Life after pregnancy loss is hard. You no longer feel like yourself and life as you knew it ceases to exist. There’s a lot to discover on the journey ahead after the unthinkable has happened. 1 in 4 pregnancies will result in a loss and you’re never prepared for something of this tragic nature to happen. Learning how to adjust to life after losing a baby is hard. What happens after? What should you expect? How do you pick up the million pieces your heart has broken into and keep on going? Here are 5 things that no one tells you about pregnancy loss.
1) You may feel like you’re in a fog for a while
It’s common to be more forgetful, even with small things that seem like they should be easy to remember. Thinking can seem like a lot of work and concentration even harder. Difficulty making every day decisions, feeling confused easily, and regular lapses in memory are common experiences. As unpleasant as these are, it does get better over time. Grief causes immense stress which then floods the body with cortisol and causes these symptoms along with headaches, anxiety, depression and many others. Be gentle and patient with yourself, it will get better as you do small things that help to lower your stress.
Action: Do small things to help alleviate your stress. Small things often can have a huge impact on your recovery.
2) You might have difficulty sleeping
Sleep may feel like an illusion rather than something attainable. You may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep after experiencing pregnancy loss. You may even have flashbacks or recurring thoughts about your loss. An important thing to keep in mind is that sleep is medicine. I recommend the use of guided meditations or imagery to promote sleep.
Action: Protect your sleep as best as you can. Use guided meditation to improve your sleep hygiene and try going to bed earlier.
3) You may experience lactation after loss
Many moms experience lactation after loss which can be quite traumatic for a grieving mother. Your experience may vary depending on how far along you were, usually 20 weeks or more but most women feel unprepared for this. Your breasts may feel swollen and tender. There are options to help you manage any engorgement and physical pain you may experience with lactating after loss which include suppressing lactation or donating your milk.
Action: You do have options and anything you choose to do is fine. You can pump and donate your breast milk to a milk bank or check with your local hospital NICU. Other resources for managing lactation after loss can be found here.
4) Bereavement doulas can be life changing
You probably know a lot about postpartum doulas and far less about bereavement doulas. A bereavement doula is someone who provides physical, emotional and informational support to families experiencing pregnancy loss. The support is individualized, based on the gestation at the time of the loss and what the family’s unique needs are. Services include anything from attending a doctor’s appointment to confirm the loss to funeral planning following a stillbirth.
No parent plans for the death of their baby but the reality is that it does happen. It’s far better to have resources readily available should you need them, than to need them and be overwhelmed at the thought of gathering resources during a crisis.
Action: Find a bereavement doula here. I pray that you will never need one but if you do, you can be well prepared by having the right resources to best support you.
5) People will treat you differently
Unfortunately, we live in a society that doesn’t know how to handle pregnancy loss very well. People say things that cause unintentional harm and sometimes they say nothing at all which is equally hurtful.
I’ve created a comprehensive guide to help and your loved ones navigate support and communication after loss. If you’re a mom living with the pain of losing a baby, this guide is helpful for you. It’s normal to not be able to find the words to express the kind of support you need. This guide does all the work for you by providing your support system with what they need to give gentle and compassionate support to you.
Action: Get the downloadable Comprehensive Guide to Supporting Friends and Family After Pregnancy Loss. Having meaningful support is an important part of your journey and your healing.