Mother’s Prayer Following A Miscarriage/Stillbirth
No Need to Delay Getting Pregnant After Miscarriage, Study Suggests
A new study suggests that becoming pregnant again soon after a miscarriage is no more risky for the mom or the fetus than waiting six months to conceive.
The new research contradicts the current World Health Organization advice on the subject, which suggests that a six-month wait might be beneficial for the baby. However, that advice was a single study.
The new research, a statistical evaluation of data from 10 earlier studies on the topic, finds no additional risks for women who wait less than six months to become pregnant again after a miscarriage, and even finds that some risks may be lower with shorter intervals.
“Women who get pregnant after less than six months between the pregnancy and the loss should not be worried about adverse pregnancy outcomes, and if nothing else actually they should be encouraged,” said Enrique Schisterman, a senior investigator in epidemiology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Schisterman was not involved in the new study, known as a meta-analysis, although he did co-author one of the earlier studies that the new study re-evaluated. [6 Myths About Miscarriage]
Researchers have found that conceiving shortly after a full-term pregnancy can raise the risk of complications, such as premature birth and low birth weight (around 18 and 23 months between pregnancies was least risky, according to a 2006 meta-analysis published in the journal JAMA). But there was very little data on pregnancy spacing after miscarriage, and the study upon which the WHO based its recommendations was based in Latin America and couldn't distinguish between spontaneous losses and abortions.
In the new analysis, researchers led by Sohinee Bhattacharya at the University of Aberdeen combed the literature for studies that compared outcomes for women who conceived either within six months of a miscarriage, or more than six months after.
They found a total of 10 studies in which researchers looked at pregnancies with those timeframes and recorded data on the complications, such as having another miscarriage (defined as a loss of the fetus before 24 weeks gestation), suffering a stillbirth (a loss after 24 weeks gestation), having a premature birth, having a baby born with low birth weight and having preeclampsia, a condition in which a pregnant woman's blood pressure increases to dangerous levels. [9 Conditions Pregnancy May Bring] Pooling the data from the studies and re-evaluating the statistics, the researchers found no evidence that getting pregnant soon after a miscarriage is dangerous. The data on stillbirths and preeclampsia showed no difference in the risk of these conditions regardless of pregnancy spacing.
And some complications appeared less ly with quicker conceptions: The rate of having another miscarriage with a pregnancy spacing of less than six months was only 82 percent of the rate of having another miscarriage with a spacing of more than six months.
The risk of preterm birth was also less for shorter intervals, too, at 79 percent of the rate seen in women with intervals longer than six months.
The researchers also found that for several of the birth complications, the Latin American study that was used as the basis for the WHO recommendations was an outlier.
For example, when that study was included in the analysis, the statistics showed no difference between a spacing of less than six months versus a spacing more than six months in the risk for having a low-birth-weight baby (defined as a term baby weighing less than 5.5 pounds, or 2,500 grams).
But when that one study was excluded, the risk of having a low-birth-weight baby appeared to be lower for more closely spaced pregnancies, at 74 percent the rate of longer-spaced pregnancies.
Try when ready
Undergoing full-term pregnancies back-to-back may diminish a mother's supply of folate, a B vitamin important for the developing nervous system, Schisterman said.
But a pregnancy lost before full-term will ly not diminish a woman's folate supply for future pregnancies, he said.
Meanwhile, waiting longer to conceive, especially for women later in their fertile years, might increase the risk of complications.The lack of information on how far along the pregnancies were when miscarriages occurred is one limitation of the new study, Schisterman said. It may be that early miscarriages do not tax a pregnant woman's reserves, while a later loss may make a short spacing riskier.
“I think we need a little bit more data on the different underlying reasons for a pregnancy loss and see what the optimal interval is,” Schisterman said.
The new research also looked at when women conceived — not when they actually started trying. But couples can only control when they start trying for a baby, Schisterman said, and not the timing of the actual pregnancy.
Some of the seeming beneficial effects of a short pregnancy interval may be because the women who became pregnant again sooner were more fertile, Bhattacharya and her team wrote, and thus both became pregnant with more ease and had fewer complications in those pregnancies. [7 Ways Pregnant Women Affect Babies]
Nevertheless, the study might inform how doctors discuss the risks and benefits of future pregnancies with their patients.
