Pregnancy after miscarriage is NOT the same as pregnancy without loss.
With loss can come a shift from naivety and excitement to worry and fear. There’s more panicked trips to the bathroom and more holding of breath. Everyone is different in their path but here are some things I have learned along the way, as a doula and a parent, about pregnancy after miscarriage.
Have compassion for yourself
Shift your expectations. While you want your growing baby to be showered in nonstop love and joy, exuding excitement may not be possible all of the time and maybe not even most of the time. And that’s okay.
Society may want you to be a nonstop smiling pregnant person but the reality is messier than that. Pregnancy after miscarriage can be a complicated mix of emotions. We can be grateful for growing baby AND mourning a previous pregnancy. It’s okay to feel anxious and doubtful AND excited to meet your baby. We can have good days AND bad days and sometimes they are the same day.
Have compassion for all sides of yourself. The self who is in celebratory mode and the self who is afraid. There is space and time for both.
Having daily practices can help
Unknowingly I created daily practices in my third pregnancy after two miscarriages that allowed me to connect with my body and my baby. Two things that I felt uncertain about: How could I trust my body again? How on earth could I let myself get attached to a baby I was afraid to lose?
After a fearful first couple of weeks, I decided I was going to spend time each day being grateful for the present moment with my growing baby. I vowed that for those minutes I was going to choose hope over fear. I would put my hands on my belly and take slow deep breaths, imagining myself sending warmth, breath and goodness to my baby with every inhale, picturing my baby nestling in contentedly. And I would thank and love my baby.
I knew that no one could guarantee me anything but that I could be happy and grateful for those moments with my baby. Some days I could hold onto that feeling beyond those breaths and into my day. Other days it was fleeting and I could slip into fearful places. Having a daily practice gave me something to hold onto without being fake and without having to commit to a pregnancy full of false smiles.
For some people it is difficult to allow yourself those moments. And what works for you may look very different from what worked for me. Maybe your daily practice will be less about your baby and more about caring for yourself in a soothing way. Stopping to enjoy a cup of tea. Listening to loud or calming music. Stretching in the morning. Mindfulness to slow down the busy mind. Breathing the fresh air in the park. Do the things that make you feel good and make them a priority. (I also encourage these things for parenthood!)
Build your support system for pregnancy and birth
There can be a lot of loneliness in miscarriage and the pregnancies that follow. Having good support during pregnancy after loss can make a big difference in your experience.
A partner, a friend, a family member, a therapist, all of the above and more. Seek out people who will listen to all of the different emotions that may come up. People who will support you when you are feeling afraid without handwaving it away and telling you to focus on the positives.
A birth doula can also be an amazing part of your support system because we are there for you during pregnancy from the moment you sign on. We know the impact loss can have and we can listen without trying to fix it (you cannot fix this!). Pregnancy after miscarriage can be a rollercoaster.
Partners often need support too. They have concerns and fears of their own and they don’t have the same physical reminders of how baby is doing.
Trust that you will integrate your loss into your story
For some, miscarriage comes with profound grief and loss. My own life has a distinct split of before my miscarriages and after the losses.
Here’s the thing that people get wrong, the thread of grief and pain that started with my first loss didn’t end with the birth of my son. In fact you can still see the threads from my losses in the tapestry of my life today. It’s woven into my story, into my present, into me, into my work.
Yes there are more prominent threads now, whole new chapters of parenthood: newborn days, toddlerdom and now into school. And sometimes the threads of grief are less visible but they are there all the same, peeking out.
Weaving my miscarriages into my story didn’t happen because people told me: “It wasn’t meant to be”, “You’ll have another baby”, “Good thing you lost the pregnancy early” or any of the misguided things well-meaning people said. And it didn’t happen because my sons were born.
Integrating my losses into my story came with time, processing, talking and having people who would listen. It came from having compassion for myself and space to grieve even when I was pregnant again. Trust that you will find what you need along the way.
October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month
Sending love to so many people as we mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness month. Loss touches far too many and often in silence. We aim to break that silence and boost up support.