How to cope with Mother’s Day after a miscarriage, stillbirth or failed IVF round

Mother’s Day after a miscarriage, stillbirth or failed IVF* round can be a really painful day to endure. With Mother’s Day approaching here in Australia I wanted to share some thoughts on how to cope on this day that we tell ourselves ‘should’ feel happy, but just doesn’t.

Before I get into my tips can I just say, the goal of this post is NOT to help you ‘hold it together’. I share these tips so that you can find your way towards healing, NOT to help you bury your feelings and pretend you’re okay. You’re allowed to not be okay.

Mother's day after a miscarriage

4 tips for Mother’s Day after a miscarriage, stillbirth or failed IVF round

Try to be judgment free

Above all else, I think it’s important to go into this day without expectations and judgement. Try to let the day be what it needs to be, rather than lumping yourself with expectations about how you should feel (and then judging yourself for it).

I see this a lot with women who’ve got other children, or those who had a very early loss or failed IVF round. Women with other children often feel like they should feel more grateful for the children they do have and try to deny their sadness. Those who’ve had an early loss or failed IVF round often tell me they shouldn’t feel so sad because ‘they were only 6 weeks’ or that they ‘were never really pregnant’. But the emotions of grief are the same, whatever your experience.

Try to go into the day being super kind to yourself, rather than judging how you feel. Feel your feelings, don’t judge them.

Feel it, don’t flee it

Which brings me to my second point. You’re going to be tempted to do anything you can to distract yourself from your feelings. You might make yourself super busy with plans so you don’t have to think. Or you might eat your feelings (from one emotional eater to another, this one is the worst. You just end up feeling sick AND sad.) Or perhaps you prefer distraction and bury your head in a Netflix binge or a social media spiral.

In the short term, denying your feelings might seem like the best choice. But from experience, when you push down those feelings down and choose not to feel them, they tend to pop back up when you least expect it. I’ve bawled in a supermarket for no apparent reason. I’ve had feelings I denied rage out of me in anger that was (mis)directed at my husband. In the long term it doesn’t work.

I’m not going to lie. Feeling your feelings of grief is painful. See if you can just give yourself ten minutes to sit with them and notice, rather than run from them.

Be kind to yourself

While it may seem counterintuitive to the previous of point of making yourself actually feel your painful emotions, hear me out. Other than allowing yourself to feel, I want you to be extremely kind to yourself on this day. Do whatever you need to do to be okay.

Avoid the big family gathering. (Or go to the big family gathering if that makes you happy.)

Let yourself spend the day in bed.

Take yourself out for lunch and movie.

Whatever feels like kindness towards yourself today. Do that.

Connect with your baby

I did warn you that my advice wasn’t going to be about ‘holding it together’. This final point will probably be the hardest. I want you to find a way to connect with your baby. Validate your own feelings of grief by intentionally finding a way to connect.

Write them a letter.

Have a little ceremony.

Talk to them.

Pray if that’s what you are into.

Do a yoga practice or meditation and dedicate it to your baby.

And then as you’re connecting with your baby let whatever emotions come up and feel them. Don’t judge yourself and try to be as kind as you can.

If you would like more yoga practices to heal from a miscarriage, have a look at this series here.

*I include failed IVF round here because this experience is often felt as a loss of a baby, just like the other two experiences.

One Response to “How to cope with Mother’s Day after a miscarriage, stillbirth or failed IVF round

  • Sheila
    1 year ago

    Thank you for this. Years ago, when I was struggling with recurrent miscarriages, I found myself on an online support group. A nurse wrote to the community, and her Mother’s Day message was that all of our love, sadness, tears and pain did indeed make us mothers–despite the fact that we did not have children. That our longing and loving was no different. And somehow, during a time when I was consumed by my losses, it made me feel better, and it made me feel seen. In my case, after 4 losses and uterine surgery I was finally able to have my daughter…who just turned 22. It all was so so long ago…the sting is no longer as painful…but the losses are never forgotten.

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