Pregnancy and Neonatal Loss
The anticipation and excitement of a pregnancy with hopes and dreams for the future, can change in an instant with the news that your baby has died. Although one in four women experience a miscarriage or stillbirth, pregnancy loss remains a taboo topic.
The end of a pregnancy or the death of your baby represents the loss of a dream, and the grief that accompanies that loss can be overwhelming and painfully difficult to navigate. Women have a particularly heightened vulnerability in their emotional and mental health during pregnancy, which can become further complicated when a pregnancy has ended unexpectedly with no live baby to claim socially and relish in parenting.
Seeing a Psychologist may assist in the journey by helping you to:
- Acknowledge what has been lost and validate your role as a parent;
- Acknowledge and process your grief and sense of loss- how you feel about your body, the reasons you understand surrounding your baby’s death, your labour/delivery, leaving hospital empty handed, your relationship with your partner, returning to work/life as you knew it, and how your life has changed;
- Facilitate a healthy expression of your grief and find ways to meaningfully connect with your baby that has died;
- Receive support to manage siblings and extended family members in their grief;
- Learn coping strategies to manage grief and the rollercoaster of emotions that follow;
- Learn how to take care of your emotional and psychological needs at this time of major loss;
- Manage the expectations you have of yourself and getting to know the ‘new normal’;
- Enhance your communication skills with your partner to help keep you connected throughout this emotionally demanding time;
- Change some of the beliefs you have about yourself that might be prohibiting a healthy expression of grief and interfering with the relationship you have with your baby;
- Manage a subsequent pregnancy after a loss (see Antenatal and Postnatal Depression/Anxiety);
- Process and be given support around a termination of pregnancy (for medical and for social reasons).
rednose.org.au offers grief and loss support to any person affected by the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or child during pregnancy, birth, infancy or childhood.
miscarriagesupport.org.au is an organisation run by the Pink Elephants Support Network that offers peer support for families affected by an early pregnancy loss.