Coping after a miscarriage – what support is available?

Last updated:
Reviewed by:
Dr Adenekan Oyefeso, Psychologist and Clinical Lead for Mental Health at Livi
Going through a miscarriage can be one of the hardest emotional experiences. Dr Adenekan Oyefeso, Psychologist at Livi and Dr Bryony Henderson, Lead GP, share their advice on what you or a loved one can do after a miscarriage

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It’s estimated that around 1 in 8 women experience miscarriage. Although miscarriages are more common than many people think, it doesn’t make them any less difficult to go through.

‘While it’s common to feel sad and overwhelmed, many people eventually feel better with the right miscarriage support,’ says Dr Oyefeso.

What does a miscarriage feel like?

‘We all experience things in different ways and a miscarriage is no different,’ says Dr Henderson. ‘Some women may have physical symptoms for a few days and others a few weeks. Some have no symptoms at all.’

Physical symptoms include:

  • Vaginal bleeding – this can be heavy, light or spotting
  • Lower abdominal pain, which can vary in intensity from person to person
  • Pregnancy symptoms disappearing

A miscarriage can be a traumatic experience for many people. The emotional effects you may experience include:

  • Despair
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Shame
  • Confusion
  • A sense of loss
  • Feeling lonely or isolated

‘It’s common to struggle with concentration or have flashbacks of the miscarriage. Symptoms can last for weeks or months,’ says Dr Oyefeso. ‘It’s crucial to remember that it’s acceptable to express your emotions.’

What steps can I take to heal emotionally after a miscarriage?

Grief is a natural response to miscarriage, so make sure you give yourself time to grieve. Dr Oyefeso recommends 5 things you can try to help you through the grieving process:

Acknowledge your feelings

Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling, without judgement.

Talk about your experience

It’s essential to open up to someone you trust, who will understand and offer support. It could be a close friend or relative, or members of a support group for women who have gone through a miscarriage.

Take care of yourself

Think about your physical and emotional needs. This may involve getting plenty of rest, exercising, eating nutritious food or going for walks in nature.

Express your grief

You could try writing how you feel in a journal, painting or listening to music that resonates.

Seek further support

If you’re struggling to cope with your grief, there’s lots of support available, like counselling and therapy.

What support is available after a miscarriage?

It may take a while to recover both physically and emotionally after a miscarriage. A doctor can help you with any physical symptoms you’re concerned about, like pain and bleeding, and can also help you access counselling on the NHS if you need it. Alternatively, you may want to consider talking therapy.

‘Talking therapy can help you express your feelings, understand your grief and eventually come to terms with a miscarriage,’ explains Dr Oyefeso. ‘Experienced therapists can help anyone struggling to develop healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with the loss. It can be invaluable for helping the healing process.’

There are lots of resources online, including the Miscarriage Assosciation which has helplines and online chat support to give you support and advice when you’re finding it difficult.

How can a partner or friend provide support through a miscarriage?

Be there emotionally

Miscarriage can be very traumatic, so being supportive and open-minded is key. Offer an ear to talk to and a shoulder to cry on.

Be patient

It’s essential not to pressure someone into simply ‘getting over’ the miscarriage after a certain amount of time.

Be practical

When someone is grieving it can feel impossible to carry out daily tasks. You can help someone through this difficult time by helping with childcare, cooking healthy meals, doing more housework or getting things from the shop.

Ask how you can help

Even if you’re equipped with advice, you can’t read minds. Don’t be afraid to ask your loved one if there’s anything in particular you can do to help or make them feel better.

‘If you’re supporting someone through a miscarriage, be respectful of their wishes. They may not want to talk about it straight away, or they may need to talk about it constantly. Let them set the pace, and most importantly, don’t try to fix the situation. Just let them know you care,’ advises Dr Oyefeso.

Do I need to go to work after a miscarriage?

There’s no limit to the time you can take off work following a miscarriage.

‘It’s important to take as much time as you need to recover, which may mean you need to take a break from work while you rest. Your employer should allow the first 7 days off, and for any further time, a doctor can provide you with a fit note for as long as you need,’ says Dr Henderson.

You might want to consider telling colleagues you trust that you’re grieving so they can provide any additional support the company may have to offer, but it’s entirely up to you.

Can I get pregnant again after a miscarriage?

‘Pregnancy after a miscarriage is common, with many women going on to have healthy babies. Your periods should come back 4-8 weeks after your miscarriage, although the first bleed may be a bit different to your usual period,’ says Dr Henderson.

Avoid having sex until you no longer have any miscarriage symptoms, and if you don’t want to get pregnant again just yet, make sure you use contraception as soon as you start having sex again.

You may need some time to think about whether you want to try again for a baby and when might be the right time. The Miscarriage Association has useful information on things to consider.

When to seek urgent help

The physical signs to look out for

‘Bleeding and pain don’t always mean that you’re going through a miscarriage, but it’s important to seek advice so that more serious causes, like an ectopic pregnancy, can be investigated,’ advises Dr Henderson.

‘If your pain is severe, sharp, happens when you go to the toilet or radiates to your shoulder, seek urgent medical help so an emergency scan can be arranged.’

The emotional signs to look out for

  • Regular feelings of hopelessness, numbness or worthlessness
  • Severe mood swings
  • A regular lack of daily self-care
  • Withdrawing from social contact
  • Engaging in risky behaviour
  • Having suicidal thoughts

‘It’s vital to seek professional help immediately if you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms after a miscarriage,’ says Dr Oyefeso. ‘With the right treatment, it’s possible to overcome emotional distress and live a happy, fulfilling life.’

This article has been approved by Dr Bryony Henderson, Lead GP at Livi and Dr Adenekan Oyefeso, Psychologist and Clinical Lead for Mental Health at Livi.

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If you’re finding it difficult to cope with a miscarriage, a Livi GP can help.

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