Help Handling Pregnancy After A Miscarriage Or Stillbirth

In part two of this article, Ann Douglas, author of The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby, shares her experience with pregnancy after loss and provides tips to help moms stay sane while surviving this emotional and stressful time. (Read part one here.)
Ann Douglas

More Mom's the Word by Ann Douglas Peace at last
Nine days after his due date, my son, Ian, made his much anticipated entrance. His labor was far more difficult than the ones I had experienced when giving birth to my first three children. I was tense and worried about his well-being throughout the delivery and consequently unable to rely on any of the relaxation techniques that had served me so well the first three times around.

When it finally came time to push, I didn't care if I ended up with a ten inch tear: I wanted him to have him safely in my arms . He took his first breath and made those precious newborn snuffling sounds. I thought I would cry, but I was strangely numb-exhausted not only from the delivery, but also from the nine months that preceded it. It wasn't until a few hours later when he and I were finally alone that I was able to celebrate his safe arrival with tears of joy.

How to Stay Sane
If you've previously lost a baby, your pregnancy may not feel like nine months; it may feel like an eternity. Here are some tips on staying sane from the time your pregnancy test comes back positive until your baby arrives.

Find an extra-supportive caregiver
Make sure that your doctor or midwife understands that you will need extra reassurance-and perhaps even extra prenatal visits-during your subsequent pregnancy. If your caregiver doesn't appear to be particularly supportive, consider finding a new doctor or midwife.

Acknowledge your feelings
Be prepared to experience a mix of emotions-joy because you are pregnant again, guilt because you are feeling happy about being pregnant rather than continuing to grieve the loss of your previous baby, fear about losing another baby, anger at people who minimize your previous loss and/or make insensitive comments, and so on. These emotions can be difficult to sort through on your own. Consider joining a support group for women who are experiencing pregnancy after loss or seeing a therapist who specializes in grief support.

Other ideas
Join a discussion group
Consider joining the Subsequent Pregnancy After Loss (SPALS) support group-an e-mail list for women who are contemplating pregnancy after loss or who are currently pregnant after losing one or more babies.

Take things day by day
Purchase a pregnancy calendar or a copy of A.Christine Harris' excellent book The Pregnancy Journal and mark the passage of each day.

Consider your birthing location
If you will be giving birth in the same hospital where you lost your previous baby, find out if it would be possible to schedule a private tour of the birthing unit before you go into labor. If you have particularly strong feelings about wanting to give birth in the same birthing room or a different birthing room, put this information in your birth plan and/or have your caregiver note it in your prenatal records. While it may not always be possible for the hospital to accommodate your wishes, it doesn't hurt to ask.

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Tags: stillborn

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