The pain of losing a child at any stage is unbearable for almost any parent. In an instant, all your child-rearing hopes sink. As with other types of losses, suffering a stillbirth or miscarriage can bring on some very intense emotional grief.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Tips for Coping With a First-Time Miscarriage or Stillbirth
- Tips for Coping If This Isn’t Your First Miscarriage or Stillbirth
- Tips for Coping When Your Social Circle Is Pregnant or Has Small Children
Although the grieving process is different for everyone, the types of grief experienced with the loss of a child generally have the same common denominators of intense pain and suffering.
How do you learn to cope with the anger, sorrow, and hurt you're experiencing after losing your child? And, will you ever heal from this? These are the questions that will undoubtedly come up as you try to make sense of your loss.
As if dealing with this heartbreaking news isn't enough, other things will need your immediate attention when grieving the loss of a baby at or before birth. Here are some things you need to know about miscarriage and stillbirth.
Tips for Coping With a First-Time Miscarriage or Stillbirth
1. You did nothing wrong
After suffering through a miscarriage or stillbirth, you might seek out reasons for why you lost your child. You might start to evaluate all aspects of your lifestyle, eating and sleeping habits, even down to wondering if you were breathing properly to allow for the maximum oxygen flow to your unborn child. It is important to remember not to beat yourself up over it, and stop trying to find blame where none otherwise exists.
There are many reasons why a woman miscarries that differ from woman to woman and from one pregnancy to the next. These reasons range from hormonal issues, age of the mother at gestation, trauma, and unfavorable lifestyle choices like smoking and consuming too much caffeine. Sometimes women miscarry or lose a child in the gestation stages with no clear indication as to why it happened.
2. Preserve some memories
You may want to consider keeping a memory box filled with all the special mementos of your pregnancy and your child. If you’ve had a sonogram or other ultrasound imaging, think about placing a copy of it in the box as well. It's important to acknowledge your baby as well as your loss so that you're able to successfully work through the grieving process as the weeks and months pass.
Other ways you can remember your child are:
- Ask to bathe or dress your baby at the hospital
- Keep an article of their clothing or their swaddle blanket
- Take photographs
- Take an imprint of hand and footprints
- Read a story or sing a lullaby or special hymn to your baby
3. Know that you’re not alone
Although everyone’s miscarriage journey is different, know that you’re not alone. Many women have suffered through this type of loss, and their personal stories of love, grief, and bereavement can help you through your healing process.
While some women can move forward from this type of loss with less effort, other women will suffer deeper wounds. If you're struggling with deep loss and despair, consider seeking a support group of others who've experienced losing a child at or before birth.
A support group isn’t meant to take away from your personal experience of loss, but to help make a connection with others who understand what you're going through. There is absolutely no reason for grieving alone. You can become a lifeline for one another as you share in your losses and talk openly about the child that you longed for and lost along the way.
Tips for Coping If This Isn’t Your First Miscarriage or Stillbirth
When you’ve suffered multiple losses due to miscarriage or stillbirth, you may start to question why this is happening to you. If you don’t have any direct answers to your questions, discuss with your doctor the medical reasons or possibilities behind your losses.
It may be a myriad of things that can be scientifically pinpointed, or it may be that there are no specific answers. In either case, you’ll still need love and support to help you through this emotionally trying time.
4. Learn the facts
If you've already suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth, and it's happened again, one of the most important things that you can do is to find out the reasons why this has happened. Most of the time, there's no fetal autopsy performed to try to determine the cause of your baby's death.
Sometimes when all seems normal — no issues with the pregnancy, all levels are good, the sonogram shows no abnormalities — you can still unexpectedly lose a child during pregnancy.
5. Select a spokesperson
When you're expecting a child, all of your friends and loved ones feel your excitement. It's natural for them to want to know all the details of your pregnancy and the birth of your baby. But what happens when you have to break the sad news that your baby has died?
It can become very emotionally painful and overwhelming to tell each person individually that your baby has died. You'll soon tire of hearing condolences for your miscarriage or the loss of your baby, when all you wanted to hear was your baby's first breath.
Consider appointing someone to act as your spokesperson so that they can take responsibility for giving the news. They can also be in charge of making an official death announcement and giving out details for the funeral or memorial service.
6. Find a new purpose
While awaiting news on the autopsy or your doctor’s findings, give yourself permission to refocus your energy and attention on something different. If you’re a mom to other children, reconnect with them and find loving ways to spend time with them. They’ll also be hurting for the loss of their sibling and may not understand what has happened.
If your spouse or partner is also feeling sad and depressed, become each other’s advocate and help each other heal from this loss. In time you may decide to try again, but even if you don’t want to, giving your life a new purpose will fill some of the void left behind by the baby that you’ve lost.
Tips for Coping When Your Social Circle Is Pregnant or Has Small Children
It can be heartbreakingly tough to put on a smile and pretend that you’re doing just fine after having lost your baby. This is especially true when other women in your social circle are pregnant or have small children.
You can sit there and brave your way through another playdate at the park, or sip on mimosas during your weekly ladies' brunch while everyone shares excitedly. Or, you can be truthful and tell everyone how you're feeling and that you might need a break to sort through your feelings and emotions.
7. Be honest
There isn't anything more freeing than being honest with your friends about what you're feeling. Sometimes others don't realize how painful it can be for you to sit through yet another session of trading funny stories about what others’ children said or did.
Don't be afraid to be vocal about your loss, and excuse yourself when needing some time to regroup. Your friends will understand. You may even consider sharing with them baby loss quotes so that they can better understand what you're going through.
8. Celebrate your friends
As painful as it may be for you to celebrate your friend's pregnancies, it can also give you hope and bring you joy sharing in their experiences. You might feel anger towards them from time to time because they're pregnant or have successfully given birth. Understand that these feelings are part of the grieving process.
Allow yourself to go through these emotions. In time, they will sort themselves out and you will come to understand why you were feeling this way. It's up to you if you want to share these feelings with your friends, or with a support group who might better understand your resentment.
9. Find new friends
This might be a good time to find a new set of friends that you can spend time with outside of your current circle. This doesn’t mean abandoning your friends altogether. It simply means expanding your friendships to include women who can relate to you on different levels.
You can now be more selective on which invitations to accept because you are pulling invites from two different sets of friends. Your current friends might be surprised and a little hurt at first, but they’ll see that it's healthy for you to spend time apart until you're at peace with your loss.
Moving Forward With Loss
As difficult as it may seem to even consider getting past this pain, the grief and sorrow you’re now experiencing will lessen over time. Whether you try again for another baby, or decide otherwise, the memories of your baby will always be held in your heart.