Written by Psychologist, Nikolina Miljus
You may not realize it but the fear of miscarriage haunts every woman to a greater or lesser degree during the early stages of pregnancy. Whether it’s our sixth baby or our first, the thought of that possibility still lingers in the back of our minds.
Because miscarriage is most often due to causes that are unidentifiable and uncontrollable the fear can reach epic proportions. This is especially true for those who’ve experienced previous miscarriages or who have an existing anxiety disorder.
The sad fact is that miscarriage is common, especially in the first trimester. This isn’t said to scare you but simply to help you acknowledge that miscarriage is something that can happen.
It is one possible outcome but it shouldn’t be your primary focus.
While fearing miscarriage makes sense, the fact that the exact cause of miscarriage is normally unknown is the most important thing to keep in mind.
When it does happen there is no one to blame and that includes you. Miscarriage is not yours or anyone else’s fault.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking it is our own fault because somehow it’s easier to deal with when we assign blame. However, in almost all cases, miscarriage is something that happens outside of our control.
There is nothing we can do to prevent it.
The fear of miscarriage in the first trimester is easy to spot.
You can recognize it by:
- Constant worrying about the possibility of miscarriage
- Obsessive thinking about miscarriage
- Feeling anxious and tense – like you are just moments away from something bad happening
- Feeling stressed and jittery
- Frequently checking for any signs of miscarriage
- Spending a lot of time researching the symptoms of miscarriage online
If you feel like you can tick off some of the points on this checklist, read on to find out how you can get things under control and overcome your fear.
How to overcome the fear of miscarriage
1. Accept that some things are out of your hands
If you’ve had prior miscarriage the thought that something you did or did not do caused the miscarriage is a very damaging thought and one you should leave behind.
This kind of thinking creates guilt, self-blame, a sense of failure and plants the seeds of an irrational fear that you might cause a miscarriage in your current pregnancy or ones in the future.
As we’ve already mentioned the medical reasons for miscarriage in many cases are unknown.
Our biology is amazing but it isn’t perfect. Things can and do go wrong in the early stages of fetal development.
It is generally believed that the most common cause for miscarriage in the first trimester is chromosomal malformations.
A miscarriage is a natural, albeit painful way, for your body to handle a fetus who is not able to develop properly.
2. Stop researching online
Technology makes our lives easier in so many ways, but it also has the potential to make our lives a living hell if not used mindfully.
When you look for information on miscarriage online and are already filled with fear and anxiety about what is happening with your body, you are more likely to focus on the negative symptoms and stories.
These negatives only make your fears and worry worse.
Auto suggestion can also make things worse.
Auto suggestion is an unconscious process that can make you start feeling the signs and symptoms you’ve been reading about.
If all you do is read about potential miscarriage symptoms and stories about miscarriage day in and day out it’s to be expected that your perception and thinking become colored negatively.
The most helpful thing you can do in this case is stay away from Google. Find something more productive and positive to do with your time online. Connect with friends. Find an online support group. Learn relaxation or mindfulness.
3. Focus on things you can do
It is worth repeating once again: if you don’t have medical conditions that might contribute to a higher chance of miscarriage and you haven’t endured any traumatic events recently, almost nothing you do in your everyday life will cause you to miscarry.
But prolonged stress, anxiety and fear can impact your overall health.
This is why it’s more beneficial to focus your energy on the things you can do to protect your pregnancy: keep yourself calm and relaxed (we’ll show you how shortly), eat healthily, drink plenty of water and check your thinking to keep your expectations realistic.
Remember that although miscarriage is a possibility, a successful pregnancy is a possibility as well.
In fact it is a much greater possibility.
All the data shows successful pregnancies are overwhelmingly more common than ones that result in miscarriage.
4. Practical ways to calm your fear of miscarriage
When you share your worries and fears around miscarriage the advice you’ll often hear is “try not to worry too much.”
This kind of advice, while meant well, is pretty useless. So below we are focusing on practical ways to calm down your thoughts when worry and anxiety about miscarriage become too much to handle.
- By controlling your breathing you can also minimize the physical side of fear. You don’t need any special meditation techniques to achieve this. Deep rhythmic breathing while counting for ten minutes does the trick.
- Devote your full undivided attention to what is going on around you right now. It might feel a bit awkward initially, but the mindfulness approach to dealing with fear and anxiety works. The main beauty of it is that
even sitting and staring through the window can become a quick mindfulness exercise.
- Unless there is a medical condition preventing you, moderate physical activity is another common tool you can use to take your mind away from worry and fear and use it to connect with your body instead.
- If you’re caught in a vicious cycle of continually checking for miscarriage symptoms, then going online to read about more potential symptoms and scaring yourself further, the only way out is to stop. Instead, call a midwife or your ob-gyn and talk to them about your fears and see if they can schedule an early check-up.
- Re-evaluate your fear by logically examining your worrying thoughts and beliefs. For example, ask yourself if it’s truly possible that you might be responsible for a potential miscarriage when the entire medical community considers genetic reasons to be responsible. Keep in mind that the fear tends to fuel even more worry and fear. Don’t trust all your anxiety-filled beliefs about guilt, failure and disappointment because they are most likely inaccurate.
5. Grieve your past losses
Each miscarriage is a loss that triggers a natural grieving process. You are investing your love, hopes, and vision of the future in your pregnancy and this happens almost immediately after you realize you are pregnant.
Having a miscarriage takes all this away, and the loss triggers the sadness, depression, feelings of guilt, remorse and self-blame, no matter how unfounded those feelings might be in reality.
The grieving process subsides naturally, as you move on with your life, but it can leave a lasting impact on your future pregnancies if you don’t recognize and allow yourself enough time to grieve your loss.
Journal. Talk to a friend or counselor. And most importantly let yourself feel your feelings without judging them harshly. It’s ok to feel sad, angry, confused or worried. You don’t need to do anything except feel them and let them pass in their own time.
6. Share your worries & get help
When you’re trying to cope with the fear of miscarriage alone it can be hard to see a way out of the situation.
It isn’t easy to talk about our fears around miscarriage or show our vulnerability to those close to us.
Your fear can make you believe that other person would think you’re a failure or blame you. In reality, however, your partner, close friends or a family members rarely think along those lines and are instead looking for ways to help you.
Talking about miscarriage and your fears about it with your midwife or an ob-gyn is vital.
Not only can they give you professional information about miscarriage and monitor your pregnancy, but they can also help you realize that you are not alone in all this.
A new and caring perspective, alongside support from the people closest to you can remind you of the positive sides of your pregnancy and ultimately, help you deal with the fear of miscarriage.