This article serves to provide support resources for mothers and families who are currently pregnant after having endured a previous pregnancy or infant loss.
It is extremely important to be aware that a subsequent pregnancy can likely bring with it heightened fears and anxieties. Some things to consider (22):
- While there seems to be variability in professional opinion on the best time to try to conceive again following a pregnancy loss, many professionals recommend allowing one subsequent menstrual cycle to pass, to help ensure the uterus is clear of any fragments, possibly from the placenta.
- Parents need to be empowered to make pregnancy decisions on their own timeline. They already feel like they have lost so much power over what has happened to them.
- Mothers who conceive quickly may have a tendancy to believe that the new baby will help to repair a lot of the expectations lost with the previous baby’s death. Moms who are due around the time of their previous baby’s anniversary (stillbirthday) are at particular risk of experiencing such feelings (1995 Child Bereavement Trust, UK).
- Other studies suggest that getting pregnant right away may allow the strongest of grief feelings to dissipate sooner.
- Guarded emotions, heightened anxiety, a tendency to mark off time by waiting for particular pregnancy milestones to come and go, and a need to seek out or avoid particular behaviors are common ways of coping with pregnancy after a loss (Syracuse University, 1999). This is true whether or not the mother has sought out, learned, and has attempted to or is working through medical reasons for her losses.
- Support groups can be very helpful in providing support to women going through pregnancy after a loss. They can help them to recognize that the others are going through the same experience, remember the babies who have died, learn new coping skills, and begin to relate to their living babies. Please see our article on various websites, including online groups (Grief Journeys has a private group for “Rainbow Pregnancies” that is highly recommended by stillbirthday).
- Bereaved parents who subsequently give birth need to consider the place of the stillborn or miscarried child in the family and the relationship of the children who were born before the stillborn/miscarried child to those who arrive afterward.
The above information is borrowed from the work of Ann Douglas, Author, Speaker of Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths Converance from the Still Unanswered, Always Remembered slideshow (marked by number)
Other helpful ideas:
- Read other stories from stillbirthday, including subsequent pregnancies AND subsequent “rainbow” BIRTH stories!
- Read our article “Your Subsequent Pregnancy” which has an invitation for you to share your experiences here at stillbirthday
- Some mothers feel reservation about sharing the news of their subsequent pregnancy for fear that either she or others will be waiting for “bad news” to follow. Consider if it is more important to prevent having to retract the good news, or if it is more important to have support around you to reinforce the joy and encouragement of the pregnancy and to have “just in case” for emotional support if you do experience another loss. This is a personal decision that needs to be discussed with your husband.
- Consider purchasing an iBirth app, Positive Pregnancy app, Sprout app or other similar device to give you updates on your pregnancy and other helpful features like an app-to-keepsake-book.
- Consider using a fetal heart monitor at home.
- Visit Count the Kicks
- Consider using a fetal kick count chart.
- Discuss your fears with your provider (midwife or OB).
- our threatened miscarriage has some tips that may be helpful
- facts/stats on pregnancy loss can be assuring
- there are some natural fertility items such as stones, charms, books and spells in our keepsake list.
- Many mothers feel more comfortable in their subsequent pregnancies after they’ve reached two milestones: reaching the second trimester, and reaching the same gestational age at which they previously experienced a loss.
- The hormones of pregnancy can serve to magnify hidden feelings. Pregnancy can also serve to magnify the feelings of grief. If you feel that you are experiencing heightened loneliness, anger, or dread, consult your provider along with your doula, and consider utilizing our long term support resources or joining our mentorship program.
- Some mothers prefer to plan a more medicalized birth for susequent pregnancies, in an effort to prevent a loss. Please discuss these plans and your reasons for them with your provider.
- Some mothers experience emotional dystocia during the labors of their subsequent children – an otherwise unexplainable delay during the birthing process, which may be contributed to fears or memories of delivering a miscarried or stillborn baby.
- Consider using the Farewell Celebrations suggestions at any time after your loss and the Long Term Support resources to work through any residual fears and anxieties.
- Consider partnering with one of our mentors who can provide emotional encouragement through this time.
- Any of our doulas would be happy to work with you through this pregnancy and birth as well. Our doulas know how to work with medically involved births, can lower the chances of unnecessary interventions, and can help you work through fears that may be prompting you to seek a more medicalized birth.
- Hosting a Mothers Workshop can be a great way to address the complex feelings of pregnancy after loss.
Special books to help bring encouragement during this time
Finally, if it is needed, we have special information on having multiple losses