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Early miscarriage can cause trauma too

Posted on 31 May 2017

There is an untold story which occasionally surfaces in the press, in chats between women over a coffee or when I see clients at my hypnotherapy clinics who often come to me in complete despair, feeling they have nowhere to turn. The story is about early miscarriage -- untold as to how common it is, how traumatic it can be, how painful the emotions are and how it is rarely talked about.

One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, and most of those are in the first 12 weeks. It is so common yet so hidden. Behind that statistic lies a lot of misery, and for some women the effects can be so severe that they end up with Post Natal Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PN PTSD).

A recent study funded by the Imperial Health Charity found that women who had lost a baby at the early stages of pregnancy suffered in ways which have not been looked at properly before. And of course, this is the stage where miscarriage is most likely. Many of us may be surprised that the effects of early pregnancy loss can be so severe and so were the experts.  The study author, Dr Jessica Farren, said “We were surprised at the high number of women who suffered the symptoms of PTSD after early pregnancy loss.”

The study followed 113 women who had lost a baby or suffered an ectopic pregnancy and reported instances of anger, depression and nightmares and flashbacks to the events around the miscarriage.

These women are suffering alone.

Dr Farren said: “At the moment there is not routine follow-up appointment for women who have suffered a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. We have checks in place for postnatal depression, but we don’t have anything in place for the trauma and depression following pregnancy loss.”

PN PTSD in London, the stories around early miscarriage

I have become aware of this lack of support through my own hypnotherapy work with Post Natal PTSD. As I carry out my PN PTSD hypnotherapy in London, I have also seen lots of women who have suffered an early miscarriage. They are nearly always surprised when I tell them that they are not alone, that their feelings and experiences are actually quite common. They often feel shocked at the depth of their feelings and very isolated.

The isolation has many causes but a common one often stems from the ’12 week rule’ -- the convention that pregnancy should not be announced until the early ‘danger period’ has passed. This can mean that a woman finds herself going through a painful and traumatic experience surrounded by people who have no idea that anything is wrong. A client I saw at my Post Natal PTSD clinic in Berkshire the other week came to me because she could not cope at work where none of her colleagues knew she had been pregnant. People were asking about her Christmas plans as they sorted out the year’s leave rota. She felt she could not say that she had no plans because she had believed she would be on maternity leave by then. She felt isolated, deceitful and totally alone. Another big problem I see is women feeling guilty as their feelings are so strong – because early miscarriage is so common there can be the idea that you can just get over it, or try again and you can be pregnant again in a few months and it will all be forgotten.

This can be true in some cases, but in many it is not. Problems with PN PTSD, and this is what is going on here, can persist over years so it is best to deal with the root causes as quickly as possible. 

The eyes have it: EDMR- related techniques

Eye movement integration for post natal PTSDIf you have experienced an early miscarriage and want help you may be interested in one technique I use. This is called Eye Movement Integration and it is related to EDMR for PTSD. Behind these abbreviations lies a very powerful way of changing how we hold memories and their emotional impact on us.

So what happens in a therapy session with me? All treatment plans are different as everybody’s issues are unique to them.  So I will take an overview of your history and current issues and work out a detailed and unique programme just for you. So, what follows is a rough guide to give you a bit of an idea.

After an exploration of your personal history I will help you overcome the painful emotions around your trauma by using directed eye movements to help you change how you feel about the memories. This is a simple, painless technique which allows the brain to reprocess the events around your miscarriage without the associated trauma and distressing feelings you have been experiencing. This often results in rapid relief of symptoms. You can feel much better after just one session and three or four can be enough to get rid of the problem permanently.

Why eye movements you might ask – the answer is in the way we process and store information and how our eye movements affect this. By taking the events which are causing you pain, then using the special techniques of this directed eye movement you can begin to re-process those memories and improve very quickly. I will ‘scale’ how you feel at the beginning and the end of the session – this can show you just how much better you feel when you leave than when you came in.

The Eye Movement Integration technique can be a wonderful start to getting you back to how you want to feel. And all of us are unique and experience things differently, so I will always make time to understand your particular fears and worries. With miscarriage, this is especially important as many of you will want to go on to another pregnancy and we can work together to make that pregnancy as calm and as happy as possible.

If you have suffered an early miscarriage let’s have a chat. 

Fiona Nicolson on Google+

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