Miscarriage: painful time

Losing an unborn  child can be devastating at any stage of a pregnancy. / Supplied
Losing an unborn child can be devastating at any stage of a pregnancy. / Supplied

Losing an unborn child through a miscarriage is arguably one of the most painful things a woman can go through.

Some women find themselves not only devastatsed, but also unsure about whether to share their loss with others as they fear being judged about their grief.

Some male partners tend to become impatient with a woman who seemingly cannot get over the death of her unborn child, and want to move on quickly and try again for a baby.

Clinical psychologist Mampho Mofokeng says some people often tend to get too technical in their description of life, and have various opinions about when they can actually consider an unborn foetus a human being.

"Some say that [life begins] after three months of pregnancy, and some are of the opinion that life begins at conception," Mofokeng says.

"In order to fully grasp the concept of why most women mourn for their unborn foetus, we need to remember that when a woman is pronounced as pregnant, all the other people [around her], including the father, may help her through the pregnancy, take her to doctors' visits and even be in the delivery room during labour - but ultimately it is the woman's sole responsibility to bring a new life into this world.

"No one else can relate to exactly what it is that this specific pregnant woman went through in those months, and what bonding happened between mother and child.

"So when it comes to a miscarriage, a lot of things can go through a woman's mind, including feelings of guilt, inadequacy, anger and self-deprecation, and all of those are completely normal."

Mofokeng says that however one loses a child, it is a tough thing for even the strongest parent.

"I think it is completely wrong for people to have a 'get over it' mentality when it comes to losing a so-called foetus," Mofokeng says.

"The woman needs to go through the normal stages of grief, and the people around her need to be supportive and understanding during this difficult time.

"The woman needs to go through the mourning process, and in time, when she feels that she is ready, only then can she try again."

Mofokeng advises the only time the family can intervene is if it becomes apparent that the loss and grief has completely enveloped the woman's life and continues for a long time.

In those circumstances, she suggests professional help is the only recourse.

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