Miscarriages can be emotionally and physically traumatic, and the prospect of getting pregnant after a loss can be fearful for many women. Even women who desperately want more children may hesitate because of the fear of further losses.
Because it is a hushed subject in many social circles, women may feel that having had a miscarriage, they are somehow abnormal and have a faulty body, making the fear of more miscarriages even stronger. In truth, 10-20% (the numbers vary) of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. 1 The numbers could be much higher, given that what many women would consider just really bad “period” could be an early miscarriage. What these number do tell us, though, is that while miscarriage is a painful loss, it is also an aspect of womanhood that is not unusual.
Of course, statistics can’t speak for individuals. Some women may have 10 children and never a miscarriage, while others may suffer 3 miscarriages before finally having a living baby to hold in their arms. Certain risk factors may account for these differences, but sometimes it’s simply inexplicable why one woman miscarries and another doesn’t.
For many women, though, the fear can be disproportionate to the actual risk. If you have had one miscarriage, your risk of miscarrying again is the same as a woman who has never had a loss.2 It is not until a woman has had two or more miscarriages that the losses themselves represent a risk of future miscarriage.
Once a woman is open to pregnancy after a loss, and successfully conceived, she may spend several months (or the whole pregnancy) in nail-chewing anxiety. Even though the odds are low that you will miscarry again, you still may have perfectly reasonable fears about the safety and health of your new baby. You may also find that pregnancy brings to light more grief over the baby you lost, especially if your new pregnancy or the birth of your baby overlaps with dates that are significant to the miscarriage. Such feelings are normal, but if they are causing undue strain or severe anxiety, you should be sure to let your care provider know. They may be able to see you on a more frequent basis, or have you drop in to hear your baby’s heartbeat when you are feeling particularly anxious. Some women may go as far as to rent or purchase their own Doppler (fetal heart monitor) in order to be reassured by the baby’s healthy heartbeat whenever the start to experience these fears.3
The fear of another miscarriage is normal and natural. The best way to cope with that fear is to arm yourself with knowledge, take action when you can, and choose to let life continue in spite of it. When it comes to pregnancy after miscarriage, there is a great deal of hope for most of us.
1Miscarriage, staff, Mayo Clinic
2Miscarriage: Risk factors, staff Mayo Clinic
3Listening for Baby’s Heart Beat, staff, PregnancyInfo.net