“There is now ample evidence to suggest that delaying a pregnancy following a miscarriage is not beneficial and unless there are specific reasons for delay couples should be advised to try for another pregnancy as soon as they feel ready,” Bhattacharya and her colleagues wrote.
The researchers published their findings Nov. 17 in the journal Human Reproduction Update.
Original article on Live Science.
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Stillbirth and miscarriage: where to get support
When the TV personality, Jack Osbourne, and his wife, Lisa, announced that they experienced a late-term miscarriage earlier this year, they were flooded with messages of sympathy from well wishers.
Singer, Lily Allen, was six months pregnant when she had her second miscarriage and asked her fans to say a 'little prayer' for her loss.
One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Most happen in the first 12 weeks, but a small number of expectant mothers lose babies in the second or even third trimester.
The loss of a foetus is termed a miscarriage if it occurs before 23 weeks. After that time, it is a considered to be the stillbirth of a baby.
But it still remains the case that most people don't talk much about the loss of a pre-term infant.
Opening up about stillbirth and miscarriage
Ruth Bender Atik, national director of the Miscarriage Association, said at the launch of a recent campaign to encourage people to use the charity's helpline: 'Miscarriage affects many thousands of people throughout the UK every year, yet it's rarely spoken about openly.
'We know that talking about it can make a huge difference to the women, men/partners, families and friends affected by miscarriage.'
Susan Harper-Clark, 35, found it hard to hard to talk about her own feelings of grief and loss when she suffered two late miscarriages; one at 19 weeks in 2010 and the second at 22 weeks in 2011.
'It was just too painful at first. That said, my husband Graeme and I wanted people to acknowledge what had happened and I really appreciated their well wishes.'
Preventing miscarriage and stillbirth is one of the primary goals of doctors who look into why babies die in utero.
Professor Siobhan Quenby is a consultant at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS trust.
After years of research, she has discovered that natural killer cells, which are present in ur bodies, are linked with repeated miscarriages.In one of her studies, 160 women who had a history of miscarriages were examined to see if they had high levels of natural killer cells in the lining of their wombs.
Those who were found to have high levels of these cells were randomly given either steroid treatment, which blocks natural killer cells, or a placebo once they became pregnant.
Women who had the steroid treatment were 20 per cent more ly than those on placebo to carry a baby to full-term.
However, Professor Quenby says that more work still needs to be done before steroid treatment can be rolled out on a larger scale.
Tests showed that Susan had what's known as an 'incompetent cervix,' despite being fit and healthy, and being free of risk factors such as smoking or a high BMI.
'After I got over the initial shock, I did find it hard to talk to people about what I had gone through.
'I found it easier to talk to some people than others and I felt that some people were embarrassed about the situation.
'Luckily, my husband is brilliant and I have a very close family. We helped each other get through it.'
Information on where to get support
The Miscarriage Association offers support in a number of ways.
'We are there to offer information. When things go wrong in pregnancy, there is often a great need for information about what is happening and what is ly to happen,' says Ruth.
'There may be questions about the physical process of loss and the options available; about what happens to the remains of a miscarried baby; about further tests or treatments; and especially about whether there is anything that can be done to reduce the risk next time.'
Staff needs to be supported too. Caring for women who've had an miscarriage or stillbirth can be emotionally demanding on health care professionals.
'We support medical staff and have a range of leaflets available, which can also be downloaded from our website. We have telephone support workers and a team of volunteers to offer peer support.
'This is combined with the support offered through our forum and pages.'
Support for future pregnancies
Although they were devastated after two miscarriages, Susan and Graeme were determined to keep trying to have a baby. After doing some online research, Susan contacted the charity, Tommy's, and was referred to the Preterm Surveillance Clinic at St Thomas' Hospital, London.
Under the team's care, she underwent an abdominal stitch, regular fetal fibronectin testing and cervical length tests, and gave birth to her son, Thomas, at 38 weeks in July 2012.
'It's an amazing feeling having little Thomas, but we'll never forget his two sisters, Emilia and Grace, who paved the way for him,' says Susan.
