It is unthinkable, and yet it happens to many of us: losing a baby before that little one has a chance to live outside the womb. We don’t talk about it in public spaces, really. Death is already a frightening, burdensome thought and process to go through if a loved one passes away – death of a child or baby is not something we’re well equipped to handle.
But the stats remain: about 15 to 20 percent of confirmed pregnancies in America end in miscarriage. Stillbirth still occurs in one out of about every 200 pregnancies. And too many babies die within 24 hours of birth every year.
It hurts to even write those words. The emotions of loss are unfamiliar and terrible, and we don’t know how to work through them. Even if loss becomes more familiar to us through life circumstances, it never feels anything but hopeless. If you or someone you know is trying to navigate the already complex emotions of a postpartum experience, and has the added burden of grief, read on to find some relief and support.
Grieving is OK
Feel whatever you feel. There’s no right or wrong way to feel – even if you descend into deep despair, or feel detached.
Be aware of your hormones. Through a loss of pregnancy or birth, your body undergoes a dramatic shift in hormones. This directly affects your brain, and can play a role in postpartum depression and mood swings.
Work through the grief. You might have heard the stages before: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While the stages can be linear, they can also be fluid. Be prepared to feel one way one day and a totally different way the next.
Find value as a mother. While you might have had motherhood stolen from you, that makes you no less of a mom. You are valued as a mother.
You might think you’re going to lose everything. Losing something as important as an expected baby can make you feel like you’ll lose other relationships, people, or just your sanity in life.
Friendships will morph. Many won’t be able to support you in this time, for one reason or another, so be intentional about spending time with those who can give you what you need, and take some distance from those who cannot.
Let people know what you need. Whether it’s some space, some specific comfort measures (never too much coffee deliveries from a friend), or letting your friends know that you want to talk about your baby, to give he or she life and memories. People aren’t always sure what to do or what to say, so you can fill them in.
Find others. When something tragic happens, it often surprises us how many others have experienced the same thing. It’s freeing to be able to talk about our situation with others who understand.
Losing a baby is never, ever easy. Time is really the only thing that can heal. If you’d like to talk to someone about what you’re going through, or discuss some options to create a family in the future, please contact us anytime at 717-747-3099 or click on the button below.
Dr. Melanie Ochalski
P.S. If you’d rather find out more about us before talking about something so painful, you can check out our free webinar here.