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Emotional Aspects of Early Pregnancy Loss

Patient Information

This information was devised by women who have experienced early pregnancy loss and the healthcare professionals who have cared for them.

We hope the information below may be of help to you in dealing with the emotional aspects of your loss, while offering a guide to some of the additional support services available should you require them.

We are so very sorry for your loss
We appreciate that you may be very upset and feel unable to ask some of the many questions that you may have. With this in mind we have put together this information to try to help you.

Follow up care
For the majority of women there is no medical follow up required. However, for others who may have had blood or pathology investigations carried out, follow up arrangements will have been made on an individual basis. Some of these tests can take up to six weeks for the results to become available and it will be around this time that you will be contacted either by letter or given a follow up appointment.

Whilst pregnancy loss is bereavement, it is a different kind of bereavement than perhaps you have experienced before and can bring with it a great deal of complicated and difficult questions and feelings. You may feel very emotional at this time.

Quotes from women who have experienced pregnancy loss:

"I've never cried so much in my whole life. I felt so empty and alone."

"I was terrified when I found out I was pregnant - devastated. It was bad timing and I couldn't imagine myself becoming a mother. Then when I started to bleed I was overcome with guilt for not giving my child the joy its presence deserved - it was my fault that he/she never survived."

"I didn't want to be pregnant - it was a mistake – and although I was really shocked that I had miscarried deep down I felt relieved. After a few days I carried on as normal and don't really think about it.”

"Lots of people miscarry - it's just nature’s way. I'd rather I hadn't gone through it but these things happen.”

"It's been four months since my ectopic pregnancy and although the pain isn't quite as raw I'm still devastated about what happened. My family has been really supportive but I feel that I'm draining them and they are bored with me being so sad."

"It's a bit like a volcano. You think it's dead, but somewhere deep inside, the emotion is still there, waiting for a weak moment to come bursting out.”

You may be able to identify with some of these quotes. These feelings can be with you a long time but gradually they will become less raw and more bearable.

Those around you
It can be difficult for family, friends and work colleagues to find the right words. They often desperately want to comfort you and somehow 'make it better' and this can often lead to them saying some insensitive things.

For example:

"If one more person tells me I'm young and I have plenty of time to have another baby - I'll explode. Yes it's probably true but they are missing the point - I wanted this one – I want the baby I've lost."

"Oh well, at least it wasn't planned - the fact that we hadn't being trying for a baby doesn't make a difference to the pain I now feel having lost it."

"You've got two children already - just be grateful for what you've got."

“Having experienced an ectopic pregnancy my family have just said that 'it was only a bunch of cells growing in the wrong place' 'I should just be thankful to be alive' but to my husband and I it was our child."

Perhaps, if you feel strong enough, explain to those close to you how you feel and that although you know that they would never intentionally hurt you - comments like that do. They may be grateful for your guidance regarding doing what is best for you.

For example:

"The best person I've spoken to is a friend of mine, she visited a few days after I was discharged from hospital and simply gave Mark and me a hug and said how sorry she was, no wise words, no attempts at reassurance for the future just that she was so sad that we had lost our baby. She hasn't forgotten either; she still calls and is there for me."

When a couple experience pregnancy loss they are sometimes able to support one another and don't look out with their relationship for help. One couple that suffered pregnancy loss said:

"We lost our baby together and somehow we have managed to help each other grieve and are slowly becoming strong again. The fact that we are getting through this, to me, shows that we could get through anything."

You and your partner may see things in totally different ways. You may handle your grief very differently and at the very time you need each other the most you sometimes find yourself arguing and resenting each other as one woman described

"I just want him to cry with me and mourn our baby. I want him to be sad like me - what's wrong with him? Obviously he doesn't care."

Partners can also feel left out and ignored – it is easy to forget that they are suffering too. They may not have the chance to deal with their own feelings, because they feel that they need to be strong for you.

Some quotes from partners when pregnancy loss has occurred
"For the first time since I was a little boy I cried when she was in theatre. Now I have to be strong for her - God knows what I can do to make it better but I'll do anything not to make it worse."

"I found the second miscarriage more difficult than the first. With the first loss I guess I was naive and didn't realise the impact it would have on Christine and so we took each day as it came. But with the second – one and half years later - I knew the pain we had ahead of us and it scared me."

It may help to find extra support from family, friends or support organisations, this may relieve some of the tension that can build up when you only have one another for support

Sexual relationships
Your sexual relationship with your partner may be different for a while. Some people find comfort in making love, whilst to others it's a reminder of their pregnancy. It is very common for both partners to feel entirely opposite to one another.

Even when you and your partner share the same feelings sexual relationships can still be difficult, as grieving and being upset can have an effect on sex.

If you require help with this please see the support number for Relate by clicking on the link or further down the page.

When to try again
For some it feels like the biggest urge in the world to become pregnant as soon as possible and waiting for the length of time advised by your doctor can feel like a lifetime away. Others can't begin to imagine when, or even if, they will be ready to try to conceive again.

“My wife had emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, I love her so much and I almost lost her – how can I risk that again?”

“I feel like I'm going to burst. I have all this love to give to my child yet I don't have one to cradle in my arms. I need to try again – I can’t try again.”

