Miscarriage is a unique form of loss. Families may mourn the absence of a baby that they didn’t have the chance to get to know.
The emotions you may experience after a miscarriage can be very overwhelming. Please know that you are not alone and support services are available.
If you are in a crisis situation, please call Lifeline (13 11 14), Beyond Blue (1300 224 636), or 000 immediately. If you are unsure, you can learn about the signs for when you should seek mental health care.
Before the loss, parents often begin to contemplate the changes and responsibilities that lie ahead in caring for a new baby. Many parents start to invest their hopes and expectations in the pregnancy, which often begins well before conception. The space created by miscarriage and the limited number of specific memories can make mourning the loss challenging and confusing. The baby is also not held in the minds and memories of family and friends the same way as a living baby. Family and friends may not even have known about the pregnancy.
The intensity of complex feelings, especially sadness and grief following a miscarriage, is not related to how far along someone was in their pregnancy. Instead, the meaning of this pregnancy to a family or individual, at this point, deserves consideration. People must grieve the loss of their pregnancy and the loss of the future they imagined for themselves and their families.
People have a range of psychological reactions to miscarriage. This section can help you navigate the intricate feelings and thoughts following a miscarriage. Your feelings are understandable and have meaning.
We encourage you to embrace and be curious about your feelings rather than critical or judgemental. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Not everyone who experiences miscarriage will feel sad; some may feel relieved or confused. Most likely, you will have many different feelings simultaneously, and your emotions are likely to change over time.
There is also no time limit upon grief. You may continue to experience feelings of grief and sadness for a long time – in some cases, longer than you and the people around you expect – which is very common. For many, it can take weeks, months, or even years before the grief starts to subside. It may never completely disappear, but instead, you evolve around it. Accessing care and support or help offered by others is essential during this time.
Common feelings after a miscarriage
Grief and Sadness
Grief and sadness are shared emotions following a miscarriage.
Sadness is a natural and expected feeling to experience. You are not only feeling sad about the loss of your baby, but also the loss of the future you imagined, and possibly feel sad that others are not providing you the support or reaction you expected.
I remember like it was just the worst time, it was terrible. Like we were just, I was grief stricken. Like I really, really struggled with that, like a lot. And I remember, yeah just crying every single day, and [partner] just didn’t know what to do with me.
If you didn’t tell anyone about your pregnancy, you might feel alone in your pain and sadness. Although it can be challenging to be vulnerable and share these feelings, talking to someone about your loss may help with these feelings.
Partners, family, and friends may understand your feelings, or they may not. Partners often have different experiences and reactions, and open conversations can be worthwhile.
If you do not receive the support you would like from friends or family, consider speaking to a support group or perhaps even a psychologist or mental health professional.
…there was definitely a real sense of isolation. People don’t understand, it was outside the realms of most people’s experiences
You may experience a period after the miscarriage where you feel emotionally and physically empty or numb. You may have noticed changes in your body due to the pregnancy. Some women feel a sense of disbelief that this has happened to them, and it may feel surreal to feel so distressed when there are limited memories to process. Allow yourself time to absorb what has happened, talk to others, and find ways to remember your baby.
NOTE: If you experience intense and prolonged feelings of disconnection, numbness, or dissociation which interfere with your functioning, you should speak with a mental health professional.
…I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in my whole life. And then, you just feel dead inside, it’s really bizarre.
Feelings of anger may arise because you do not feel in control of the situation or your body. Anger may arise from not knowing the reasons for the miscarriage or feeling dissatisfied with the medical treatment you received. Or you may be resentful that other people have not responded to you in the way you felt you needed. A miscarriage can feel unfair and unjust. Anger can sometimes be a way of keeping feelings of sadness at bay.
It’s not fair, for the second one [miscarriage], when some people have never had any. You know it was more that thing of the unfairness of having a second one.
Many women describe feeling jealous of people who have children or have fallen pregnant. It is painful to see others with a baby, and, understandably, you feel this way. Criticising yourself and feeling ashamed about these feelings doesn’t help and certainly doesn’t take them away. These feelings are transient and don’t make you a terrible person. Speaking with others who have experienced a miscarriage may be helpful. It can also be beneficial to avoid events that might trigger your sadness until you feel ready.
