Coping With Miscarriage - It's Not Your Fault
Coping with miscarriage entails understanding the myths surrounding pregnancy loss. Many miscarriage myths cause a grieving mother to believe she is to blame for the death of her developing child. The woman, then, must suffer a heavy burden-one which she should not carry because miscarriage usually does not occur as a result of a woman's actions. It is important to dispel these myths to alleviate undue feelings of guilt a woman may feel because of her loss.
Some of the miscarriage myths most worrisome to women are those that blame a woman's physical activity for the loss of a pregnancy. Activities such as exercise, sexual intercourse, horseback riding, and airplane trips are generally believed to cause miscarriage. Such myths also inherently suggest that bed rest will help prevent miscarriage. Therefore, when a woman miscarries, she is bombarded with feelings of inadequacy (she is a woman who cannot carry a pregnancy to term) and guilt (for supposedly causing the miscarriage). However, it is important to remember that during a healthy first-trimester a woman may continue with her normal physical activities without the risk of losing her developing child. For instance, exercise can cause uterine contractions. When this occurs, the contractions may help to expel an already unhealthy pregnancy-one predestined to end early. Exercise merely brings about a miscarriage sooner, helping the body to expel a pregnancy that would have ended anyway.
Coping With Miscarriage - Understanding the Myths
Coping with miscarriage is a difficult process and, because of this, many doctors recommend that women with a history of miscarriage not perform the physical activities listed above. The reason doctors often recommend abstinence from such activities is not because the myths are true. Instead, doctors offer such advice so they may shield their patient from the guilt of a recurring miscarriage. Even with a doctor's assurance, a woman may still believe her miscarriage occurred because of her physical activity. By abstaining from such activities, the woman who repeatedly miscarries frees herself from harboring more guilt if subsequent miscarriages follow.
Coping with miscarriage may prove a more difficult task when compounded with the knowledge that substance use potentially caused the lost pregnancy. Many women are unaware of their pregnancy until weeks or months after conception. During this time of unknowing, the mother may have engaged in excessive substance use (caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs). The important point to remember is that the woman was unaware of her child's life and should not feel at fault for the miscarriage. Instead, these women need to focus on potential future pregnancies and decide whether they are willing to eliminate these behaviors so as to reduce the risk of recurring miscarriages.
Coping With Miscarriage - Remember, God Loves Your Baby Too
Coping with miscarriage becomes easier when others validate the grieving mother's loss. Unfortunately, in a society set on debating whether an embryo or fetus classifies as a human life, a mother may not find proper validation for her loss. Why would a society, unsure about the status of a fetus, offer the same sympathies for a miscarriage as for the death of a toddler? If the lost one is not considered a child, why grieve? Many women who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy, however, love the developing embryo or fetus as a child even for the short time he or she existed. And why would a mother feel otherwise? The Bible states that God validates a child as a person from the beginnings of life in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Surely a mother-whose womb carries the life God knows and forms-develops an inherent understanding of and love for the child within her.
In a Psalm to God, David states, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:13-16). A young woman, after experiencing a miscarriage at nine weeks gestation, found David's words comforting. She writes, "I literally held my baby in the palm of my hand. As I stared at her tiny form, crying that God would give her back, I couldn't help but notice the intricacies of her already-formed fingers. There were five on the end of both arms and each finger stretched out from the other, so that I could see how delicately she'd been growing inside of me. Psalm 139 reminds me that through each process of her development, God watched her in amazement. He 'knit' her together. How incredible. And I take comfort in the fact that He must have loved her just as much as I did and still do-i as her mother, He as her creator. Verse 16 offers even more reassurance. God knew every day my baby would have. He knew she'd have nine weeks of life inside of me. God was okay with that amount of time and I think I can accept that. I miss my baby terribly, but I know that she lived each and every day she was given, developing as God intended. And now she's in Heaven with Him and He can hold her until I'm ready to. My husband and I named her Angel. She's our Angel in Heaven."