Questions like “Do you have children?” or “How many children do you have” seem harmless but hit us like a two-by-four when we are sitting with loss. May is Maternal Health Awareness, but pregnancy loss does not have a time limit. The care and healing can take days, weeks, months, and even years. By the end of this article, the hope is that you will have tools to help in such a fragile time.
If you have lost a baby, please know you are not alone. I understand the pain because even though I am a mom, I’ve also gone through pregnancy loss. In fact, I lost my third baby as I was finishing this blog. Pregnancy loss can feel lonely but it is more common than we may realize. It occurs in 10 of 100 known pregnancies. While pregnancy loss may be common, it does not make it easy. Feelings of grief, worry, and depression are normal.
Pregnancy loss may bring on something called ambiguous grief. This is the grief we experience when we lose something that isn’t tangible. We lose our dream of being a mother, and our identity as a mom. Grief can lead to periods of sadness as well. When trying to become pregnant again, you might find yourself nervous, anxious, and afraid.
No matter what form of loss you or someone you care about has gone through, or what stage you are in with your pregnancy journey, here are some helpful strategies to try:
- Remaining in the present can help keep you from getting stuck in the past or trying to solve the future. Try to take a savoring walk by using your five senses.
- Starting a gratitude practice can help keep your eyes fixed on all that you have rather than what you do not. In Learn to Live’s Resilience Program, we encourage people to write three good things they are grateful for and their causes.
- Stay connected to others. Find a support group, lean into friends or family, take time to learn positive coping skills, or seek therapy.
- Find time for exercise or gentle movement. Keeping yourself active is one of the best ways to avoid falling into depression.
- Develop good sleep habits. When you are well-rested, you are likely to feel less stressed, are slower to anger, and find it easier to stay focused. Some ways to welcome sleep are to have a cool, dark room and avoid technology within two hours of bedtime.
- Meet yourself with compassion. It can be easy for the inner critic to get loud which can create guilt, shame, and blame. Self-compassion allows you grace to meet yourself with what you need, when you need it.
Healing does not mean forgetting and it does not make your experience any less challenging. It means that you can honor yourself, your journey, and your loss in a way that allows you to continue moving forward.