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Couple's Portrait

Coping With Reproductive Loss

Following infertility or a reproductive loss, you may experience emotions unlike those you have experienced before. You may no longer trust your body, your health, or the belief that pregnancy and starting a family will be a given. You may feel helpless or out of control. These emotions can be intense and scary. Even when you gradually resume your usual activities and get back to your routine, you may be left with a sense that something in your has forever changed and wonder if you will ever feel like yourself again.

 

If you or someone you know is experiencing miscarriage, pregnancy loss, or infertility, help is available. Call 715.634.2681 or email  programdirector@nwnewlife.org to

find out more.

 

 

Normalizing Emotional Experiences

Regardless of the specific circumstances surrounding your loss, grief is a normal and expected reaction to a loss, including pregnancy or reproductive loss. The first several weeks following a loss are the worst and most intense. It does get better slowly and over time as you begin to accept your new normal. There is no right or wrong way to feel during this time. Remember that everyone grieves and heals differently, even among partners.

 

If you were carrying a pregnancy or trying to conceive, the emotional experiences are often compounded by the physical changes in your body. If you were taking fertility medications, many of your hormone levels are probably out-of-whack. If you experience a first-trimester miscarriage, your hormones will likely be shifting back to how they were before the pregnancy. The further along you were in your pregnancy, the more likely that your body was preparing for a new baby and all the necessary changes that go with it. You may experience physical symptoms from hormonal changes and emotional distress. These symptoms include:

  • Fatigue

  • Disrupted sleep

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Loss of appetite

  • Frequent crying

  • Lactation

  • Grief

 

Grief is what happens when someone we love dies. Of course, you loved your baby even before knowing him or her. So it is understandable that you feel the way that you do. There is no “right” way to grieve. So try to be accepting of any and all feelings.

 

After a reproductive loss, it may seem like the whole world is pregnant. You may have friends or family members who are pregnant. These constant triggers may be painful and re-open memories of your own loss. Eventually, you will begin to integrate the loss into your life and make meaning from a devastating situation. Here is some emotional distress that parents experience immediately following a loss and after several weeks.  

 

IMMEDIATE GRIEF SYMPTOMS INCLUDE

  • Feeling numb

  • Disbelief

  • Profound sadness

  • Guilt

  • Anxiety

  • Anger

  • Isolation

  • Reliving the events

  • Concern about the future

 

AFTER THE FIRST SEVERAL WEEKS

  • Intense emotional distress (such as depression, anxiety, and anger)

  • Grief

  • Avoidance of painful reminders

  • Fixation on the loss

  • Fear about the future

  • Loneliness

  • Strained relationships

 

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, help is available.  Contact us today. 

The Healing Process 

Grieving Styles: Men and Women Grieve Differently

Heal Together By:

How can I help myself grieve?

When do I need professional help?

Usually, women are expressive about their loss and more likely to seek support from others. Men, on the other hand, tend to be more action-oriented and engage in problem-solving. Your partner may seem like he is skipping over his grief and instead, focused on making arrangements. This may feel like your partner is not being sensitive to your needs. Remember that this loss happened to both of you. It is okay to talk to the other one about it. Communication is very important during this time as it lets both partners know that their grief is normal and inevitable. 

  • Understanding that grief is normal, natural, and personal

  • Being sensitive to each other’s needs and feelings

  • Keeping communication open and sharing thoughts and feelings

  • Accepting and being respectful of different coping styles

As a grieving mother, your sense of loss may be more acute than your partner’s and you may need more time to mourn the loss. Expressing your emotions in an open and supportive environment will help you to understand the unimaginable. Eventually, you will be able to accept your feelings of grief and integrate this loss. Here are some things that you can do to help yourself get through this difficult time:

  • Talk to supportive people about how you feel

  • Join a support group to meet other parents who understand what you are going through; this may help you feel less isolated

  • Be honest about what you need; your friends and family want to help, but may not know how

  • If you were far along in your pregnancy and people knew that you were expecting, select one person from each group to tell what happened if you don’t feel like you can talk about it. Remember, you can still shape the message and control how much is shared with others

  • Check in with your partner often and communicate openly

  • If you don’t feel ready to participate in family events or special occasions, give yourself permission to sit out. Your friends and family will understand

  • Integrate the loss into your life, make something for your baby, such as an album or plant a tree in your baby’s memory, anything that helps you to recognize and make meaning of your loss

  • Be easy, kind, and accepting of yourself as you heal

Of course, it is natural and expected for you to grieve. But grieving can feel uncomfortable. If you are feeling stuck in your sadness, grief, anger, or guilt due to a reproductive loss, therapy can help. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you stayed in bed all day, every day, for several weeks?

  • Are your emotional experiences interfering with your ability to work, take care of yourself or your other children, or engage in basic self-care?

  • Are you having frequent and intrusive flashbacks or nightmares about the loss?

  • Do you have any intent to act on suicidal thoughts or do you plan to harm yourself?

  • Are you engaging in any other self-destructive acts?

How Can Friends and Family Support?

The loss of a child, regardless of the child’s age, is one of the deepest pains we can experience. Often parents, who are experiencing the loss, want to turn to the baby’s grandparents, other family members, and friends, but can’t identify the kind of support that they need. Family and friends often feel helpless when someone close to them experiences a reproductive loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility).  As family and friends, here is what you can do:

  • Be in the space to listen. A person who has experienced a loss may want to share their story over and over as a way for them to remember their baby. Show that you care by listening attentively and engaging in good body language. Know when to be silent, sometimes a grieving person just wants someone to listen to them.

  • Be prepared to talk about the baby. Don’t be afraid to say the baby’s name (if a name was given) or talk about the loss to help the grieving person heal.

  • Be aware that grief has physical reactions, as well as emotional reactions. Physical reactions include poor appetite, disturbed sleep, restlessness, low energy, crying, and other pain. Emotional reactions may include anxiety, persistent fear, panic, nightmares, despair, loneliness, and isolation. Encourage your friend or family member to reach out when they are experiencing these feelings.

  • Be present. Because we do not have control over a pregnancy loss, women who experience this can feel anxious, fearful, or panicky. Try not to leave a grieving mother alone. This will reduce her feelings of anxiety and loneliness.

  • Understand grief. It is important to realize that grief is an individual process that is not bound by an exact time frame. You may think that the individual should be “over it” by now or “be strong”, but the person who experiences a loss will never be over it and no one wants to earn strength in this way. Instead, they find ways to live with the memories and pain associated with the loss.

  • Something more. Sometimes grief can turn into depression, which would warrant professional help. The difference between grief and depression is hope. If you feel hopeless, your grief may have turned into depression and you may need therapy.

  • Reassure the grieving person that their feelings are natural and necessary for healing. Remember that specific dates and anniversaries may trigger an emotional response. Be sensitive during these times and encourage the grieving person to talk about their loss.

  • Take care of yourself too. A reproductive loss can impact the entire family. This may have been a grandchild or niece or nephew that you lost. This is your loss too. Give yourself the opportunity to mourn and to heal. 

Reach out today to receive caring support.

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