The Experience of a Miscarriage
“It seems like a wisp of time that you were here.
Places ache inside as I silently mourn.”
The loss of a baby at any stage of pregnancy can have a profound impact on parents.
Miscarriage is common. It is estimated that 20-25% of all pregnancies end with the loss of the baby through miscarriage. Miscarriage is a widely used term for early pregnancy loss, which can also be experienced through an ectopic pregnancy or a termination of pregnancy.
The gestational age of the baby is often not what is important. After weeks of dreaming, imagining and planning it is also the loss of those hopes and dreams for the future. To feel sad, empty and bewildered at this time is understandable.
Reactions and responses to early pregnancy loss are individual and may range from an experience of little significance to a devastating life event. Often, parents describe a bonding or attachment to their baby very early in pregnancy, or even prior to conception. When the baby dies, many parents feel the loss of the hopes, plans and dreams they had for their future.
Following miscarriage parents may experience a range of emotions. For many parents, there is no baby to grieve over and few memories. Friends and relatives may not acknowledge that the baby ever existed and parents may feel left alone in their grief.
Partners often grieve in different ways. Everyone is an individual and what is right for one person may not be right for another. It’s important that partners communicate with each other at this time and be aware of each other’s feelings.
Many women experience bleeding in the days leading up to miscarriage. For others the pregnancy ends suddenly, with no warning at all.
Some women may find out their baby has died when they have an ultrasound and no heartbeat is detected. Initially you may be encouraged to allow the miscarriage to occur naturally. If this does not happen or is incomplete a D&C (dilation and curettage) may be required.
During these uncertain times many women experience a seesaw of hope and anxiety and can find themselves in a state of shock, struggling to believe that a miscarriage has really occurred. One day you’re pregnant and planning for a future with your child and then, within such a short time, all your hopes and dreams are shattered.
Parents are often left with many questions. Why did it happen? Will it happen again? Was it something I did?
It can be helpful to ask your doctor or health carer any questions you may have. There may be no answers but you have a right to be informed if the information is available.
Just those few weeks By Susan Erling
For those few weeks –
I had you to myself.
And that seems too short a time –
To be changed so profoundly.
In those few weeks –
I came to know you…
And to love you.
You came to trust me with your life.
Oh, what a life I had planned for you!
Just those few weeks –
When I lost you,
I lost a lifetime of hopes,
Plans, dreams and aspirations…
A slice of my future simply vanished overnight.
Just those few weeks –
It wasn’t enough time to convince others
How special and important you were.
How odd, a truly unique person has recently died
And no one is mourning the passing.
Just a mere few weeks –
And no “normal” person would cry all night
Over a tiny, unfinished baby,
Or get depressed and withdraw day after endless day.
No one would, so why am I?
You were just those few weeks my little one
You darted in and out of life too quickly.
But it seems that’s all the time you needed
To make my life so much richer
And give me a small glimpse of eternity.
(Used with permission)
This article was prepared using extracts from Miscarriage: Information for Parents and Families.1 The full text is available online or contact Red Nose Grief and Loss Services on 1300 308 307 for a printed version.
Last reviewed: 17/12/18
- Braithwaite, J., Richardson, R. & Waterson, P. (eds.). (2011). Miscarriage: Information for Parents and Families ( M.McSpedden, H. Wilkinson, L. Pash, T. Diamond & M. Zang, Rev.) (7th ed.). Lilyfield, NSW: SIDS and Kids NSW.