It is estimated that somewhere between 15% and 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Because a good portion of miscarriages occur before a woman is even aware she is pregnant (so-called “chemical pregnancies”), the actual statistics are likely much higher, with some estimating as much as 50%. Emotional responses to pregnancy can be mixed, especially early in the pregancy, but many women, in particular those who were trying to become pregnant, experience enthusiasm, excitement, and joy as they begin to envision their lives including their new baby. When these women experience miscarriage, the emotional repercussions can be deep and long lasting.
So, it stands to reason that miscarriage can be a devastating loss, and one that can leave the woman feeling isolated in her grief. Even the word “miscarriage” seems to imply a wrong carrying, a failure to carry her baby into the world. Many women experience feelings of guilt, shame, and loneliness. The physical experience of miscarriage is often painful, and depending on the gestation of the baby, sometimes similar to labor, but without the benefit of a child to bring home at the end of the experience. As hormone levels plummet after the miscarriage, it is common for women to experience depression, anxiety, and despair. Women can become frustrated in addition to their grief if miscarriage has become a pattern of infertility. Women may even feel betrayed by their bodies. It is hard to underestimate the somatic implications for women experiencing neonatal loss. Body image issues are sadly not unusual for many women, and miscarriage can add a new dimension to the struggles they face.
Massage can play an important role in helping women after miscarriage. The comfort of touch is healing. A woman healing from miscarriage will need a network of support from her friends, family, therapist, support groups, and wellness practitioners. Massage’s contribution is an important aspect of this caring network. Helping the woman find places of comfort, ease, and safety in her body is an important benefit offered by massage– especially at a time when her body may feel less like an ally and more like something that is broken, insufficient, or inadequate. If you or a loved one is healing after miscarriage, the caring hands of a skillful massage therapist can meet the woman in her grief by providing a safe environment in which to not only experience comforting touch, but to perhaps find a place of compassion within for herself.
Miscarriage can be challenging to talk about. As a culture, we don’t seem to have a ritual surrounding miscarriage. It’s hard for others to know the “right” thing to say, and it may even be challenging for the woman to express her experience to others. Support groups can be helpful to find a community of other women to share their sense of loss. Bay Area listings are provided below for women seeking support.
Thank you for visiting East Bay Massage.
San Francisco SAND (Support After Neonatal Death)
UCSF Women’s Health Building
2356 Sutter Street, San Francisco
HAND (Helping After Neonatal Death) of the Peninsula
HAND of Santa Cruz 831-438-4513
HAND of Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Santa Clara County, Central Valley 888-908-4263
Alta Bates Medical Center
2450 Ashby Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705
They meet on the first and third Wednesday of every month from 7-9. Twenty-four hour telephone counseling is available.
SAND Mt Diablo
Mt Diablo Medical Center
2540 East Street Concord, CA 94524
A bi weekly support group that also has 24 hour telephone counseling.
Women’s Miscarriage Support Group
Muir OB-GYN Medical Group
112 La Casa Via, Suite 200
Walnut Creek, CA 94598