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My Body Is Grieving
Written by Clara Hinton   |  Feb 10, 2002
When a miscarriage occurs, there are several very abrupt changes that take place with a woman. Emotionally, a woman must relocate her thinking from pregnant to not pregnant. This sounds easy to do, but it can take months for a woman to completely get her mind to accept the fact that she is no longer in a pregnant state.

Linked together with the emotional grief that takes place when there is a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or stillbirth, is the physical grief that a mother will experience. Often, a mother feels the real presence of “body grief.”

During pregnancy, a woman’s body is changing rapidly. She stops menstruating. Her breasts become tender and swollen. A mother will experience hormonal changes that will bring about nausea. She will experience extreme fatigue because of all of the changes taking place.

If the pregnancy has progressed beyond 8 weeks, the mother will notice an enlargement of the uterus. She might experience some slight swelling in her hands and feet, and she can even feel a nagging ache in her back. All of these are very real reminders that the body is pregnant.

When miscarriage, stillbirth, or an ectopic pregnancy takes place, all of these changes that are taking place in a woman’s body now have to do a quick reversal—back to being not pregnant. The body will go through what some have termed “body grief.” Body grief affects a woman who has had an abortion or who gives up her baby for adoption, too.

What is “body grief”? Body grief is that sudden adjustment to hormonal levels and bodily changes. The intensity of body grief will be determined by how far along a mother was in her pregnancy. Was she 6 or 8 weeks pregnant, or did she deliver an 8-month stillborn baby?

Body grief might include cramping as the uterus shrinks back to a non-pregnant size. There might be feelings of faintness and some sweating as hormone levels are rapidly changing. The pregnancy hormone levels must now fall back down to zero in order to eliminate all body grief.

Body grief will occur as the breasts go back to normal size. Breasts might leak as they return to a non-pregnant state. And, a woman will often experience body grief when menstruation occurs following a miscarriage or other child loss. The return of menstruation is the final reminder that there is no longer a viable pregnancy.

Body grief is real, and a woman should be encouraged to talk about the grief she experiences when a miscarriage or other early child loss has taken place. This type of physical grief might last as long as 6 – 8 weeks. Most likely, though, most of the physical symptoms of a pregnancy will disappear in 4 weeks. The more difficult part is getting the mind to cooperate with the body. Many women refuse to believe that their pregnancy has ended. This denial can last for several months, and is generally helped when a woman allows herself to accept the “body grief.”

By allowing yourself to recognize the reality of body grief, a woman is working through the difficulties of grief towards hope and healing. Body grief is real. Allow yourself to grieve the pregnancy loss. By grieving the loss, you are taking one step forward on the journey of grief.
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