This week is Baby Loss Awareness Week, an annual week to raise awareness about pregnancy and baby loss. It’s an opportunity for people to come together to share stories and promote understanding and compassion. It’s also an incredibly personal week for anybody who has experienced a loss of this kind.
There is a unique form of grief involved in losing a baby or a pregnancy. Becoming pregnant or a new parent comes with much more than the responsibility of looking after a newborn. It comes with hopes, dreams, and practical planning for a new life path.
I can’t speak for somebody who has lost a baby, but I can speak as somebody who has lost a pregnancy. And it’s important to acknowledge that becoming pregnant means different things to different people. Some people become pregnant after trying to conceive for a long time; for others, it might come as an unplanned surprise; and for some, being pregnant might not be the direction that they want to take in their life. When a loss occurs, we need to recognise the mental and physical toll it can take on us, regardless of our feelings toward our pregnancy.
This week is about breaking the silence around pregnancy and infant loss and seeking support and solace from those around us who may have experienced something similar.
In this blog, I wanted to highlight some ways in which we can both remember our loss and look after ourselves along the way.
Your loss is unique
Probably the most important point to remember is that your loss is unique. Whilst it can be comforting to some to hear that loss – especially during pregnancy – is more common than we might think, it’s not comforting to all. None of us know what another person is truly experiencing, and how much mental and physical energy the pregnancy has taken on somebody. Healing can be found in sharing our experiences with others, but it’s also not expected that we do so.
This week is about breaking the silence around baby and pregnancy loss – which is an incredibly important thing to do, as often we don’t talk enough about personal experiences of loss. That being said – your loss is unique, so your path through the grief will be different from those around you – make sure to listen to your instincts, and if sharing your experience feels stressful, you don’t need to share it. It’s important to note the mental impact that such a loss can take, and if your loss is causing you to experience thoughts of suicide, PAPYRUS is here to support you.
Listen to your body following a pregnancy loss
Your body has been through a lot, both mentally and physically, and you may be feeling as though you’ve done something wrong. If you can, try to treat yourself with the empathy and kindness that you would show to somebody else. Oftentimes, there is no specific reason to explain a miscarriage, and whilst this may feel unsettling, it’s important to recognise this.
Set your own timeline
As I’ve mentioned previously, everybody’s journey to and through pregnancy is unique; whilst others around you may try to conceive quickly following a loss – this might not be the case for you. And that’s OK. As mentioned in the previous point, it’s important to listen to your body and choose the best time for you – if, indeed, this is the path that you want to take.
Try not to compare yourselves to others
Social media is a great place to share updates on your life or find your community. But what glitters is not always gold, and the lives that we see on social media don’t always reflect reality. Heal at your own pace – we are all different, one person’s pregnancy journey is very different to another’s.
Remember that family and friends often mean well
Pregnancy news within family and friend circles is often a time for celebration and eager anticipation. This excitement from those around you can sometimes hinder your own grieving process following a loss. People deal with grief differently and will try to offer their well-meaning advice and guidance on how you should respond or react.
Remember, that this time is about you, and how you need to heal. The journey to healing can be a long one, and whilst the support of friends and family is comforting and important – this is your body and your choice and only you will know what is right for you.
Sometimes, silence may follow a loss. The stigma following pregnancy and baby loss can cause people to close up, and not know what to say or how to react. Try not to take it personally, if you can. Historically, as a society, miscarriage and baby loss aren’t things that have been easy topics to talk about. That’s why Baby Loss Awareness Week is so important as an awareness campaign to smash the stigma surrounding these unique types of loss.
Seek support if you need it
Losing a pregnancy or a baby is traumatic, and we need to take time to recover. There are lots of people around you to support you. If you can:
- Share your feelings with friends and family and let them know how they can best support you.
- Speak with your employer to learn of the support your workplace offers to help you recover.
- Speak with your midwife who can refer you to their dedicated bereavement support offered at your hospital – many hospitals provide an in-house service to support those who have lost a child or pregnancy.
- There are lots of dedicated charities and organisations here to support you, such as Sands, The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, The Lullaby Trust, The Miscarriage Association, Tommy’s, and many more. A comprehensive list of support services can be found on the Baby Loss Awareness Alliance website, here. Sadly, we know that suicide is the fifth most common cause of death during pregnancy and six weeks following birth, and is the leading cause of death in the first year after pregnancy.
PAPYRUS is here to support you if you are experiencing thoughts of suicide. Our trained suicide prevention advisers on HOPELINE247 are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week at 0800 068 4141, via text at 07860 039 967, or email email@example.com