'As soon as he is old enough – he is 14 months old now – we will tell him about them and they will always be part of our family.'
Other people also read:
Miscarriage:The facts on miscarriage.
Stillbirth: The facts on stillbirth.
The Miscarriage Association: The Miscarriage Assocation offers help and support to people struggling with a bereavement.
Last updated 07.10.2013
Lies, Damned Lies, and Miscarriage Statistics
Trying to figure out your chances of miscarrying? Sadly, you are going to have a hard time finding good information.
Many websites claim to tell you your risk of miscarriage, citing statistics that look these:
Commonly reported chances of miscarriage by pregnancy week
But problems abound with their numbers.
Problem 1: These sites rarely provide their sources, so you cannot tell whether their information is reliable.
Problem 2: These sites do not breakdown miscarriage risk by other known risk factors, the mother’s age.
Problem 3: Nearly all these sites derive their statistics from just two small studies, one which tracked 222 women from conception through just the first 6 weeks of pregnancy, and another which tracked 697 pregnancies, but only after a fetal heartbeat had been detected–a key point, because heartbeat detection dramatically lowers the chances of a miscarriage.
The lack of good information frustrated me when I was pregnant, and I bet it frustrates you too. So I have compiled a summary of the best research on risk of miscarriage. Where possible, I break down the risk by…
Edit: I also have a new post on how morning sickness signals a lower risk.
Risk of Miscarriage by Pregnancy Week
Miscarriage risk drops as pregnancy progresses. The risk is highest early in the first trimester. Fortunately, for most women by 14 weeks their chance of a miscarriage is less than 1%.
Miscarriages rates declined between 6 to 10 weeks, according to a study of 697 pregnancies with a confirmed fetal heartbeat:
- 9.4% at 6 weeks
- 4.6% at 7 weeks
- 1.5% at 8 weeks
- 0.5% at 9 weeks
- 0.7% at 10 weeks
A similar study of 668 pregnancies with a confirmed fetal heartbeat between 6 and 10 weeks, found a similar decline in miscarriage risk by week:
- 10.3% at 6 weeks
- 7.9% at 7 weeks
- 7.4% at 8 weeks
- 3.1% at 9 weeks
But for women in their mid to late 30s and early 40s, these studies understate the risk. Even after confirmation of a fetal heartbeat, miscarriage risk remains high for women 40 and older through 12 weeks, according to a study of 384 women 35 and older.
Chance of miscarriage by 12 weeks but after confirmation of a fetal heart rate by the mother’s age.
Despite the higher risk for this age group overall, a normal ultrasound result from 7 weeks remains a promising sign. Women who entered the study in their 4th to 5th week of pregnancy had about a 35% risk of miscarriage. Women who entered the study later, and who therefore had a normal ultrasound and heartbeat at 7-10 weeks, had a risk under 10%.
Miscarriage Risk by Fetal Heart Rate
A fetal heartbeat often indicates a healthy, viable pregnancy. But a fetal heart rate that is too slow can instead signal an impending miscarriage.
The chance of a first trimester miscarriage varies by fetal heart rate, according to a study of 809 pregnancies. The lower the heart rate, the higher the miscarriage risk. (Normal fetal heart rates change with fetal age, so these tables break down the risk by pregnancy week.)
Up to 6 weeks 2 days gestation:
Chance of miscarriage by fetal heart rate up to 6 weeks 2 days of gestation.
Between 6 weeks 3 days and 7 weeks 0 days:
Chance of miscarriage by fetal heart rate at 7 weeks gestation
After 7 weeks, the fetal heart rate was at or above 120 beats per minute for almost all ongoing pregnancies.
Miscarriage Risk by Week Before Confirmation of a Heartbeat
Many women will not have an ultrasound and fetal heartbeat confirmation until sometime between 8-10 weeks. What are their chances of a miscarriage before that crucial piece of news?
In a large prospective study of 4,887 women trying to conceive, 4070 became pregnant. Their rate of miscarriage was 4-5% in week 6. By week 7, this risk fell to 2.5%. Rates hovered around 2% per week until week 13, when chances of a miscarriage dipped below 1%
Personal Risk Factors
Your personal characteristics and behaviors alter your miscarriage risk. The most important risk factor, as is well known, is the woman’s age: Miscarriage rates climb as women age, especially after the late 30s. The man’s age matters too, especially after they turn 40.
