Pregnancy After Loss: It's O.K. to smile
Last week in our series on wellness during pregnancy Steph helped us build the Best Pregnancy Morning Routine Ever! Rolling out of bed when you are pregnant is not always easy so we hope that you were inspired to start your mornings with a little TLC - you deserve it! Sometimes the kind of TLC we need during pregnancy involved a little bit more than great skin care and a power smoothie and that is what we are going to talk about this week as we explore taking care of yourself during a pregnancy after a loss.
The sad reality is that not every pregnancy ends with a happy and healthy baby. As many as 15 - 20 % of confirmed pregnancies end with a miscarriage. Stillbirth and the passing of an infant, though much less common occurrences, also leave families grieving a lost baby. Losing a baby - no matter when it happens - is painful and very real and if it has happened to you we are so very sorry.
Getting pregnant again after a loss
When you find out that you are pregnant again after having lost a baby your emotions may well be all over the place. These are all totally normal reactions:
Joy "Oh my goodness! We are having another baby!"
Guilt "I shouldn't be feeling this happy..."
Anger "Why did this happen to me? Why can I not feel happy and joyous?"
Gratitude "We get another chance."
Fear "What if we lose this baby, too?"
Living simultaneously with grief and joy is something that can feel impossible to do and you may find yourself stuck in the muddy middle.
Focusing on wellness during a pregnancy after loss
Keeping yourself well during this pregnancy is going to take more than prenatal vitamins and rest. You are going to need support, validation, and a good deal of self-care. Not only is your body going through all of the changes that come with pregnancy, your heart and your mind are still mourning your missing baby.
Making time to check in with a counselor is probably one of the wisest and most loving things you can do for yourself during this time but there is also comfort to be found with community. Connecting with others who have experienced the loss of a baby is likely going to be very helpful. You are not alone. What you are feeling is real and normal. Reach out to your partner, friends, family, a counselor, or a support group. Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas.
"Our loss is unique and our grief is often discounted, to parents the death is devastating. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network provides support services to bereaved parents and their families all over Ontario. We are Canada's leading educators promoting the sensitive care and management to families following a loss."
An organization that supports women and families experiencing loss at any stage. A wonderful collection of resources available online as well as the option for personal support.
An online publication that shares both informational and personal accounts about the loss of a pregnancy or infant. Their philosophy says it all: "Choosing hope over fear while nurturing grief."
Working with a doula
During a pregnancy after loss, it is totally normal to feel like you need extra support. Finding a healthcare provider that is sympathetic and able to make time to have quality discussions with you is very important but even with the most caring and generous OB or Midwife, you are usually limited to prenatal appointments and occasional phone calls.
This is why having a doula on your team can be extremely helpful.
For me, pregnancy after loss has brought with it a whole mixed bag of emotions: joy mixed with fear and mainly a huge helping of anxiety. Along with excellent care providers and a wonderful therapist, hiring a doula as part of my care team is the best choice I could have made for myself. For me, having a doula with me on this journey is like having a friend I can contact day or night when I'm feeling like I'm about to fall to pieces. She is always there to help me put myself back together with gentle encouragement and is never judgmental. Pregnancy after loss has been a very difficult journey for me, but having a doula on my side has helped make it bearable. - Sarah M, Hello, Baby! doula client
A doula is there for you. Period. Without the responsibility of taking care of your physical or mental health needs, your doula can support you during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum when your rainbow baby comes home. Giving you information, validation, and even a cup of tea and a tissue, a doula can fill a gap in your support network.
It's O.K. to smile
Something we hear so often when speaking with a woman who is pregnant with a rainbow baby is that they feel as though by smiling, laughing, dreaming, and celebrating this new life they are somehow abandoning the memory of their lost child. When this comes up, all we can say is this:
It is OK to cry... but it is also OK to smile.
There is nothing that will ever cause you to forget the baby you have lost. Nothing. You will hold their memory close to your heart for a lifetime. There is space within you to love them both and, with help, support and time, eventually it is our hope that your love overtakes the grief.
Wishing you rainbows,
If you have an idea for a blog series or a burning question we haven’t yet answered, send us an email - firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject BLOG IDEA!. No doubt, someone else is experiencing the same thing and could totally benefit from it! Next week we will be looking at some of the coolest things your pregnancy body is doing... other than growing a human! See you next time.