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Pregnancy loss is a harsh reality faced by many expecting couples. If you have lost your baby, you know how devastating and painful this loss can be. You might wonder if you'll ever have a baby to hold and call your own. But surviving the emotional impact of pregnancy loss is possible. And many women go on to have successful pregnancies.
As many as 10 to 15 percent of confirmed pregnancies are lost. The true percentage of pregnancy losses might even be higher as many take place before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. Most losses occur very early on — before eight weeks. Pregnancy that ends before 20 weeks is called miscarriage. Miscarriage usually happens because of genetic problems in the fetus. Sometimes, problems with the uterus or cervix might play a role in miscarriage. Health problems, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, might also be a factor.
After 20 weeks, losing a pregnancy is called stillbirth. Stillbirth is much less common. Some reasons stillbirth occur include problems with placenta, genetic problems in the fetus, poor fetal growth, and infections. Almost half of the time, the reason for stillbirth is not known.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). It's toll free and available 24 hours a day, every day. Or call 911 or go to the emergency room — suicidal thoughts are an emergency.
After the loss, you might be stunned or shocked. You might be asking, "Why me?" You might feel guilty that you did or didn't do something to cause your pregnancy to end. You might feel cheated and angry. Or you might feel extremely sad as you come to terms with the baby that will never be. These emotions are all normal reactions to loss. With time, you will be able to accept the loss and move on. You will never forget your baby. But you will be able to put this chapter behind you and look forward to life ahead. To help get you through this difficult time, try some of these ideas:
- Turn to loved ones and friends for support. Share your feelings and ask for help when you need it.
- Talk to your partner about your loss. Keep in mind that men and women cope with loss in different ways.
- Take care of yourself. Eating healthy foods, keeping active, and getting enough sleep will help restore energy and well-being.
- Join a support group. A support group might help you to feel less alone.
- Do something in remembrance of your baby.
- Seek help from a grief counselor, especially if your grief doesn't ease with time.
Give yourself plenty of time to heal emotionally. It could take a few months or even a year. Once you and your partner are emotionally ready to try again, confirm with your doctor that you are in good physical health and that your body is ready for pregnancy. Following a miscarriage, most healthy women do not need to wait before trying to conceive again. You might worry that pregnancy loss could happen again. But take heart in knowing that most women who have gone through pregnancy loss go on to have healthy babies.
Explore other publications and websites
Coping With Pregnancy Loss (Copyright © Mayo Foundation) — Pregnancy loss can be a very difficult situation to handle. This publication discusses pregnancy loss and ways in which women and the people in their lives can grieve, but move forward with the future.
Loss and grief: Most common questions (Copyright © March of Dimes) — Many women may have mixed thoughts after the loss of a baby. They might not want children or they may be ready to try pregnancy again. This publication discusses the emotional and physical factors of pregnancy loss and what women can do if they want to give pregnancy another try.
Miscarriage (Copyright © Mayo Foundation) — This publication explains the details of miscarriage, including the symptoms, causes, and risk factors.
Remembering Your Baby (Copyright © March of Dimes) — After the loss of a baby, many parents may want to have memories of their baby. This publication discusses ways in which parents can celebrate the lives of their lost children.
Connect with other organizations
American Academy of Family Physicians
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Center for Research on Reproduction and Women's Health, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center
International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination
March of Dimes
National Sudden and Unexpected Infant/Child Death & Pregnancy Loss Resource Center
Public Information and Communications Branch, NICHD, NIH, HHS
Content last updated September 27, 2010.
Resources last updated September 27, 2010.
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