Risk of Miscarriage by the Woman’s Age
Anne-Marie Nybo Anderson, of the Danish Epidemiology Science Centre led the largest population-based study ever conducted on age and miscarriage. Anderson tracked every “reproductive outcome”– every pregnancy, miscarriage, birth, stillbirth, or abortion–in Denmark between the years of 1978 and 1992–ultimately tracking outcomes of over a million pregnancies.
What did she find? Miscarriage risk rises sharply during a woman’s late 30s and reached nearly 100% by age 45.
Risk of pregnancy loss by the mother’s age at conception.
Rates of ectopic pregnancy also rose with age:
Risk of ectopic pregnancy by the mother’s age
As did the chances of a stillbirth:
Risk of stillbirth by the mother’s age at conception
(In Anderson’s study, stillbirth was defined as a loss after 28 weeks. In the U.S., any loss after 20 weeks is usually considered a stillbirth)
Take heart though: as scary as the rise in stillbirths sounds, the risk remains under 1% through age 45.
Anderson’s study’s findings parallel those of another large and well-studied sample: U.S. pregnancies conceived via IVF.
Data from the Centers from Disease Control’s report on all 2010 IVF cycles.
Just as in Anderson’s study of Danish pregnancies, the uptick in miscarriage risk among IVF pregnancies begins at age 38.
Intriguingly, the overall miscarriage rates among IVF pregnancies is lower than in the Denmark sample. This is probably due to selection effects. Only some women manage to become pregnant through IVF, and embryos transferred during IVF are chosen early signs of normal development. Passing through these early hurdles ly ups the odds of a successful pregnancy.
Risk of Miscarriage by the Man’s Age
Researchers often ignore the man’s age when studying miscarriage. Most women marry men who are about the same age, so researchers have trouble teasing apart the effects of the woman’s age from the man’s age.
Fortunately, several studies have now included couples in which either the woman or the man is much older than their partner.These studies provide a clear and consistent picture: older prospective fathers raise the risk of miscarriage by about 25-50%. One study found an a 60% increase in the odds of a miscarriage if the father was over 40. Another reported a roughly 25% increase in the risk of miscarriage for fathers over the age of 35.
Other studies report similar effects; all showing most marked rise after age 40 (see here and here).
Risk by the Couple’s Combined Age
A young partner can offset some of your personal age-based miscarriage risk, especially if you are a man. Men whose partners are young, under 30, have relatively low chances of miscarriage regardless of their own age, according to large retrospective European study.
For women, alas, young partner only partially offset their age-based risk. Women over 35 with relatively young partners, under age 40, still face double to triple the odds of women in their 20s.
Older partners do, however, compound the risk for women in their 30s. A woman in her early 30s with a partner over 40 has roughly triple the odds of a woman with a partner the same age or younger.
Risk of Miscarriage After Confirmation of a Fetal Heartbeat for Older Women
On a more positive note, women in their late 30s and early 40s have a good chance of an ongoing pregnancy after confirmation of fetal heartbeat.
For women over 40, once a heartbeat has been detected at 7-10 weeks, the risk of a miscarriage falls to around 10%. After 20 weeks, the risk plummets to less than 1%.
Chance of miscarriage by 12 weeks but after confirmation of a fetal heart rate by the mother’s age.
How Does a Prior Miscarriage Affect Your Risk of Miscarriage?
Aside from age, the best predictor of whether a woman will miscarry is the number miscarriages she has already suffered. Most websites quote these statistics:
From these statistics, one prior miscarriage seems inconsequential; while just two prior miscarriages appears to dramatically raise your chances of another miscarriage.
Fortunately, these statistics are too dire for women who have had two prior miscarriages. The outcomes from a study over a million pregnancies paints a much more reassuring picture, at least for women who have had fewer than 3 prior miscarriages
Here’s the risk of a subsequent miscarriage for women who have never given birth before:
And for women who have given birth before:
The Bottom Line
In early pregnancy, miscarriage risk falls with each passing week, with significant drops around the 7-week mark, and again after the 12-week mark.
