Posts tagged pregnancy loss
Holding space for loss

Doulas and loss

As doulas we are passionate about supporting people through pregnancy, birth, and the weeks and months of postpartum transition and healing that follow. We work hard to make sure that we are always learning and building our skills to offer the best support possible - to be whatever you need.

Doulas can support you through a loss or a pregnancy after loss with sensitivity and consistent support. 

Doulas can support you through a loss or a pregnancy after loss with sensitivity and consistent support. 

The further into this work we go, the more we are learning that supporting our clients through a loss will continue to be a significant part of our work.  Whether it is the loss of a pregnancy in the early weeks, a stillbirth, or the death of a baby postpartum - loss affects many families in our community in so many ways. As doulas, it is our responsibility to support our clients through these losses in whatever way is needed. There are so many ways for us to do this, but most important is our ability to hold space for our clients as they grapple with loss and to acknowledge their experience and the life lost. 

Holding space

Holding space sounds very vague out of context but it can be one of a doula's most important skills both in birth and while supporting a family through loss. Holding space can be especially important while someone is working through the complicated process of grieving and healing after a loss. As a doula, holding space can include anything from sitting, listening, and bearing witness to consoling, reflecting, and helping to celebrate or mourn the life lost. Most of all, holding space means being there - observing and responding because, as with birth, loss is experienced differently by everyone. 

From holding space to holding hands, a doula can be with you as you work your way through grief and loss. 

From holding space to holding hands, a doula can be with you as you work your way through grief and loss. 

Acknowledging the life lost

Time and again, we hear parents who have lost explain how isolating the experience has been for them. People are afraid to talk with them about it expect in expressions of condolences or pitty. The more we learn about working with people and families moving through loss, the more we are seeing the deep importance of acknowledging the life lost. When a pregnancy ends or a baby dies, it is not only that one life that ends. Of course, parents and siblings continue on but the life they expected - the new family they had prepared themselves for - is also gone.  After the initial loss has passed, engaging with parents on their own terms to help remember that little life is something that everyone ought to be able to do, and is something that as doulas, we strive to support. 

PAIL Advocate Training

What has brought on this sudden bought of reflection on our work as doulas?  For those of you who follow along with us on Facebook and Instagram, you may know that Jenn has started taking a course to help the Hello, Baby! team better support our clients through loss and grief when we find ourselves there with them. Being able to communicate well, help our clients understand what may be happening to their bodies and babies, and to support them as they move through grief is something we believe is so important to our work.  If you have been affected by the loss of a pregnancy or baby, we want you to know you are not alone - we are always here to listen and help lift you up however we are able. 

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

pregnancy after 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.

pregnancy after loss

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.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network

"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."

StillBirthDay

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.

Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS)

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."

Pregnancy After Loss (Facebook support group)

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.

doula peterborough rainbow baby

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, 

- Jenn

If you have an idea for a blog series or a burning question we haven’t yet answered, send us an email - info@hellobabyptbo.com 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.