by awkward silence if I mentioned what I was going through, because people don’t know what to say. I was often on the receiving end of well-meant but hurtful platitudes like ‘at least you know you can get pregnant’, or ‘at least it wasn’t further along’. ‘At least you have your son’ was common.
Jealousy – of family, friends or colleagues whose pregnancues go well. As much as you want to be happy for them, it can be very hard not to find their good news distressing or even unfair. You might feel ‘that should be me’, especially after yet another loss.
Avoidance – trying to protect yourself from seeing or reading about other people’s pregnancies or babies, whether you’re out and about or simply seeing pregnancy and birth announcements on social media. (You may need to ‘unfollow’ people for a while.)
I still have to keep myself busy during all my waking hours, and turn away from anything related to babies. I change the channel when a pregnant women is on the TV, or look away when I see a mother and her baby in town.
Relationship problems – with your partner, family or friends. Recurrent miscarriage can place great strain on even the strongest relationships. You and your partner might react differently from each other and that can cause great tension. Family and friends may find it harder to support you with each miscarriage; they may even think you’re getting used to loss and able to cope.
Mental health problems – such as anxiety, depression, flashbacks. These might be as a result of your experience or made worse by it. It can be hard to work out what is ‘normal’ and when- and wher – to seek help.
It’s hard to know if it’s normal grief or worse due to previous struggles with depression.
Fear and uncertainty – about trying again, whether you can cope with another loss or with the anxiety of being pregnant. Or about stopping trying and facing a different future.
Determination – to keep trying and hoping.
Things that might help
It can really help to talk to others who understand what you’re going through. This may be someone you know already, or you might choose to use one or more of the following options:
The Miscarriage Association’s helpline team – offering support, understanding and a listening ear.
I just talked and cried and the lovely lady on the phone listened without judging me or getting bored. It really helped. s
Miscarriage Association support groups – face to face or via Zoom, the chance to talk with others who have been through miscarriage/s or ectopic or molar pregnancy.
I attended tonight’s zoom session. It was the best thing I have done so far in trying to come to terms with what I am going through. I am blown away by how brilliant the support group was.
Online peer support – for example the Miscarriage Association’s private Facebook groups or our online forum which has a section for recurrent miscarriage – all described here.
On causes, tests and treatment It can be difficult making sense of the information that you can find online or hear from family and friends. You might even find that different doctors say different things.
We hope you find our information helpful but we’d also suggest that you use the RCOG’s information for patients with recurrent miscarriage, both for yourself and perhaps for conversations with your own doctor or healthcare team. We also have a leaflet on recurrent miscarriage.
On mental health – take a look at our web pages on miscarriage and mental health. There is information there about some of the difficult feelings that people experience as well as suggestions for looking after your mental health. There’s a leaflet there too.
On pregnancy after loss Take a look at our page on this topic, which aims to help people through the anxiety this time can bring. There’s comment there from a specialist recurrent miscarriage nurse as well as personal stories as well as a leaflet.
Other people’s stories
Reading the stories that others have shared about their experience of recurrent miscarriage might also be helpful. Everyone’s experience and feelings are unique to them of course, but you are likely to find some stories that really resonate with you, perhaps including Janette’s story, where she talks on camera about the ongoing impact of her losses.
You might find comfort in knowing that your doubts and fears are shared by others, and some helpful ideas from others saying what helped them through. They might inspire you to share your own story, knowing that you too will be helping others.
Above all, we hope they will make you feel understood and less alone.