As a perinatal psychiatrist I have sat with hundreds of women over the years after their baby died. This may have happened at 8, 16, 24 weeks or full term.
It’s been an immense privilege to hear these stories. I carry these stories within me and I will never forget any of them.
What do I know from hearing women?
That each woman’s experience is totally and utterly unique to her.
That there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
No timeline to heal.
That you can share as little or as much as you want with friends or family.
But ALL stories deserve to be heard with care, respect, time, kindness and compassion.
Women in my opinion are often poorly supported after a baby loss, not always but often. Many women are given a leaflet or a phone number and asked to call groups for support. Sent home with a memory box in utter shock. Often then having to call someone or leave the house to attend a group feels way too much to do.
We need to reach out to women and their families as professionals and friends/family. Be there. Be able to sit and listen and weep and rage and laugh. Offer comfort. Never ever underestimate the power of doing this, a hug, a held hand, a written note. Simply listening.
Some women want to talk about their baby all the time, some don’t.
Some have and plan a funeral, some don’t.
Some women like photos of their baby displayed at home and some don’t.
Some want to get pregnant straightaway again, some are afraid to have another baby.
There may be an inquest or legal claim involved to negotiate.
Whatever you chose to do or don’t do you can grieve and honour your baby however you want. It’s your baby. You do what feels right for you. Be guided by what you want and what feels right to you.
Pregnancies after loss are invariably tough, often filled with fear and anxiety. Perhaps it’s hard to trust medical professionals. Hard to step foot in a hospital again. Hard to be scanned. Often the next pregnancy is something to be got through and not enjoyed at all.
Extra support should and can be offered, this might be organized by your GP or Bereavement Midwife. It might come from a group such as SANDS or an online forum on Facebook or Instagram. On Instagram @fromtheotherchair is a wonderful source of support as are @arcantenatal.
Also you could look at Tommy’s Tell Me Why Campaign.
The Miscarriage Association have a helpline on 01924 200799 Monday-Friday 9-4pm, as does SANDS 0808 164 3332 firstname.lastname@example.org
To anyone in the midst or aftermath of loss much love to all today.