Looking after your mental health after pregnancy loss
We all need to look after our mental health. Pregnancy loss may mean you need to take even greater care of yourself for a while. Not all of these suggestions will be right for everyone, but we hope some of them feel right for you.
- Looking after your wellbeing
- Improving your self-esteem
- Coping with loneliness
- Online support
- Talking to your GP
Looking after your wellbeing
Looking after your wellbeing can help you feel more resilient.
Some people we spoke to found mindfulness, yoga, acupuncture or gentle exercise helped them feel calmer and more able to cope. Others said that making a plan for the future and keeping busy was useful.
Read more about looking after your wellbeing on NHS Moodzone.
You don’t need to have reached a crisis point to seek additional support. You might find that talking to a counsellor helps you stay well.
Eating well, sleeping well and regular exercise have been key to building resilience, physical and mental strength.
Improving your self-esteem
We asked women and their partners what helped them with their self-esteem after their loss or losses. These are some of their suggestions.
- Read other people’s stories and remember it’s normal to feel how you do.
- Give yourself time to grieve – let your body and mind adjust.
- Start a new skill or hobby – after feeling so much that my body had let me down I had to remind myself of what it COULD do right. Joining a female voice choir and the therapy of music was hugely instrumental in helping in dark times.
- Challenge yourself – I ran the London Marathon in April and used it to raise funds for the M.A. This made me realise my body is actually strong and it can do amazing things. It’s too easy to blame yourself.
- Get your feelings out in the open by talking or writing things down in letters, a journal or on our website.
- Be kind to yourself – a very kind doctor told me to be kind to myself. I had some time off work and she advised me to do things I enjoyed, to make sure I got outside each day. I felt I had been given permission to begin to heal.
Coping with loneliness
Lots of people told us they felt lonely and isolated after their loss or losses. Here are some of the things that helped them cope.
- I felt less alone by sharing my story online. It helped me tell everyone, without having to say the words out loud.
- I don’t feel comfortable with friends with new babies. I used to hide away now I just openly say it upsets me and people understand.
- Raising awareness really helped me. Getting people involved in the video I did for baby loss awareness week 2015 made me feel less alone and helped turn a negative into a positive.
- I talked about it anonymously on the phone to someone from the M.A. I could say things out loud without feeling judged or worrying about hurting other people’s feelings.
- Spell out exactly how you’re feeling to your partner, don’t assume they will just know or expect that they should.
You might also find it helpful to have a look at our information on other people’s reactions.
You can go online to find information, seek support, express yourself, share experiences and connect with others. Have a look at our page on online support for more information.
Instagram has been my saviour. I set up a private account and connected with others who have been through the same and we all chat and support each other.
Getting professional support for your mental health
It’s hard to admit you need extra support. It can feel quite daunting. You may find things difficult to talk about and hope your feelings will change on their own. They might do. But seeking help early can sometimes prevent your mental health from getting worse.
Talking to your GP
Your GP can make some diagnoses, prescribe medication, tell you more about local support and refer you to counselling or additional support on the NHS.
Ask for a GP you feel comfortable with. It can help to write things down so you know what you want to say. You can even give these notes to the GP in the appointment.
Mind has some useful tips on talking to your GP about your mental health.
After the miscarriage, I went to my GP. I was put on antidepressants for a while and referred to the counselling service at the GP surgery.
You may be offered psychiatric medication. Depending on your situation, you could be offered antidepressants, antipsychotics, sleeping pills or mood stabilisers.
The decision to take medication isn’t always a simple one.
If you were taking medication when you were trying to conceive and/or while pregnant, you may worry that this caused your loss. This is highly unlikely. Most losses occur because of a problem with the egg or sperm cell rather than anything you have done or taken.
You may be thinking of trying again and worry about being on medication while trying to conceive. Or you may be pregnant after your loss and worry about taking medication during your pregnancy.
Although any risks are usually very low, many doctors will err on the side of caution and recommend that you don’t take medication during pregnancy. However, this is not the best approach for everyone.
Ask your doctor to help you make a decision. They should explain the risks of both taking and not taking medication, the safest medications for you and other possible treatment options.
Doctors often have different approaches and experience. Consider getting a second opinion so you can be sure you’ve been given balanced advice.
You could also ask other women about their experiences of taking medication. Local groups or online communities might help you find a range of experiences.
It can be really difficult to find your way through the experience of pregnancy loss on your own. A professional counsellor could offer you extra support. Have a look at our page on counselling after a miscarriage. You may also like to read Mel’s story, in which she describes how counselling helped her.