Experiencing the Loss of a Baby
Losing a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or perinatal death is a devastating form of loss with unique challenges. In addition to losing a future with the baby, parents have few memories of the child to carry into their own lives. Following the death, parents may go home to a prepared but unused nursery. Many parents find that photos taken and keepsakes such as blankets and baby caps are especially meaningful.
Mothers may experience hormonal changes, shock and numbness, and physical pain for several weeks following the death of a baby. Couples may feel under supported in the loss of a baby. Well-meaning people may make unhelpful comments about the loss being “for the best,” urge them to have another pregnancy or be grateful for other children. Such comments dismiss the loss and ignore the parents’ love for the child who died.
Men and women may grieve the loss of a baby differently. Women may share feelings more easily, show emotions more readily, and experience emotion with greater intensity. Women may be more willing to ask for help, and may report a stronger bond with the baby. Men may talk less and use distraction as a way to cope. They may suppress emotion to be strong or to protect the baby’s mother. Men are more likely to grieve alone and strive to retain independence and masculinity. Finally, men may suffer from less opportunity for a physical attachment to the baby.
As with all losses, changes in relationships are inevitable. For grieving parents, they may be particularly hard. Here are some tips for couples that have lost a baby:
• Recognize that you both are in a lot of pain.
• Know that you may show your pain and feelings in different ways.
• Be patient and caring with each other.
• Try to keep talking about your thoughts and feelings. Don’t shut each other out.
• Allow yourself to grieve.
• Expect a variety of emotions.
• Talk about how you want to remember your baby.
• Obtain grief support within the relationship AND outside the relationship.
Special Resources for Those Who Have Lost a Baby
National Share: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Program is a volunteer support program providing information and care to parents who have lost a pregnancy or infant. More information at http://www.nationalshare.org, 800-821-6819.
Utah Share can be reached at 801-272-5355 or email@example.com.