Miscarriage, pregnancy loss, stillbirth, SIDS — all terms that cause devastation and can rob a woman and her partner of innocence regarding pregnancy. When the time to try to conceive again arrives and a positive response shows up on a pregnancy test, it is often not the same experience before. There is caution, a tentativeness, perhaps even overwhelming doubt or fear along with any joy and hope felt.
The new pregnancy may be held as only a possibility. Medical terms may creep in as a buffer against disappointment: “viable pregnancy”, “hcG levels”, “progesterone supplementation”, “high risk obstetrics”. Agonizing waits to get in to a health care provider to receive an ultrasound and “see” a baby — your baby. Leaving the ultrasound visit and immediately feeling the worry and doubt building until the next blood tests come back, the next ultrasound visit.
Wanting reassurance from a medical standpoint is understandable and normal. Wanting reassurance is understandable and normal.
This doubt and worry may make some people choose to not tell their families or friends about the pregnancy. “Let’s wait until we get past week X”. If a previous loss was farther along in pregnancy or possible even a baby born still, all preparations may be held until after the baby arrives. Major decisions concerning a birth team or classes may be avoided or skipped altogether.
If you have suffered a loss, I want to tell you how very sorry I am. If you are pregnant after a loss, or even multiple losses, know that you can find reassurance beyond an ultrasound or normal blood test.
Consider sharing your pregnancy news with close family members or friends. You know the ones — the ones who didn’t make thoughtless remarks such as “You can try again.” or “God needed another angel”. The ones who maybe sent you flowers or a card, attended a ceremony for your baby, or simply listened. Lean on them for reassurance and support. Allow them to share in your joy and your trepidation. Talk about your feelings, hopes, fears.
Think purposefully and positively. Every day tell yourself the ways you are taking care of your body– prenatal vitamins, proper amounts of water, healthy exercise. Focus on the things you can control. Engage in soothing activies, such as drawing, journaling, meditating — whatever appeals to you and will help your serenity.
When you feel ready, find outside support in the form of a local or online mommies group. Talk to local birth professionals; many are trained to comfort families coping with a loss, pregnancy after loss, have experience professionally and perhaps, personally. Seek those who make you feel uplifted.
Take each day at a time. As fears or anxiety arise, take a moment to acknowledge your emotions. Discuss them or write them down. Identify and name your feelings — fear, guilt, apprehension, sadness, etc. They may be along for the ride, but they need not be the ones driving your life. Remind yourself that this pregnancy is different from previous pregnancies. As each labor is different, so is each pregnancy.
As your pregnancy progresses, enroll in a prepared childbirth class, particularly if you were unable to attend one in previous pregnancies. A class geared towards trusting birth and women’s bodies can go a long way in helping reclaim some of your confidence, as well as providing you with knowledge and information.
If you feel you must maintain some reticence or distance from the pregnancy, be easy on yourself. Do not beat yourself up or think negatively of yourself (or your partner) if either or both of you cannot fully invest in 100% excitement towards your new pregnancy. It is not a failing on your part to have concerns or fears. Take small steps and take any opportunity to expand your sense of empowerment and ability.
It would be easy to only consider highly interventive and medicalized choices regarding pregnancy and birth management. After a loss, often the only goal is have a “healthy baby”. In making certain decisions and choices, however, remember to honor yourself, your body, and your baby by exploring your labor and birth options.
All rights reserved: Kimberly Sebeck, CLD, CCCE, Knoxville Doula 2010