Experiencing a miscarriage is not a situation where it happens and then life just goes on. Often women will experience triggers after a miscarriage for months, even years.
After my personal experience with a miscarriage, I did not realize just how many triggers I would experience over the next year. Each one was like a knife to the heart. Each trigger threw me immediately back to hearing the words, “I’m sorry, but I don’t see a heartbeat” or to me miscarrying in our living room, only for me to end up in the emergency room.
What Are Triggers After A Miscarriage?
Triggers after a miscarriage can come in a variety of ways. The sound of a tv show or song you were listening to when your miscarriage started, your first period when it returns, doctors visits, the smell of the season even. These triggers often just sneak up out of nowhere with no way to really prevent them.
For me personally, this has been one of my top triggers after my miscarriage. The evening after we found out our baby no longer had a heartbeat, I was sitting on the couch mindlessly watching FRIENDS with my husband. During one of the episodes I started bleeding extremely heavily and actively miscarrying. Over 2 years later and I still haven’t watched an episode of FRIENDS. It’s one of my favorite shows, but their voices just instantly take me back.
The crisp fall air is another for me. When the season has changed the last 2 years to fall, I am again taking right back to that night. This year was better than last, and I imagine it will get easier over time. But it’s still a triggering event.
It’s amazing how senses can stay with you and transfer you back to some of your darkest and most traumatic moments. While these triggers might be small and won’t send us to a sobbing heap on the floor, it still hurts.
For 5 weeks I absolutely DREADED that first period after my miscarriage. I had heard horror stories of how painful it could be. What I did not take into account was the emotional pain that it would cause. Did the cramps hurt? Of course. But it was the pain of the cramps, the heartache that I truly was no longer pregnant, and the flashbacks to the miscarriage that did me in. All of those combined were the triple threat I was not prepared for.
You can prepare yourself for the cramps and bleeding all you want. But actually going through that first period is probably one of the biggest triggers after a miscarriage I can think of.
Even if you get pregnant again and carry to term, that postpartum bleeding can trigger you too. There I was with our beautiful rainbow baby in my arms, and I’m having flashbacks to a miscarriage from a year ago all thanks to some heavy bleeding.
Some doctors require a 6-week visit after you experience a miscarriage. I was one of those cases as I had to have a D&C. I never once considered that I would need emotional support at that visit. I felt fine all morning and then I got to the parking lot. As I stared at the building, I felt the panic attack set in. The last time I was in that building, I had been told my baby no longer was with me. All the words, tears, and pain came flooding back to me. And there I was alone, needing a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry on.
It’s not just that first appointment though. It’s subsequent appointments as well. Women who later go on to get pregnant still feel this trigger as they have to go for prenatal checks routinely. They go to each appointment with sweaty palms and racing hearts.
I remember during my pregnancy with Tommy, I was a hot mess for that first trimester. One because he was a total surprise, but also because it was such a huge trigger to me to be in that office. It did help that I requested to have a different ultrasound tech than the one who delivered that faithful news from our miscarriage.
Pregnancy Tests and Announcements
It’s not uncommon for women to immediately start trying again after experiencing a miscarriage. Many women are eager to start or grow their families, but can often leave little room to process and/or grieve.
Pregnancy tests can be a huge trigger after a miscarriage. Either it’s going to be negative or it will be positive. The negative is a knife to the heart as you so desperately want to be pregnant again. The positive, a panic that you will lose this one too. It’s just one huge emotional rollercoaster each month.
Pregnancy announcements are also triggering. It seems like every time you get on social media after experiencing a pregnancy loss, someone is posting that they are pregnant. It’s not that you aren’t happy for these people, it’s just that you want to be them. You want that joy you had back. You want your baby back.
Even after Kevin and I decided to stop trying and focus on Kenny, I would still get a little upset whenever I saw another pregnancy announcement. All because I was missing what should have been.
How To Cope With These Triggers
So, what do you do when you have had a pregnancy loss and are suddenly plagued by triggers? You have to find ways to cope with these triggers after a miscarriage.
If you have access to it, try and find yourself a mental health professional. They are trained to help you process your emotions. You may think you are okay and that you’re coping just fine. But a surprising trigger may hit you out of nowhere and you may realize too late that you are not fine at all.
Talking through your trauma and having a listening ear can do wonders for you. Overtime you will be able to see how far you have come.
Therapy doesn’t make you weak, it makes you stronger and more emotionally capable to handle what life is throwing at you.
Social Media Detox
This one. This right here is probably one of my biggest ones. I am SO thankful that I was already off social media when I had my miscarriage. Just being in public hurt because pregnant women were everywhere. I cannot imagine what it would have been like on social media at that time. Even today when I feel like life is throwing too much at me, I dip out of social media. Does it make me look crazy or flaky? Maybe. Is it good for me mentally? Absolutely!
Whether it’s something new to pick up or something you have done for years, jump back into whatever you can to occupy your time and keep you happy.
Doing these hobbies will keep you from constantly dwelling on what happened. It keeps your mind on something else, your focus is garnered on another project for a time being. Will it take away the hurt and pain you have? No. Will it give you time to put your focus and mindset on something other than a baby? Absolutely.
For a brief time I took up running. It felt good to be out in the fresh air running and clearing my mind all while strengthening my body back up. Have I stuck with that hobby? No. But it worked for me at that time and I am grateful for that.
Find Your People
After a miscarriage you want to find the most supportive people possible. Whether they knew you were pregnant or not, these people will be there for you in your darkest days. It’s okay to want to be alone and have your space, your friends and family should understand that.
They should also be there when you are ready to talk or need to cry. Keep in mind that miscarriage is still a taboo topic. While many women are trying to knock that barrier down, others still aren’t comfortable talking about it.
Take Your Time
Whether it be time off of work, a weekend getaway, time away from trying for a baby, or time away from the public, take what you need.
You have suffered a tremendous loss. You deserve a break. Take a few days if possible off work to recover not only physically, but some emotionally. You need that time to process your emotions.
Some people are ready to jump right back in and try again, there is nothing wrong with that if you’re one of them. But if you start to get overwhelmed, it’s okay to step back for a month and try again later.
Sometimes time away from others is needed. Obviously you shouldn’t become a recluse. But it’s perfectly acceptable to stay in for a bit. I only went out when absolutely necessary. Especially those first 2 weeks. A huge reason is because if I heard a baby or pregnant mother I would burst into tears. I looked like a complete psychopath and could not pull myself together. After a while I would go to the store again and then progressed from there.
We all grieve differently, we all process differently, and we all cope differently. It’s important to remember that worked for me or another friend may not be what’s best for you and your mental health. Just remember to take the grieving process slowly and as healthy as possible. Triggers after a miscarriage are out there, and can sneak up on you. If you know the best ways for you to cope, keep those close.