Pregnancy After Loss
Pregnancy after loss is a common part of the grief journey for many parents who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. Fifty-80% of couples become pregnant again within 12-18 months after their loss. This can be a challenging time for grieving parents who often sway between joy and grief combined with anxiety during their subsequent pregnancy.
While everyone’s journey is unique, here are some ideas that might be helpful for you if you are pregnant or considering pregnancy after your loss:
Acknowledge that pregnancy after loss is difficult. It's helpful to provide yourself with compassion and nurturance throughout your journey.
Remember that it's okay to still grieve and be sad about your loss(es) during your current pregnancy.
Understand that you will have an array of emotions during this difficult time. It's normal to feel afraid and anxious one minute and hopeful the next.
Realize that this is a different pregnancy, with a different baby, and a different outcome.
Surround yourself with an empathetic support system including family, friends, other pregnant after loss parents, mental health providers, and those on your pregnancy care team.
Know that you are the expert of your own body, baby, and pregnancy. You have the right to be believed by your healthcare providers. If your concerns are not taken seriously, you have the right to find a doctor or midwife who will respect and listen to your needs.
Educate yourself about the mental and physical challenges of pregnancy after loss and how your previous loss affects your decisions in this pregnancy.
Plan for the birth experience you choose and hope for, understanding that this is part of the healing process.
Seek reassurance from others when needed and allow yourself to turn down reassurance from others when needed.
Decline invitations to baby showers, birthday parties, holidays, and any other event that is triggering for you. It's not rude or self-centered—it's self-preservation.
Accept that remembering your baby who died is a healthy way for you to separate this current pregnancy from your past pregnancy.
Give yourself permission to celebrate or not celebrate this pregnancy.
Believe that you deserve this pregnancy and baby.
Allow yourself to let go of guilt and feel hope and joy for this new life you carry inside.
For more information and peer support to help navigate the journey through pregnancy after loss, please visit Pregnancy After Loss Support. Thank you to contributing author Lindsey Henke, founder, Pregnancy After Loss Support.
WHY IS MENTAL HEALTH DURING A SUBSEQUENT PREGNANCY SO IMPORTANT?
Women pregnant after loss have higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to women with previous live births.
Mental health issues can affect the health and safety of a baby during a subsequent pregnancy and, if untreated, may negatively impact bonding with this new baby.
More information about the impact of pregnancy and infant loss on mental health can be found on our website: www.rtzhope.org/mentalhealthafterloss
“Pregnancy after loss—the hardest thing I’ve ever done
after burying my child.”
Lindsey Henke, Founder of PALS