Coping with Miscarriage and Stillbirth

WorriedGirl PostCoping with Miscarriage and Stillbirth

With all the joy and excitement pregnancy offers, it can be brutal when it sometimes ends in devastation. Miscarriage and stillbirth are emotionally difficult to deal with as both involve the death of a baby. The difference is that miscarriage happens when the baby dies before 20 weeks’ gestation; stillbirth is after 20 weeks.

Miscarriage basics

Miscarriage occurs in 10-15% of pregnancies, and most of those are within the first trimester (the first 13 weeks of pregnancy). Sometimes the reason for miscarriage is unknown, but there are risk factors that can increase the chances of having a miscarriage. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Genetic problems or birth defects – Down syndrome, too few or too many chromosomes, etc.
  • Mom’s health complications – Preeclampsia, high blood pressure, obesity
  • Substance abuse or smoking
  • Blighted ovum – The term used when a fertilized egg implants on the uterus but does not develop into a fetus.

After having a miscarriage, your body will need several weeks to two months to recover. It’s possible to become pregnant again after the first menstrual period, but many women feel the need to take more time to work through the grief of losing a baby.


Stillbirth usually happens before a mother goes into labor and affects 1% of pregnancies. There are many causes of stillbirth, some of which include:

  • Complications during pregnancy, such as prolonged pregnancy, gestational diabetes, premature labor, obesity, or injury.
  • Placental or umbilical problems – If the placenta or umbilical cord malfunctions, the baby cannot receive the nutrients and oxygen needed.
  • Infections harming mother or baby
  • Problems with the baby’s health, like a genetic disorder, Rh disease, or fetal growth restriction.

The biggest indicator of stillbirth is when you stop feeling your baby moving and kicking in the womb, but other signs include vaginal bleeding and cramping. Your doctor will probably want to do an ultrasound to check the baby. Even if you’ve had a miscarriage or stillbirth in a previous pregnancy, chances are good that you can still have a healthy baby. Your doctor may want to do some testing to determine the cause of the stillbirth before you get pregnant again.

Coping with stillbirth or miscarriage

Overcoming grief is a unique experience for everyone. It may help you to talk about your baby or share your story with other parents who have lost a child through a local or online support group. Talk with your healthcare provider about postpartum depression or grief counseling. Some families arrange for some type of keepsake, such as a lock of hair or a blanket used for your baby in the hospital. It’s important to take care of yourself so your body and mind can heal. Get enough sleep and try to exercise every day. If your feelings of grief are so intense that they prevent you from living life, you can talk to your doctor about getting treatment for depression. Emotional healing doesn’t mean you forget about your baby; it’s about finding a way to cope and remember her.

Going through a miscarriage or stillbirth is undeniably difficult, but your body can heal and in most cases, produce a healthy baby. For most, the grief of losing a baby is much more challenging to deal with. Give yourself time to recover and seek the help you need.

Do you have any advice for parents working through a miscarriage or stillbirth? Share with us in the comments.


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