Pregnancy Loss and Grief
This is a difficult time for women, their partners, and/or families. It is a time when you may need comfort and emotional support. You may also experience physical changes to your body after a pregnancy loss.
Some women and their families feel confused, shocked, angry, guilty, sad, and in despair. These feelings are normal. Sometimes, these feelings can be so overwhelming that you find it difficult to cope with the ordinary demands of daily living. Women often say they feel overwhelmed, become forgetful, and are preoccupied with thoughts of the baby. Just know that this process takes time.
Allow yourself to experience the pain of your loss
People experience grief both physically and emotionally. Each person’s grief experience is different. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Even within cultural groups, the experience of grief is different from person to person. Crying might help. Your feelings are real and they will not go away if you try to shut them out. You may feel some relief if you pay attention to your feelings and allow yourself time and space to express them. Healing can begin when you acknowledge your broken heart.
If you have any specific religious, cultural, or spiritual rituals, let your health care providers know.
Be patient with yourself
It is normal to feel confused and unsure of yourself for many days, weeks, and months after the loss of your baby. You need care and understanding from everybody around you. This is also a time to care for yourself. A crisis such as the loss of a baby may bring you, your partner, and your family closer together. However, this may not necessarily happen. You may all be grieving differently. This is normal. It might help if everyone sits together and takes turns to talk about their feelings. Try asking each other “How are you feeling?”
Get support from those around you
Pregnancy loss is often a private event in a woman’s life. Support from those around you may or may not be obvious. To get support, it might help to talk about your feelings with trusted friends and family members. Support from others can be very helpful as you cope with your loss.
If you don’t feel those around you can give you the support you need, you may wish to find someone less affected by your loss. You could contact a support group, a professional counsellor, your family doctor or midwife, or a public health nurse. While in hospital, you can ask to speak with the social worker. The social worker might be available to help you process the grieving experience, offer you practical support, and connect you with someone who can help.
You may find healing to create lasting memories with your beloved baby. This can include naming your baby, seeing and holding your baby after giving birth, having a memorial service, and collecting mementos.
With help from hospital staff, some families collect mementos of their baby such as a lock of the baby’s hair, hand and foot prints, photographs, the crib card, and the hospital bracelet. Professional photographers trained in taking gentle and beautiful photographs in a compassionate and sensitive manner are available to donate their services to take photographs for you. Visit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep to find a photographer in your area.
If you wish to commemorate the stillbirth of your child, you can apply for a Stillbirth Certificate of Remembrance.
Looking to the future
In the future, you might want to get pregnant again. Remember each pregnancy even though you thought they had disappeared. You may have unresolved feelings and fears of losing the pregnancy again. This is normal.
Future pregnancies may be emotionally difficult. If you allow yourself time to grieve your loss now, you might find your worries easier to cope with during your next pregnancy. If you have any questions, contact your health care provider.