Your age, your partner’s age, and your number of prior miscarriages all affect your overall risk of miscarriage. Miscarriage risk rises dramatically after about age 37 for women, and age 40 for men.
Ammon Avalos, L., Galindo, C. and Li, D.-K. (2012), A systematic review to calculate background miscarriage rates using life table analysis. Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 94: 417–423. doi: 10.1002/bdra.23014
By Ruhaifa Adil
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Losing a baby is one of the hardest things any parent can go through. Even if the pregnancy lasted for only a few weeks, the grief a mother feels is incomparable. A mother does not love her baby only at first sight; she loves her baby even before she has seen it!
Here are some important guidelines for the Muslim mother who has had a miscarriage (losing a baby before 24 weeks of gestation) or a stillbirth (losing a baby after 24 weeks of gestation).
Accept Allah’s decision
A Muslim mother is un other mothers. Despite her grief, she accepts Allah’s decision and believes that He knows what is best. Though it may be prudent to find out if there was a medical condition for the miscarriage, do not forget that the ultimate reason for anything that happens is Qadar (predestination).
Remind yourself that Allah is All-Knowing and He knows what is best for us. Allah gives us tests in this life, granting us an opportunity to become His beloved servants. Allah has said: “And surely We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops but give glad tidings to the steadfast.
Say Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon (To Allah we belong and to Him we will return)
The above verse is followed by this verse which says: “Who, when disaster strikes them, say: Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.” (2:156-157)
The Messenger of Allah (sa) also said: “When the child of a person dies, Allah says to His angels: ‘You have taken the soul of the child of My slave?’ They say: ‘Yes.
’ He says: ‘You have taken the apple of his eye?’ They say: ‘Yes.’ He says: ‘What did My slave say?’ They say: ‘He praised You and said: Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon.
’ And Allah says: ‘Build for My slave a house in Paradise, and call it the house of praise.’” (Tirmidhi; reliable)
Dealing with feelings of grief
Though accepting Allah’s decision may bring you solace, your pain and grief may still feel unbearable! It is at this time that you need to console and remind yourself that your child is in Jannah (paradise) waiting for you.
Call out to Allah and supplicate to Him to ease your pain, for though you loved this child very much, remember that Allah loves you seventy times as much! Make dhikr and du’a for it will bring you comfort.
Reach out to your husband, family, and friends, and try not to isolate yourself.
Dealing with feelings of guilt
Sometimes it is hard to accept what has happened, and mothers tend to fall into a vicious thought process of what they may have done wrong to have lost the baby. At this time, remind yourself that if Allah means for something to happen, it will. Seek peace in knowing that Allah intends something better for you.
Know that Allah’s plans are grander than what the human mind can encompass, as seen in the story of Khidr in Surah Kahf. Remember this verse whenever you feel guilt creeping in: “No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things.
The reward for Sabr (patience)
“And Allah loves the steadfast (the sabireen – the patient ones).” (3:146)
As you go through this ordeal, remember Allah’s reward as promised by Him: “I have no reward except Jannah for a believing slave of Mine who shows patience and anticipates My reward when I take away his favourite one from the inhabitants of the world.” (Bukhari)
The Prophet (sa) also said: “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, the miscarried foetus will drag his mother by his umbilical cord to Paradise, if she (was patient and) sought reward (for her loss).” (Ibn Majah: sound)
“…Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.” (39:10)
Reunion in the Hereafter
Remember: you will be reunited with your child in the Hereafter where this child will become a source of taking you to Paradise! Rejoice in the fact that this is a very temporary separation and you will soon see your beloved baby, who is in a place far better waiting to lead you to Jannah.
Rites of the baby
A mother provides everything for her child even if it is at the expense of her own needs.
Even though your grief is immense, you need to place your baby above it and make sure you fulfill his final rites.Scholars agree that if you miscarried your baby before four months of pregnancy, then no ‘aqeeqah needs to be done, nor does the child need to be named. Funeral prayer is also not incumbent before burial.
