Pregnancy after loss can be extremely challenging. The processes which create a baby are complex and sadly a great many people experience pregnancy loss. Estimates vary, but the commonly estimate is that at least one in four pregnancies end in loss. Most of these losses are very early, but loss can occur at any stage of pregnancy.
Grief is a very normal human emotion. The loss of your baby, for whom you had hopes and dreams, is often intensely shocking. Whether you had been pregnant for a few days, or for many weeks, the pain and distress can be very intense. There are several organisations which offer support and counselling. Some of these focus on specific issues such as ectopic pregnancy, others offer information and support in a wide range of circumstances.
As a complex emotion, grief takes time. There is no set time limit, and in my experience, you never completely “get over” the loss of a loved one. The experience will change you. It is important to remember that the effects of loss are not just on the mother or gestational parent. Partners, intended parents, grandparents to be and siblings grieve too. We all grieve differently and that is OK.
Considering another pregnancy takes courage. Mixed emotions of hope and fear can be exhausting. It is absolutely normal to feel anxious, and you will not be helped by people telling you that “most pregnancies are fine”. You know that isn’t always the case, and it is normal to be worried.
Pregnancy after loss is sometimes referred to as a rainbow pregnancy – referring to beauty that can follow a very dark time.
There can be particularly difficult times, perhaps significant points in the pregnancy (such as the gestation at which your baby died) or significant dates such as when they were due. The need to explain your story to healthcare staff, and perhaps to feel that you need to justify your concerns, can add extra challenges. I am a Trustee of MAMA Academy, the safer pregnancy charity. Their website https://www.mamaacademy.org.uk/ provides offers many useful resources and information about safety of you and your baby in pregnancy and the early days of life.
Continuity of midwifery care has been demonstrated to bring a great many benefits and to reduce risk. A summary can be seen here. The emotional benefits of one to one care and support throughout pregnancy and birth are reported time and again by clients. SANDS (the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death organisation) have been calling for continuity of midwifery care for a considerable time and continue to push for improvements in this respect.
NHS Trusts are “working towards” continuity of midwifery care, but it is challenging to achieve in an understaffed system with many staff working part time. Ask your NHS provider what enhanced care they are able to offer for you in a pregnancy after loss. If continuity of care is not realistically possible, you may chose to choose to employ a private midwife like me, who can be there for you throughout.
As an independent midwife, I offer full midwifery care, including birth at home if that is right for you. I work alongside the NHS and have a great deal of experience of collaborating with NHS colleagues in Sussex and Surrey to achieve the best possible outcome for you. I often meet with people when they are thinking about the possibility of another pregnancy, providing advice and support to achieve their dream whilst acknowledging their pain from the loss they have experienced. Clients have told me that they found great comfort and security in the fact that they knew that I was mindful of their situation, respected significant dates, and asked about and respected their preference whether to talk about the baby/babies who had died as the new pregnancy progressed.
If I am your midwife, I see you much more frequently and for longer than NHS services can provide. Visits usually last more than an hour, giving plenty of time to talk. When you are feeling worried or questions occur to you, I am available for you by phone, text or email – any day, any time. Knowing that you can call me for advice or information which accounts for your particular situation can be hugely reassuring.
The birth of a baby after the loss of their sibling, can be emotionally complicated, likewise the early days and weeks after birth can raise new fears and a range of bittersweet emotions. Whilst you are so happy to have this baby, you inevitably revisit the grief that their sibling is not with you.
If you have other living children, dealing with their questions can be challenging. A book I love is There’s a rainbow baby in mummy’s tummy
If you are considering pregnancy after loss or are already pregnant but feeling very anxious why not call me for a chat to see how I can help you?