If you have had investigations carried out regarding the cause of your pregnancy loss then it is wise to wait on the results of these investigations before trying to conceive. Opinions vary as to when is the best time to try again though a study of women who had miscarried found that “women had the best outcomes in a subsequent pregnancy if they conceived again within 6 months.”*

It is agreed however, that it is important that prospective parents feel emotionally and physically prepared before trying again. If you are concerned about trying to conceive then you should see your doctor or midwife for advice.

*Love ER et al Effect of interpregnancy interval on outcomes of pregnancy after miscarriage: retrospective analysis of hospital episode statistics in Scotland. BMJ 2010: 341; 3967

Many people who lose their baby/babies in pregnancy say that they never entirely forget or get over that loss.

Some people find comfort in doing something in remembrance of their baby. The following are the services offered to you by our hospitals. We realise that these acts of remembrance will not be suitable for all as everyone will deal with their pregnancy loss in their own way.

Certificate of Pregnancy Loss
Although there is no legal certificate following a pregnancy loss before 24 weeks, we provide a certificate for parents that acknowledge what has happened. For many parents this is an important memento.

If you would like this certificate please ask a member of staff when next at the hospital or telephone your Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit. They will be happy to organise this for you. 

Hospital Book of Remembrance
There is a Book of Remembrance within your local hospital to remember those babies lost in pregnancy or shortly after birth.

Should you wish to have you and your baby's/babies' names entered into this book please return an enclosed 'Book of Remembrance' form which you can get from staff in the early pregnancy unit and a member of staff will include your baby/babies in the book and send you out a copy of the entry made.

Many people find it beneficial to attend a service in remembrance of their baby. These services are for everyone and you would be welcome there.

Your hospital provides this service once a year. Please see below for the relevant information in relation to your local hospital.

Royal Alexandra Hospital
Service of Remembrance takes place on the first Sunday of every October at 7pm in the hospital chapel of the main building.

Inverclyde Royal Hospital
Service of Remembrance takes place annually in Greenock Crematorium. Please see local press or contact the hospital directly to confirm date and time.

Vale of Leven Hospital
Service of Remembrance takes place every November in the hospital chapel. Please see local press or contact the hospital directly to confirm date and time.

Queen Elizabeth University Hospital & Princess Royal Maternity Hospital
An annual event is held in Glasgow Cathedral. For more information, dates and times look on the Saying Goodbye website.

This is a registered Scottish charity established to provide grieving parents with a way of remembering their baby. Simba has provided memory boxes to your local hospital that can be used to store any mementos that you may wish to keep. Please contact your local Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit for more information. SiMBA also offer the opportunity to have an engraved metal leaf placed on a “Tree of Tranquillity.” SiMBA have worked closely with the staff of Glasgow City Council finding a suitable, accessible location for the tree Tree of Tranquillity which is in the grounds of Provan Hall House & Gardens, Auchinlea Park, 80 Auchinlea Road, Glasgow G34 9NJ. SiMBA also run local support groups and information regarding these can be found on their website.

Religious support
In times of sorrow many people will seek comfort and gain strength from their religious beliefs.

If you feel that you would benefit from religious support at this time please do not be afraid to ask for a meeting with someone from your own religion or a representative from within the hospital.

Find support
If you feel that you are struggling to cope with your feelings whether this is immediately after your loss or months or years later, please find support.

You may feel like you would benefit from talking to someone – you could try your partner, a family member or close friend. If you would rather talk to someone a little less close to you then you could speak to your GP.

National support organisations
You may also find the following national support organisations useful:

The Miscarriage Association
The Miscarriage Association offers information and support for those that have been affected by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy. They can provide leaflets, online, phone and email helplines and support networks. Tel: 01924 200 799

SCIM (Scottish Care & Information on Miscarriage)
SCIM is a miscarriage support website providing support, information and counselling for women and couples in Scotland who have suffered miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss. Tel: 0141 552 5070

The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust
The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust provides support for people who have experienced an early pregnancy complication. They offer leaflets, phone helpline and website information. Tel: 020 7733 2653

Tommy's - The Baby Charity
Tommy’s fund research into pregnancy problems and provides information to parents. They offer a website and telephone information service, staffed by midwives to help with any questions that you may have following your early pregnancy loss.
Tel: 0800 0147 800

Relate offers counselling, support and information for all relationships through online guides, phone, email and “live chat” counselling. Tel: 0300 100 1234

The Samaritans
The Samaritans support anyone in distress around the clock through 201 branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland. You may phone, email, visit a branch or write for support Tel: 08457 90 90 90 (24 hours a day).

E.P.A.S. Contact Details:

Princess Royal Maternity
Phone Number: 0141 211 5317
8:30am – 4:30pm Sunday – Friday
(Closed on Saturday)

Queen Elizabeth University Hospital
Phone Number: 0141 201 2331
8:00am – 4:00pm Monday - Friday
8:30am – 4:30pm Saturday
(Closed on Sunday)

Royal Alexandra Hospital
Phone Number: 0141 314 6953
9:00am – 5:00pm

Vale of Leven
Phone Number: 01389 817 232
9:00am – 5:00pm

Inverclyde Royal Hospital
Phone Number: 01475 504 619
8:00am – 8.00pm

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Last Updated: 22 February 2019