However if you have lost your baby after four months of gestation, then the soul has been breathed into him, hence he should be named, shrouded, and the funeral prayer offered. The baby should be buried with the Muslims, and the ‘aqeeqah should be done for him. (Reference: islamqa.info)
Rulings on post natal bleeding
As hard as this loss may be, again it is essential for the Muslimah to not forget her deen (religion).
You must continue to pray and fast if you miscarry your baby before the baby has developed human features such as a head, hand, foot, and so on.
However if the baby has human features then you are under nifas (post natal bleeding) and should not pray nor fast or have intercourse with your husband until you become pure or until forty days have passed.
Scholars have said that the minimum time in which human features may appear is 81 days. The 81 days refers to the actual pregnancy and not from your last menstrual cycle (which is used to date the pregnancy). (Reference: islamqa.info)
Take heart from the examples of the Salaf and Prophet Muhammad (sa)
When Ibn Umar’s child was sick, he was very distraught, yet he was smiling at the time of the funeral. When asked why, he replied: “This [death] was nothing short of mercy for him and when it was decreed by Allah Most High I was pleased with it.”
Umar Ibn Abd al-Aziz told his dying son: “I prefer for you to be in my balance of good deeds (through my sabr for your loss) than for me to be in your balance of good deeds.”
The only time Fudayl ibn Iyad was ever seen smiling was after the death of his child and his reply to those around him was: “Allah loved something and I love what Allah loved.”(Source: Ibn Nasir al-Din al-Dimashqi, Bardu al-Akbad an Faqd al-Awlad (“The Solace of Livers from the Loss of Children”).
Even the Prophet’s son Ibrahim passed away in infancy, and though he wept at his death, he said: “The eye weeps and the heart grieves, but we say only what our Lord is pleased with. We are grieved for you, Ibrahim.” (Abu Dawood; sound)
Anxiety for the next pregnancy
It is natural to feel anxious about future pregnancies ending in miscarriage too. Most women who have a miscarriage, however, go on to have a successful pregnancy the next time round.
Do not despair and remember the story of Zakariya (as) who had a child in old age when he supplicated to his Lord: “…O my Lord! Grant me from You, a good offspring. You are indeed the All-Hearer of invocation.
” (3:38) Supplicate to Allah; He is certainly the All-Hearer.
Ruhaifa Adil is a mother of four, a practising Muslimah, an avid reader, and a passionate writer. She works primarily as a trainer for mothers and teachers, advocating a multi sensorial, learner-centred approach, which she has learnt through her work as a remedial specialist for children with dyslexia.
She is also an author of English textbooks, the teachings of the Quran (currently under editing), and creative director of a Tafseer app for kids (soon to be launched Insha’Allah). Her latest project is Qutor.com, a website that helps connect Quran teachers and students.
© IIPH 2015
Photo credit: viralbus / Foter.com / CC BY-SA
About the author
Ruhaifa Adil is a mother of four, a practising Muslimah, an avid reader, and a passionate writer.
She works primarily as a trainer for mothers and teachers, advocating a multi sensorial, learner-centred approach, which she has learnt through her work as a remedial specialist for children with dyslexia.
She is also an author of English textbooks, the teachings of the Quran (currently under editing), and creative director of a Tafseer app for kids (soon to be launched Insha’Allah).
Finding Healing After Miscarriage
February 22, 2016
A friend of mine just told me that she recently had a miscarriage, and she asked a few questions about my experience after I miscarried a baby four years ago.
Her questions got me thinking about what my family and I went through at that time and the resources that helped us through it.
I wanted to share these ideas in case they might help any readers who are grieving a miscarriage.
Four years ago my husband and I went to an ultrasound appointment and we found out that our 12-week-old baby’s heart was no longer beating. We were shocked, especially because up until that point in the pregnancy I had had nausea, which I had assumed was a good sign of the baby’s health.
We drove home with such deep sadness in our hearts, not knowing what to think or how to react to this news.
We had a wonderful doctor who was very sensitive and kind, and she had explained that medically-speaking, between 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and that doctors normally cannot pinpoint what causes one to occur, but emotionally I was at such a loss as to how to deal with the pain I felt.
