While most people are aware of the physical aspects of healing after a miscarriage, perhaps less understood and on some levels, even more important, is the emotional healing that needs to happen after such a massive loss.
"I think that one of the most difficult facets for a woman to deal with after a miscarriage is the anxiety level that she suffers after such a traumatic episode," explains Dr. Ricardo Huete, MD, Chief of OB/GYN of Torrance Memorial Medical Center in California. "It's very difficult to deal with the emotions that a loss of a pregnancy brings."
Dr. Huete explains that woman have to undergo what he calls an "emotional healing" after a miscarriage. "We need to remember that everybody is different dealing in with a stressful situation; everybody needs an individual approach and reassurance."
Along with the emotional healing of a miscarriage, Dr. Huete recommends that all women who have suffered a miscarriage follow the known recommendations for physical healing, especially in preparation for any future pregnancies, such as reducing alcohol intake, stopping use of drugs and smoking, taking vitamins, good nutrition intake, and maintaining an exercise regime.
Additionally, women can understand that healing after a miscarriage will take place in two ways:
Physical healing after a miscarriage may depend on how far along in the pregnancy the loss occurred. Miscarriages that occur early enough during the first trimester may need no further treatment than rest and recovery at home. In the case that a D & C was needed to remove extra tissue, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that most women should be able to resume regular activities within 1-2 days. Additionally, following a D & C, the uterus will form a new lining that will need to be shed, which may cause an early or late first menstrual cycle.
Whether a woman has experienced a spontaneous loss or required surgery, most physicians recommend waiting 1-2 full menstrual cycles before attempting another pregnancy in order to allow full physical healing and hormonal re-balancing. That said, according to the ACOG, ovulation can occur as early as two weeks after an early miscarriage.
"Multiple questions arise after [a miscarriage,]" explains Dr. Huete. "A woman may question her capacity of carrying a pregnancy or there may be a strong sense of guilt, often from thinking that she has done something wrong that affected the pregnancy. There are also questions about how she could have prevented it."
The emotional aspects of miscarriage took Joanna Schlaud, a mother of three who has experienced two pregnancy losses, by surprise. "It's such an emotional thing," said Joanna. "I remember being really hurt when we went through them. Everything was so awkward with friends and so clinical at the doctor's office." When people tried to console her with the common sentiment, "Don't worry, you'll have more babies!" Joanna found herself retreating in hurt. "I wasn't worried about having more babies," she explained. "I wanted that baby. The first time, of course, you never really think it is going to happen to you."
Joanna and her husband found that dealing with their grief and loss on their own terms helped them to cope. "We mourned in private and named our babies," said Joanna. "We had a little service by ourselves in our back yard and we have statues for them."
Every woman and couple will deal with miscarriage differently, but what's important to remember is that you need to allow yourself time to heal both physically--and emotionally.
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