Statistics show that 10%-15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. But the “normalcy” belies how traumatic it often is for the person or the couple who have lost a baby.
In my clinical experience (and I have been publishing in this area since the early 1990s), a woman is much more likely than a man to feel that a miscarriage is some kind of failure on her part, as if miscarrying means she is not a real woman — as if a real woman should be able to give birth and whenever she wants.
Tragically, even though miscarriage is common, women more than men tend to think it might be because of some fault of theirs, or even some sin. As a psychologist, I’ve never yet met a man who interpreted miscarriage as evidence of cosmic retribution.
But I’ve often heard women who miscarried say that it was payback for a variety of shameful behaviors — such as not being careful enough of the fetus, dancing too much, drinking too much, having had premarital sex , having had envy toward other pregnant women, or having had a prior abortion.
If you have miscarried and are having irrational feelings of guilt and shame, you need to fight these feelings with all your strength. Here are a few things you can do:
• Journal about any guilty feelings you are having about miscarriage. Keep a record of what you are thinking, so you can systematically dismantle your negative thoughts.
• Thanks to the wonder of YouTube, you can access a wide range of tapes that offer meditations on self-forgiveness. These are invaluable, and they are free.
• Pay attention to the ways friends and family are responding to your emotional pain over the miscarriage. Spend more time with people who are loving and supportive. Try to avoid spending time with people who minimize your loss or say things that make you more upset.
• Access an online support group. Find one you like, and go to it regularly. Some of the more popular ones are the Facebook groups miscarriageformen.com, compassionatefriends.org, and glowinthewoods.com.
The people who will be the most helpful are those who don’t assail you with ridiculous and hurtful platitudes about your loss. They will understand, soothe, and ultimately help you heal.
Copyright Aline P. Zoldbrod, Ph.D.
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