How do you provide doula support for miscarriage?

Doula support for miscarriage is very similar to the support you would provide for a happy birth. Many miscarriages are NOT like having a heavy period; they can be just as painful and uncomfortable as labor. I remember thinking this as I experienced my miscarriage. The pain came in waves. It was NOT like a heavy period at all and that was very confusing.

So the first bit of doula support you could provide is to help the mother understand that if her miscarriage feels like labor it’s normal. Provide warm compresses, help her with her breathing, utilize aromatherapy, provide loving emotional support during this difficult time. Help her understand what she is physically feeling. Does movement feel better or does she want to lay down? Would she like to get in the bath or shower? Many of the same rules apply when laboring during a miscarriage. Can she feel the baby coming? Once the baby comes, the contractions typically subside as does the pain. She may not be able to see the physical form of the baby so the pain subsiding is a sign her miscarriage is nearly over.

When it comes to the birth though, are you familiar with what her options are? She has many options even if she is delivering by D&C in a hospital or outpatient surgery center. Would she like to see her baby? Hold her baby (may not be possible with a D&C delivery)? Prepare her for what this may look like by visiting the “See Our Babies” page at Stillbirthday. Seeing her baby may be traumatizing so be gentle with her when you encourage this. The baby may not be well formed, if delivered by D&C the baby’s form will most likely be destroyed, and even if the baby is well formed, seeing such an early baby may feel wrong.

It’s okay no matter what the mother chooses. It is important for you to know those options and to help her. If delivering at home, where will she store her baby? Will she take the baby to the hospital for disposal? Will she bury her baby at home (check with the county first)? Will she choose communal burial such as what is available at Mt. Olivet?

After the birth, help her to know what is normal in regards to bleeding. She should check in with her care provider if she delivered at home and she needs to monitor her bleeding just like after delivering in a hospital. Soaking more than 1 pad an hour warrants a call to her care provider. Miscarriages can be very bloody. If you are comfortable, assist her in cleaning up.

Tuck her into bed, bring her something delicious and nutritious to drink and/or eat; perhaps grief soup? Be a shoulder and listen. She will likely need to share her story. It’s okay for you to cry with her. This can be very healing for her as well because it shows that someone else cares about her loss. Allow her to grieve and remind her there are no timelines on her grief; it can be short or it can be long.

Don’t forget to refer her to therapists or support groups. You may also refer her to Dragonflies For Ruby for online bereavement doula support or local support if you live near Denver. As a birth professional, you may also need support and someone to share your grief and story with. Dragonflies For Ruby can help you through your feelings of grief and loss as well. Visit this page for support groups and resources. If you feel more comfortable, find a local Stillbirthday Bereavement Doula for your area. After you have provided doula support for miscarriage, it may be time for you to consider becoming a bereavement doula.

Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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