For many women and families, pregnancy loss is a painful part of family building. Here at DC Moms Blog, we want to do our best to support families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. We hope the following information will support you or help you support a friend in coping with pregnancy and infant loss.
What to Expect Physically after Pregnancy or Infant Loss?
- Physical recovery following a pregnancy loss can look and feel different depending on when the loss occurred and what type of medical management was involved. Either way, your body needs time to rest and recover.
- Hormone levels take time to stabilize following a loss. Anytime the body goes from pregnant to not pregnant, there are hormonal shifts.
- Your body may continue to look pregnant for some time after your loss.
What to Expect Emotionally after Pregnancy or Infant Loss?
- There is no right way to feel. Grief is very personal in this way. You may have an immediate emotional response, you might feel numb, or may experience strong emotions in the days, weeks, or months that follow.
- Some women describe a sense of disconnection or anger toward their bodies or feel a sense of bodily betrayal.
- Many people experience difficulties in their relationships with their spouse or partner following a loss.
- It is common to get emotionally “triggered” after a loss by seeing a pregnant woman or baby, attending a child’s birthday party, or going back to your OB’s office.
Coping with Pregnancy and Infant Loss
- Coping with pregnancy and infant loss takes time. There is no roadmap for how long you “should” grieve, and the feelings you experience may shift and change.
- How long you grieve for and what that grief feels like is not dependent on how far along you were in your pregnancy.
- Allow yourself to feel the range of emotions that arise.
- Try to take it day by day, or if you need to, hour by hour.
- Many women find it helpful to concretize or memorialize the loss. Some women wear physical reminders of their loss. Others make memory books or art. Some have ceremonies. Some name their babies.
- Share or don’t share your loss with whoever you want to and however you want to. It’s up to you.
- It may be helpful to connect with others who have experienced a loss. Support groups, whether in-person or internet-based, can be helpful.
- Loss can be hard on your relationship with your partner. He or she may experience the loss differently and have a different way of expressing grief. Try to make space for each other’s processes.
- It’s OK to find joy, to laugh, to smile. Embrace the moments of happiness as they come.
- If you find you are struggling with your grief or that you are becoming depressed or anxious, consider seeking professional support from a trained therapist.
How to Support a Friend Through Pregnancy and Infant Loss
- Keep checking in. Keep showing up. Make it clear that you are present and available.
- Try not to offer advice or platitudes; just listen. Allow and encourage your friend to grieve however she needs to.
- Offer to watch your friend’s children, take care of her pets, water her plants, and bring her a meal. Any action you take that gives her some time and space is helpful.
- Remember and check in on important dates that will be challenging for your friend, such as her expected due date or the date of the loss.
- Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say or how to help. That’s OK. You can even say that. If you need some help finding the right words, these cards were created specifically for perinatal loss.