The few months that followed were a rollercoaster of emotions, but looking back on that time I see that God gave us some very special blessings and resources that helped us to get through our loss and to gain many spiritual fruits from it.So often, miscarriage is a cross that people bear privately, which is understandable, but that fact can also be detrimental in the sense that if someone experiences a miscarriage for the first time, they may not know what to think or expect because no one has ever talked to them about the experience before.
With the hope of helping anyone who is grieving a miscarried baby, whether the baby passed away recently or years ago, here are five things that helped my family and me, and that I hope will help to bring consolation and healing to others:
Grieve the loss
This may seem obvious, but often doctors and nurses do not treat a miscarriage as the loss of a baby, so people may attempt to stifle the emotions they feel because “it happens to a lot of people,” or “it’s just tissue.
” Well, miscarriage does happen often, but it is a real loss, and when a miscarriage occurs it is a human life that has been cut short, so, if you or someone you know has experienced a miscarriage, please recognize it for the loss that it is.
Without this recognition, the loss cannot be grieved, and additional problems can arise.
After my miscarriage, I was trying to pretend everything was fine for our 2 ½-year-old son because I didn’t want to upset him. Well, he suddenly started acting out, a lot, and waking up every night for no apparent reason.
A priest friend of ours suggested that we talk to our son about the baby and what had happened, and when we did that he took it so well. He really understood, and he was sad, but he was also happy that his baby sister was in heaven.
Sometimes I think children grieve better than adults because they don’t stifle their emotions, they have purer hearts, and stronger faith. I learned a lot from our son about how to view the situation with eyes of faith.
Talk to someone
It can be very helpful to talk with a friend, especially someone who has experienced a miscarriage, but if you don’t know someone who has, there are other options. There are support groups available, and you can go here to find a group in your area (this website also has a 24/7 grief support counselor on call).
You may also want to consider seeing a counselor if you are having a difficult time coping. I did all three of these things and the combination helped immensely.
As a counselor, I know the therapeutic value of friendship, support groups and individual therapy, but when I was grieving the death of our baby I learned about their therapeutic value first-hand.
Have a burial service if possible
The Archdiocese where we were living at the time had a burial service once a month for anyone who had recently lost a baby in miscarriage or stillbirth. The priest at the service gave a beautiful homily and I still treasure many of the things he said, but one comment in particular stood out to me.
Looking around at all of the parents and family members present he said, “One day you will look back on your life and the life of your family and you will see that you were blessed in ways that would not have been possible had it not been for your baby interceding for you in heaven.” This was very consoling to us, to think that our child was praying for us, and there is theological support for it as well.
(For further reading, see The Hope of Salvation for Infants who Die Without Being Baptized, which was prepared by the International Theological Commission, and was approved by Pope Benedict in 2005.)
Name your baby
There is a beautiful part in the book Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo where little Colton explains to his mother, who has never told him that she miscarried a baby before he was born, that he met his big sister in heaven and that she was so happy to see him that she couldn’t stop hugging him. He then tells his mother, emphatically, “you need to name her Mommy, she doesn’t have a name!”
When I tell people that we named our baby Bridget, they ask if we had found out the sex of the baby. While we had not found out through an ultrasound, we know in our hearts that the baby was a girl. When you name your baby it is easier to ask for their intercession, which leads me to the next suggestion.
Ask your child to intercede
Ask your child to intercede for you and your family, often, and especially in times of greatest need. This is something I try to do on a daily basis, and it has been a powerful aid in my life.
A good priest encouraged me to do this one day, when I had a particularly difficult issue to work out, and the problem resolved itself very quickly.
Ever since then, I have not failed to ask our little Bridget to pray for me when I face a challenging situation.As you grieve the loss of your baby, turn to God and ask for his help. Grieving takes time, and in some way, it never really “ends.
” There will be sadness about the loss well after the miscarriage has occurred, because when a baby passes away before birth you not only experience the loss of a beautiful infant, you experience the loss of a member of your family, of a child and a sibling who is no longer here on earth, and you will grieve the loss of the whole potential life that child would have led, so in a way, you will experience the loss for the rest of your life. That being said, with time, you will be able to find joy in the thought of your child, and in the hope of meeting your son or daughter in heaven one day, where:
“Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard . . . what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1Cor. 2:9)