Julie McKay, FCP
Pregnancy after Loss
We've talked about early miscarriages, healing after miscarriage, and infertility and loss from the man's perspective. But what about the pregnancy after a loss? It can be hard to get excited about the new life growing inside you when your last pregnancy did not end with a baby in your arms. It can be challenging to navigate, and it can feel isolating.
The following quote from Made for This: the Catholic Mom's Guide to Birth really resonated with me:
"Those six short weeks that we had with our baby were so happy. I still possessed a slice of innocence that I'll never recover...So much more than a baby is lost during a miscarriage. It's the loss of hopes and dreams, innocence, joy. For me, it changed every pregnancy after."
What can be done to deal with all the emotions and challenges that come with a pregnancy after a loss? The answer will depend on the individual, but I want to offer some options that may be helpful.
Acknowledge that your emotions and worries are normal and don't dismiss them. Does that mean all of the things you're worrying about will come true? No. But it does mean that it is good to acknowledge what we are feeling and what is weighing on us. It can be tempting to try to push past difficult emotions and avoid them. But it won't make them disappear and can result in them coming out like a flood later.
Find others who will listen to your emotions, worries, and fears. Even though your husband may experience the grief of the loss and the worries of the new pregnancy differently, he can be a great person to share with. This baby is both of yours, and it be very validating and comforting to share the fears of the unknown and the worries of the "what if's." You don't have to go through this alone. Other women and couples who have experienced loss can be great sources of comfort as well. They have been down a similar path and can relate to your experience. I have appreciated the women who checked on me, asked how I'm doing, and offered comfort or a simple "I've been there too, and it's hard."
Find a supportive provider. This one is huge. Find an OB or midwife who will listen to your concerns and worries and not dismiss them. It's ok to ask for reassurance, an additional ultrasound or an extra doppler check. It is so helpful to find a provider who will not fight you on these additional checks. I had to advocate for myself and push to get an additional early ultrasound. Even if you experience pushback, don't be afraid to advocate for yourself or bring someone along to the appointment who can advocate on your behalf.
Don't be afraid to seek out professional help. A therapist can be a very helpful resource. If you are struggling, please reach out. Prenatal depression and anxiety are very real and nothing to ashamed of. You matter, and you don't have to face these challenges alone.
Your practitioner can provide resources and referrals. Don't hesitate to reach out. We are here for you!