Coping With Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Losing a child is devastating. It doesn’t matter if that child was growing inside of you or your partner, or was lost after birth. It is heartbreaking, emotionally-jarring, and traumatic.
Pregnancy and infant loss whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or other complications are more common than one might think. One in four women will experience this tragic and painful loss. Model and Actress Chrissy Teigen recently shared her experience with pregnancy loss.
When this happens you may feel as if you can’t go on. You may be fearful of the future. You may feel alone and lost. You might feel like you are at fault—wondering what happened to cause this tragedy. All of these feelings are ok and perfectly normal, which is why it is so important that you take care of yourself.
Understand it’s Not Your Fault
Pregnancy and infant loss can happen to anyone. There are not always clear answers for why things like this happen and, while that in itself is hard to accept, it is important that you give yourself grace.
Give Yourself Time to Grieve
You might feel anxious to move forward or you might feel like you just want to give up. Grief is a complicated thing. It is important that you give your mind and body time to heal. Spend some time caring for yourself. If you don’t want to see friends or family because it is too difficult to talk about your loss, then give yourself a pass for the time being. Stay home and watch some funny movies.
Your body has also just endured the unimaginable. It needs time to recover. Listen to your doctor. Rest. Let others care for you.
Don’t Expect Your Spouse/Partner to Grieve the Same
Everyone has their own way of grieving. While you might be an emotional rollercoaster, your partner might be burying themselves in work or hobbies. That doesn’t mean they aren’t also in pain. It just means they are coping in a different way. Talk to each other and give yourselves the space to grieve in your own ways.
Consider Unplugging from Social Media
Photos of your friends’ kids or pregnancy announcements are probably not making you feel too great right now. And, that’s ok. Consider deactivating your social media accounts for the time being while you heal emotionally. You don’t need to put yourself through more grief than you are already enduring. These announcements can feel like personal attacks and painful reminders of what was lost. Instead of letting those negative feelings build up inside of you, disconnect. You can return when you are in a better place.
Don’t Push Yourself
People don’t like to see others sad. When you are grieving others might expect you to bounce back quickly, but it isn’t always this easy. Grief takes time. While it is important that you not completely shut yourself in, you also don’t have to force yourself into uncomfortable situations.
Baby showers and baby-related events can be especially hard when you have experienced a loss. Instead of trying to put on a happy face and get through these events, consider skipping them this time.
Lean on Your Support System
A support system can look many different ways—it could be a therapist who is helping you work through your emotions, it could be a friend who has gone through something similar, or it could be a spouse/partner. Whoever it is, it is important you have someone. You need someone you can feel safe talking to, someone who can put you at ease when your emotions are reeling.
A counselor can help you to process all these difficult emotions and ease your anxiety moving forward.
Keep Moving Forward
As mentioned above, don’t push yourself. That being said, it is also important that you re-enter the world when you are ready. It might feel like a huge deal to leave the house. Take small steps. Don’t plan a busy day. Instead, plan a self-care outing. Get your nails done with a trusted friend or family member who knows what you are struggling with. Go see a movie with your spouse or partner. Take a walk or go for a hike. Attend an exercise class. All of these things can help you to reclaim a sense of calm.
Feeling hopeful might seem like the furthest thing from your mind right now. You are probably feeling hopeless. You might be thinking that it will be impossible to have a healthy baby in the future. But the truth is, you will heal. These feelings, while they will likely stay with you in some ways forever, will subside. You will find the strength to move forward in whatever capacity that may look like for you. Hope can be a powerful ingredient to true healing.
If you are struggling with sadness, hopelessness, depression, and/or anxiety surrounding your loss, there is help. Professionally licensed mental health professionals can help you process all of these feelings in a healthy way. Counselors can give you healthy coping tools and help you to find hope for the future.
Searching For Online Counseling In Pennsylvania?
Counselors at CW Psychological Services are professionally-trained and licensed to help those struggling with pregnancy or infant loss. We have openings for online, or telehealth, therapy appointments. Email us at [email protected] or call us at (610) 308-7575. You don’t have to go through this on your own. We are here for you.