Last week’s blog post was about the unique grief that comes along with a miscarriage. This grief can be debilitating and isolating and can go on for a long time. It’s difficult to think about caring for yourself during times like this, but this is when it’s most important to do so. If you’re able to work some of these ideas into your grieving process, they may ease some of the struggles and help you make it through until you can stand again.
Our St. Louis Therapist Suggests Five Ways to Care For Yourself After a Miscarriage
1. Give Yourself Permission To Grieve
The world keeps going even after you lose a baby. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep moving with it. It’s okay to just stop and let yourself feel your grief, until you’re ready to re-enter your normal routines.
If your miscarriage happened early in your pregnancy, people might minimize what you’re feeling and may even try to push you back into normal life. You don’t have to let them.
It doesn’t matter when in your pregnancy the loss occurred; you are still grieving the loss of your child.
Everyone moves through grief at different speeds, and only you can dictate your personal process. So forget what everyone else says and move at whatever pace you need.
2. Feel Your Feelings
Embracing the intensity of your feelings can be difficult. But try to avoid numbing and avoiding your pain by getting back to things too quickly. It’s important that you let yourself go through whatever painful emotions you have, because if you don’t, they may resurface later and knock you over. Ignoring feelings doesn’t work; they only get stronger when you don’t allow yourself to feel them. The only way out is through.
Engaging with your emotions might look like writing in a journal, talking to a family member or friend, doing art, or seeking help from a therapist. There’s no ‘right’ way to go through your feelings, as long as you’re allowing them to exist so you can process them.
3. Take Care Of Your Physical Health
It’s important to put your mental health first. But remember to care for your physical health, too. Your body has been through a traumatic experience and will need some gentle treatment. Communicate with your doctor and follow their instructions. If you need rest, take rest.
As you navigate the depression after your miscarriage, it becomes even more important to care for your health. You may not feel up to doing anything strenuous but try to engage in gentle movement if you have the energy.
Get outside, or take a shower. Do whatever makes you feel stronger and more in control, whether it's yoga or journaling or getting a massage or taking a walk in nature. If you can care for your body in small ways, it can be one more support for you.
These physical health tips apply to men in these situations, as well. While your body might not be dealing with pregnancy hormones, grief creates a physical response in the body, and it is imperative you pay attention to those reactions, and do what you can to tend to those needs.
Grief is an incredibly exhausting experience, so slowing down your normal life pace; nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods (with the well-placed comfort food for balance); and sometimes just laying around is all justified, encouraged, and helpful in the long run.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
Don’t push yourself to go back to work after only a week. Don’t agree to go to a baby shower you can’t handle just because you don’t want to be rude. Don’t set a mental clock that dictates that you only have a short amount of time to grieve. These goals are rarely realistic or helpful.
Expect that you will be sad a lot, and that you might start feeling better and then feel sadness again.
Understand that your body might not be back up at full energy and don’t overdo physical activity. If this is the first time you’ve experienced a miscarriage, expect that you don’t know what to expect. And if you’ve gone through it before, don’t rely on last time being the same as the first. If you set realistic expectations, you won’t have to feel like you’re disappointing yourself.
It’s also important to give your partner this courtesy. They are grieving too, but they might be showing it in different ways or trying to hide it from you. But if they’re having trouble dealing with day-to-day obligations, or if they get short with you, it’s important to remember they’re in pain. That doesn’t excuse bad behavior—but it might add some context that will help you handle conflict.
It’s most important to just be open with each other about how you’re both doing. Talk about how you both feel so you’re both on the same page and know where the other person is in their grieving cycle.
5. Make Sure You Have A Support System
Friends and family want to help. If that help is useful to you, try to let them. If you need someone to talk to, it’s okay to ask. If you want to just spend time with someone not talking about things, you can ask for that, too.
Joining a support group is also an option. Many more people are speaking openly about miscarriages, which means that more people are coming together to heal. You may be able to find a group with other people going through what you are, a place where you feel safe to talk and have your feelings validated. There is power in healing from grief with people who understand what you’re going through on a personal level.
You should also reach out to a mental health professional, like a therapist. You might have a hard time talking through your feelings, or your family and friends might really struggle to give you the space and conversations you need.
A therapist will listen to you with their whole attention, and you can tell them things you might not be comfortable telling the people in your circle. They will also be aware of potential mental health warning signs, so if you need more intensive help everyone will be able to act faster.
Miscarriage is devastating. There’s so much happening all at once in your body and in your mind. Engaging in these self-care strategies won’t make your grief go away, but they will help you deal with it in as healthy a way as you can. You are fighting a hard battle, and it’s beneficial to have every support possible.
If you want a therapist to help you navigate your grief with you, you can connect with us at Marble Wellness. We have a team of therapists who are trained in maternal mental health, and we would be honored to walk with you on your journey through grief, so that we can support you while you heal.
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Our St. Louis team of therapists have a variety of training backgrounds and areas of expertise. We specialize in anxiety, depression, grief, chronic illness, therapy for men, couples, and maternal overwhelm. We can also help new moms with various postpartum concerns, moms in the thick of parenting, and moms with teens. We can also chat from wherever you are in the state with online therapy in Missouri and online therapy in Illinois. No matter where you are in your journey, we would love to support you.
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