Life after loss. What to do after you have a miscarriage.
In honour of pregnancy and infant loss awareness month, let me first give my sincerest condolences for all of those who have lost pregnancies, babies, children, and a little piece of themselves in the process.
Nothing can prepare you for how your body, your heart and your soul react to a pregnancy loss. Some people need only days to recover, and for others, life will never be the same. While having ongoing emotional support is the most important aspect to help you process your loss, support from friends and family (if they know about the loss) can be awkward and short lived. Sadly, even physical care is often short and inconsistent at best.
Support after a loss is pivotal for proper recovery and for preparing the body for a healthy pregnancy in the future, should you chose to try again.
When someone comes to me during or after a loss, I will customize my treatment plans depending on their age, health history, constitution and stage of loss. My focus is to help the body recover and reset. I want to rebalance hormones, ensure that the lining has fully shed so that a healthy fresh lining can grow, as well as rebuild any nutritional deficiencies that may have occurred during the pregnancy or during the loss itself. I will often change up supplements and give a Chinese herbal formula to aid healing and recovery. My goal is, to have the person be stronger, more balanced and healthier than they were going into the pregnancy. This is especially important if the person would like to try to conceive again. If the cause for the loss is known, together we create steps to prevent future losses.
Although my treatments are individualized, here are some of my general tips for what to do during and after a miscarriage:
1. Rest: We hear this a lot, but how many of us actually take time off to rest and recover. If it was a very straight forward miscarriage and you feel strong and relatively unscathed, I would still suggest taking a day or two off just to allow your body a chance to reset. For those losses that are more intense physically or emotionally, you may need to request a week or more off from work. For some, taking time off work is not easy and can be complicated and met with resistance (this is something I find secretly infuriating). If this is the case for you, most doctors will happily write a note to back up your request. Remember that taking time off is not a sign of weakness. You should not be sucking it up and moving on. Take some time. Drink tea, watch some shows, read a little, colour, write, cry, whatever you need to allow your body and heart a moment to process what just occurred.
2. Stay warm: Now this is a very Chinese medicine thing to do. The idea is that because we are more open and often weakened immediately after a miscarriage, we are more susceptible to the elements. Cold congeals and contracts and can worsen cramping and clotting. Staying warm and eating warm foods helps the smooth passing of blood and good circulation as you rebuild your lining. Make sure to wear socks, cover your lower back, and stay bundled up if you have to go outside in the cold.
3. Comfort food: I am not talking about eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, although I will not judge if you do. I am referring to eating soups, stews, slow cooked meat and root vegetables, which is a gentle way of nourishing the body with the least amount of digestive energy. The nutrients are easily absorbed and the warmth is often comforting.
4. Keep taking your iron supplements. Whether it’s the iron in your prenatal, or an iron supplement that has been prescribed, iron often takes a plunge in pregnancy and can be further depleted if there is heavy bleeding.
5. Pay attention to your internal dialogue. Feelings and thoughts will come and go, and strong emotions may catch you by surprise. We often search for a reason for the loss, someone or something to blame. That person can often be ourselves. Being mindful of what you are telling yourself can help steer you away from dark places. Let the thoughts come, then let them pass. Remember to be kind to yourself. You do not need tough love right now, not from doctors, friends, family, or yourself. Having professional support from a counsellor can be very helpful in processing the sometimes surprising feelings that arise.
I can’t promise that time will heal. All I can say is that you deserve to be cared for, you deserve to be supported, and I want to see you strong and healthy. From there, healing will happen in it’s own time and it’s own way.
Dr. Emilie Salomons