Miscarriage happens in one out of every four pregnancies. It can impact people who are battling infertility or people who have no fertility problems at all.
Miscarriage can occur randomly on a first pregnancy or after someone already has several children. It can be recurrent and happen over and over again, sometimes for more than one reason.
Miscarriage is a complicated medical and emotional issue—women who’ve gone through it often feel the weight of pregnancy in many ways, sometimes for weeks or months after they know their pregnancy has ended.
Pregnancy loss is devastating all around, and when you get pregnant again after a miscarriage, it can often be nerve-wracking in a best-case scenario, or it can inspire severe anxiety and fear.
Many women have been pregnant successfully after one or more losses, but that doesn’t mean that it was easy to get through those nine months of pregnancy.
I have three healthy children, all of them born after multiple miscarriages. Each pregnancy I battled anxiety, fear, and even panic attacks because of my previous experiences of loss.
However, I did find better and healthier ways to cope, and I even found ways to enjoy pregnancy—so much so that, in spite of all the anxiety, I miss being pregnant when I’m not.
Here are some proactive and tried-and-true ways to manage anxiety during pregnancy after miscarriage.
8 Ways to Manage Anxiety During Pregnancy
Every pregnancy is different, so there’s no single right or wrong to handle it.
With my first two children, I wanted to announce their pregnancies as quickly as possible, in hopes that somehow it would help me cling to the reality that I was expecting again.
With my third child, it took a long time to want to announce it publicly, and I ended up waiting til the third trimester.
How you feel from one day to the next could be different, and that’s okay. It’s important to be in touch with how you’re feeling and be open to asking for support in whatever way you need it.
This also includes giving yourself grace and understanding that pregnancy after miscarriage can feel like a roller coaster no matter what you do.
Focus on Joy
It’s hard to feel happy or even joyful about pregnancy when you’ve had a loss before. Even if you tried for a long time to get pregnant again, or where feeling very excited about it initially, it’s normal to feel hit with anxiety, terror, and even panic.
It’s easy to lose the joy when the weight of fear and worry set in.
You can find small ways to focus on the joy to help you cope with anxiety. This could include hanging a photo of your scan to the refrigerator, or making it the wallpaper for your smartphone.
It could mean saving those positive pregnancy tests to look at. It could mean starting a baby registry to focus on all those things you’ll need for baby. It could mean telling family or close friends who can share in your joy and also offer moral support when you’re feeling scared.
There is always risk in joy. However, with each of my losses, I’ve always felt grief and pain. I would have felt that even if I had tried to be detached from the pregnancy.
By embracing joy, I was able to start finding things to be happy about, which was a good distraction when I worried over things I could not control. I could not force my happy scenario, or a healthy baby to be born, but I could choose to be as positive as possible.
Allow Grief When It Comes
Even when I was expecting a healthy baby, there were plenty of times when grief would overwhelm me from previous pregnancies that I lost. Perhaps a due date came when I should have been having a baby, or someone else announced a pregnancy, or I got invited to a baby shower for someone due at the same time I would have been.
The grief and triggers that can occur are seemingly endless. Assuming you’ll never feel grief is unrealistic. Instead, allowing yourself to feel all of your feelings, instead of trying to bury them, will help keep your heart as free as possible to experience joy when that’s present, too.
See a Therapist
If you’ve had a miscarriage and are pregnant again, don’t underestimate the value of working with a licensed mental health professional.
Even if you feel fine, it’s proactive to work with someone who can help you process anxiety when it comes, or address grief when it rears its head. It might also just be helpful to have someone to talk with when the normal fears and worries about motherhood manifest.
Sometimes anxiety is a manifestation of depression. If you’ve been through loss, or have a history of depression, it’s not unreasonable to assume that you could have prenatal depression.
Work with your doctor or healthcare provider to determine if what you need is a pregnancy-safe antidepressant. Remember, part of the baby’s health is ensuring that the mother is healthy, and mental health is a big part of that.
Taking care of your mental health during pregnancy also sets you up for a better postpartum period, too, as women who battle depression during pregnancy are more likely to have postpartum depression.
Work with an Understanding Healthcare Provider
One of the things that kept me sane during my pregnancies after miscarriage was having an OBGYN who understood my history, my fears, and my need for reassurance.
When I started bleeding in the first trimester with my son, my doctor worked me in for an ultrasound in less than an hour. I was so relieved to see that the baby was fine, and the reason for bleeding had nothing to do with impending loss.
