Experiencing a miscarriage can be painful and traumatic, leaving many women feeling isolated and heartbroken. With self-compassion, you can embark on a healing journey to recover from this difficult time.
As many as 26% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, impacting about 1 in 10 women who know they’re pregnant. The vast majority of miscarriages are the result of factors beyond your control. Even though it's natural to search for answers and wonder if you could have done something differently, miscarriage is a common and natural occurrence. You deserve understanding, support, and empathy during this time, and it's important to be gentle with yourself as you navigate your journey of recovery.
Taking some time to yourself after a miscarriage can help give you the space you need to heal physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you’re working, California law requires all employers to provide at least three days of paid sick leave, which can be used to heal from a miscarriage. Additionally, under the federal family leave law and California’s family leave law, covered workers can take time off for their own serious health condition, which includes a miscarriage.
Following a miscarriage, your body will undergo several physical changes as it recovers. It's essential to have a healthcare provider closely monitor your progress and address any complications that might arise. Often, women experience bleeding, cramping, hormonal fluctuations, and a possible drop in iron levels due to blood loss.
The physical recovery from a miscarriage can vary widely and will depend on how far along you were into the pregnancy. In general, most women experience bleeding for up to about a week, followed by the renewal of their regular menstrual cycle within 3–6 weeks. Pay attention to any bleeding you experience in the 1–2 weeks following your miscarriage. If you notice an increase in bleeding, large clots, or an unusual odor, consult your healthcare provider as these symptoms could indicate complications.
In addition to working with your doctor on your physical recovery, do your best to get plenty of rest, drink water, and eat nutritious foods. Avoid heavy lifting, intense exercise, and sexual intercourse until you're fully recovered and your healthcare provider has cleared you for these activities. This can usually take anywhere from two to six weeks, depending on your individual situation.
For many women, grieving the loss of a pregnancy is the most difficult—and essential—part of the healing process. When you can, acknowledge and express your emotions. Sadness, anger, guilt, or disbelief are all feelings experienced by those who have gone through a miscarriage. Some women find it helpful to do calming activities to help them recover emotionally, like going for a gentle walk, making art, writing, cuddling a pet, listening to favorite music, or other healing activities.
If possible, try reaching out to friends, family members, or support groups for guidance, comfort, and understanding. Connecting with others who have experienced pregnancy loss can offer a sense of shared experience and empathy during a difficult time. An organization called Share has created a list of miscarriage support groups throughout California. Very Well Family also compiled an international list of support groups for women who have experienced a miscarriage.
A professional therapist or counselor can provide a safe space for you to discuss your feelings and develop healthy coping strategies to help you move forward.
Some women find comfort in creating a ritual to honor their lost pregnancy. This can provide a tangible way to commemorate your loss and keep the memory of your child close. Some ideas can include:
Write a letter to your baby telling them how much you love them. Or write a letter to yourself and share your feelings surrounding the loss.
Plant a tree or garden in honor of your baby. Some women find fulfillment in contributing to a community garden to spread the love.
Honor your baby by lighting a candle and having a moment of silence. You can try making this a part of your weekly or daily routine.
Go on a vacation or take a staycation. Getting away from your usual routine during a time of loss can be helpful, especially if your home is a source of sadness and difficult feelings.
Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and mindful living can help you create a sense of calm and acceptance as you navigate your emotional journey. If you're a spiritual person, consider seeking comfort in prayer, attending religious services, or engaging in spiritual practices you connect with.
Healing from a miscarriage is a deeply unique and personal journey that requires time, patience, and self-compassion. By addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of recovery and seeking out the support you need, you can begin to make peace with your loss and move forward with renewed strength and hope.