Pregnancy Loss


BY: Diane Snyder Cowan, MA, MT-BC, CHPCA

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

​As soon as couples find out they’re pregnant, a relationship forms with the unborn child. Pregnant moms are drawn to the windows of maternity shops. Prospective parents pick up little footballs, tiaras and tea sets. Outfits and car seats are carefully selected for the ride home from the hospital. But, all those loving conversations between partners can come to an abrupt halt.

Pregnancy loss generally includes miscarriage, stillbirth, and neo-natal death which occurs in the first 28 days of life. While more and more folks acknowledge the hardship of pregnancy loss, it is generally minimized in our society. For those that have experienced it, there is nothing minimal about it. The symptoms and intensity of grief are the same as any other type of loss. There are also some unique grief issues that accompany pregnancy loss which aren’t present with other types of deaths.There can be an extended physical and hormonal adjustment period for the mom. And there is the potential for future medical risks, as well as genetic and congenital factors.

Couples struggle with whether or not to become pregnant again and if so, when. They may fear that what just happened will happen again. Subsequent pregnancies are often laden with increased fears and anxiety. There is less “bliss” in being pregnant. Moms are hyper vigilant to any unrecognizable physical issues and contact their physician more often. They may not want to tell others they’re pregnant and some experience relief when the pregnancy lasts longer than when the previous baby died. And there are triggers everywhere. The landscape may be dotted with strollers that act as reminders of the loss. For some, it may be difficult to be around other pregnant women or to be excited for family or friends who are pregnant. Others may feel emotionally unable to go to a baby shower or perhaps are being avoided by pregnant friends.

Both the due date and the date-ofdeath can be difficult. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. If you have had a friend or relative miscarry, you can offer support. Begin by acknowledging the loss. Let the person take the lead and if they are not ready to talk, give them their space to grieve. If you are grieving a pregnancy or infant loss, know that families do not
have to grieve alone. If family and friends are unable to support you, there are support groups, on-line communities and healthcare professionals to companion you on this difficult journey.

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