With subsequent pregnancies, it was helpful to have healthcare providers who did not judge me for wanting extra ultrasounds or monitoring for my high-risk issues.
They were never too busy to work me in, and they always answered questions. If your doctor’s office is too busy to give you the care that your anxiety needs, it might be time to find one who is more able to do so.
While you can’t dominate all of your provider’s time, you are essentially a paying customer, and you should not feel put off or ignored when you have anxiety or other concerns.
I saw an OBGYN during one of my early losses who told me that my concerns were normal and that things would be fine. Things were not fine, and I had a miscarriage. Her cavalier response to my loss was that my next pregnancy was sure to be normal.
It, again, was not. While most cases of pregnancy loss are not recurrent like mine were, you should feel that your healthcare provider is compassionate whether you’re going through loss or you’re battling anxiety and fear as you’re pregnant after loss.
Avoid Triggers (and Yes, That Often Means Social Media)
Even when I was pregnant, I found pregnancy announcements to be very triggering for anxiety. It would make me wonder if they’d have their baby and I’d lose mine, or any of various other tracks of worry.
The answer for me was to limit the amount of “noise” entering my already anxious mind.
I considered each of the things that could send my brain spiraling into worry, and I consciously limited those exposures. This meant, for me, less social media, not attending baby showers, and speaking openly about pregnancy after loss.
For someone else, it could look entirely different. Being connected with what helps and hurts your anxiety is the important first step, followed by action steps after that to help protect your mental health.
You don’t have to feel selfish about this either. What triggers you now probably won’t later, and there may come a day when these things won’t bother you anymore. We have to be understanding and supportive of our own seasonal needs in life.
Pregnancy after miscarriage is it’s own unique and emotionally demanding season. Don’t minimize that or determine that what you’re going through isn’t really that bad.
There was a day not that long ago that no one had social media. Needing to step back from yours for a time period will not cause the world to stop and could be instrumental in your mental wellbeing.
Find Someone Who’s Been There Before
I had several friends who’d survived pregnancy after miscarriage, and being able to reach out to them via text or message helped keep me sane. I’d be able to just say “I’m having a very anxiety day today,” and they would get it. Feeling seen and understood through the process is half the battle.
For each of my pregnancies, I always had someone I could turn to when I just needed someone to get me. I’ve also been able to be that friend to many others I know who’ve been pregnant after miscarriage.
There is lots of room for encouragement, support, and yes—even positive outcomes from the unique stress and grief of pregnancy after loss. Some of my dearest friends came into my life during that season.
Understand That There’s No One Right Way to Go Through Pregnancy After Loss
You can feel miserable. You can feel detached or disconnected. You can feel overly obsessive. You might feel all of the above several times throughout one day.
You may not feel bonded to this pregnancy for fear of loss, or you may feel so connected that you find out the sex of the baby, name him or her, and announce it to everyone early.
There is no guidebook on how to be pregnant after loss. You can hate how pregnancy makes you feel (nausea, reflux, back pain, etc.) and still desperately want to be pregnant. You can despise the anxiety and still feel joy about the hoped-for outcome.
Beyond the stress of previous loss, you’re also dealing with normal pregnancy hormones and emotions. No one could possibly demand that a woman who’s going through pregnancy after miscarriage be levelheaded or calm or anything.
Take each moment as it comes, and realize that what you’re feeling is okay.
If someone tells you that you can’t feel or say this or that, realize they’re not a valuable part of your support network and find someone else who will be there for you as you experience the natural ups and downs of pregnancy after miscarriage.
Grief and joy are not mutually exclusive—you can even feel both at the same time. There’s no one right way to process all of it.
Realize That Some Amount of Anxiety is Normal
Even women who’ve never been through any type of loss or infertility will tell you that they were anxious during their pregnancies for one or more reasons.
Whether it’s because they knew someone who went through a loss or it took a long time to get pregnant or they’re an older first-time mom, there are plenty of reasons and ways for women to battle anxiety during pregnancy.
When you’ve lost a pregnancy before, the reasons are just magnified.
I thought my worries during the second and third trimester were because I had so many losses, but a friend who’d never had any miscarriages told me one day that she was terrified for the entire second half of her pregnancy that she’d have a stillbirth.
She had no previous loss to create that anxiety or trigger it, other than pregnancy hormones can do strange things and it’s normal as a mother to worry about your children.
It’s even harder when you cannot see them in utero and you have absolutely zero control over what’s going on in there. It might be in your body, but it sometimes feels like it’s galaxies away, for all the control you can have.
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