It’s birth – not a period
Too often miscarriages, especially early ones, are dismissed as heavy periods. Healthcare providers use this terminology and mothers believe them. This leaves the mother vastly unprepared for what she is about to experience. The pains are contractions, not cramps. You will “pass” your baby (aka give birth) with all the rest of the uterine tissue, placenta, and fetal sack. The bleeding could last for days after the miscarriage happens. Be gentle with yourself during this time. Treat yourself as if you are newly postpartum. Your hormones and body are going to respond as if you just had a baby.
Miscarriage kit to catch baby
If you find yourself being sent home to manage your own miscarriage symptoms, you might not be aware that you are going to give birth to your baby, even if it is tiny. So many mothers are unprepared and do not know what to do and they end up flushing their baby down the toilet. While there should not be any shame or guilt if this is what a mother chose or the only option she knew of, there is another option. A miscarriage kit is a good option. Alternatly, a kitchen collendar can be placed in the toilet each time you use it to catch any tissue that passes. You can then use water to rinse the contents and find the fetus for burying or cremating. Have a small box or container to place the body into until you can make final arrangements.
Funeral homes offer free services
Speaking of burying to cremating, many funeral homes will offer their services for free if you share your situation with them. There may still be other fees such as burial services, but having any part of these services gifted to you can help to ease the financial strain many families feels. We were met with so much love and empathy when we met with the funeral home. It became part of our healing journey to feel like our preborn baby was being treated as human.
You might qualify for maternity leave
Since you didn’t just have a heavy period and you actually gave birth, you might qualify for a full FMLA maternity leave. You might have to speak with your doctor about the codes they use in your medical chart and work with them to get the proper paper work filled out, but you were pregnant and now you are not and your body will be owed some recovery time. There is no need to ask if your employer covers leave for miscarriage. Don’t give them the change to dismiss what you went through. You gave birth. File for parental leave. At very least you and any family members should qualify for bereavment leave. Your baby died. It’s ok to use the language that expresses the gravity of your situation.
Your milk might come in
When your baby dies in pregnancy and you give birth, all your body knows is that you gave birth. Your hormones continue to function as they would in a normal postpartum situation. This means your milk might come in, especially if this was not your first pregnancy and you have lactated before or if you were into the second trimester of pregnancy. It can be a cruel and painful reminder of what you just lost. There are ways to suppress your milk supply such as peppermint tea, cabbage leaves in your bra, a supportivly snug bra, and taking OTC decongestants. Be sure to consult your trusted healthcare provider before taking any medication. Pumping or expressing milk can cause your supply to increase so be cautious if you decided to pump for comfort’s sake. Some mothers decide to pump and donate the milk to babies in need as a way to honor their own baby. I had some milk made into a necklace pendant to always have a reminder of what I went through.
You could still have a PPMD
As I said, your hormones will plummet after your miscarriage just like they do in any postpartum period. Add to that a lack of support, misunderstanding of what is truly happening in your body, inadequate recovery time (because, after all, they told you it was just like a period), and you can be at serious risk for a Postpartum Mood Disorder (PPMD) such as postpartum depression (PPD) or postpartum anxiety (PPA). Many times these disorders are dismissed as normal grief and are left untreated causing the mother to feel lost, broken, and so alone. Finding a terapist who specializes in PPMD and postpartum grief can be a huge help in healing and processing the emotions of what you have just been through.
There is a whole community out here
You might feel very alone, like you are the only person who knows the pain you are going through right now, but I promise you, you are not. I lost my middle son in 2020 at nineteen weeks pregnant and as alone as I felt in that pain, I found an entire online community of moms alone in their pain and grief too. I searched hashtags on Instagram and connected with others as a way to show myself that life does go on and can be beautiful despite the pain. Their journeys became my survival guide. When you are ready, I encourage you to seek out other’s who have been where you are. While they can’t take away your pain or bring your baby back, they can make you feel less alone.