I absolutely hated it. Particularly the ones with an older child who were pregnant. I dunno why, it just made me feel sick seeing them to be honest. Yeah, I mean I, and then I hated myself for feeling like that.
A miscarriage can be a very confusing experience. It can occur suddenly and out of the blue. There may be little explanation for why it happened, and you may experience a whole range of intense, complicated emotions as a result.
I was sort of really soul searching and just trying to work out where the silver lining was because I just didn’t quite get… why that would happen?
You may experience shock as a miscarriage is not the outcome that you imagined when you found out you were pregnant. Shock and disbelief are common feelings, and it often takes time to absorb that you have had a miscarriage.
And I think I was quite shocked because no one in my family has ever had a miscarriage before…
Worry or anxiety is a common emotion following a miscarriage. The intensity and duration of anxiety are likely to change over time.
The experience of the miscarriage itself may be very frightening, depending upon the circumstances. Necessary medical procedures may be painful, and you may not feel like you can control the situation. The absence of control can make you feel anxious.
Uneasy thoughts tend to take the form of “what if…” or “I should…”. Many women fear having another miscarriage and worry about what this means about their body and their health. You may also feel nervous about telling others about the miscarriage.
If you feel unable to switch off feelings of anxiety or worry, and you or others around you are concerned about you, consider seeking a referral to a psychologist or mental health professional who can assist you.
Failure or Lack of Control
You may feel like you have failed yourself, your partner, or your family by miscarrying. Or perhaps you feel like your body has failed you or have no control over your body, which can arouse anger and anxiety. It is essential to know that it is highly unlikely that you have done anything to cause your miscarriage. Trusting your body again can take time.
I just didn’t trust my body not to kill another one of my children.
It is a shared experience for women to feel guilty or blame themselves for a miscarriage, fearing they did something “wrong.” It is rarely the case that a woman’s actions caused a miscarriage.
In distressing situations, where we have no control over outcomes, we are inclined to look for explanations about why terrible, unforeseen things happen. In the absence of proof, it is understandable why we might want to blame ourselves, even though there may be no evidence that you? caused this or were at fault in any way.
When pregnancies progress to term, people have generally had more time (and therefore a more significant opportunity) to work through and somewhat resolve feelings of ambivalence by the time the baby arrives. They probably still feel very anxious about what is ahead, but the dramatic physical changes of pregnancy, especially the latter stages, can support this adjustment. The often-sudden nature of miscarriage can interrupt this process, and people feel uneasiness when left with mixed (unresolved) feelings about the pregnancy.
…yeah you kind of tend to blame yourself, and try to find answers as to why…it was very isolating, and I felt a lot of self-blame. I assumed it must be something that’s wrong with me.
You may feel relieved after a miscarriage. Perhaps your baby was diagnosed with a medical condition, or you were unwell during pregnancy (e.g., Morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum). You may also feel relieved if the pregnancy was unplanned or if your circumstances would have made caring for a baby a challenge. There are many valid reasons people may feel relief following a miscarriage and feeling this way doesn’t make you a bad person. You can feel relief simultaneously as feeling a range of other complicated emotions about the pregnancy loss.
You may also feel guilty because you feel relieved after losing a pregnancy. This feeling might coincide as you are feeling sad or anxious. It is normal to have a range of complex emotions at any one time. There is probably a good reason why part of you feels relieved, which is OK. Relief doesn’t discount feelings of sadness or make you a terrible person. Uncertainty (or ambivalence) about the pregnancy is a normal part of all pregnancies, even the most wanted pregnancy.
When should I seek mental health care?
If you think that the intensity of your feelings is troublesome to manage alone, you might consider seeking professional mental health support. You can now access Medicare rebates to speak to a psychologist who has high-level training and who is required to keep the details of what you tell them confidential. To find out more about when you may want to start seeking professional mental health support, you can read about common mental health symptoms on our When should I seek mental health care? page.