birth doula

Offering Support Through Miscarriage and Infant Loss

Sad woman .jpg

The loss of a pregnancy is a traumatic event. While it is said that 1 in 4 known pregnancies end in miscarriage, this statistic does not make the loss any less sad or painful for the person experiencing it.

Perinatal loss refers to:

  • Miscarriage – a loss during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy 
  • Stillbirth – a loss after 20 weeks of pregnancy 

We are often told to keep our pregnancy on the down low, at least until after the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage lessens. Not sharing the news of pregnancy is a very personal choice. When pregnancy loss happens, a range of emotions such as numbness and shock, guilt, heartbreak, devastation, and anger often follows it. Choosing to keep it to yourself can feel really isolating, while telling others then having to retract the news can be just as difficult. 

While those around you might be aware of what’s going on, they may not know what to do or say. Should they even talk about it? They may be scared of saying the wrong thing, or maybe they weren’t even supposed to know about the pregnancy. Social support plays a big role in recovery from trauma and grief, so here are some tips on how to be a source of support. 

 

The Basics of Supporting Someone through Loss:

Just listen. Often times, we want to say the right thing to try and fix a sad situation. In loss, there is nothing we can do to fix the grief. Instead, we can be there for the person, and just listen to anything they have to say. 

Be authentic. Be sincere in your reaction. It is okay to tell the person, “I don’t know what to say” or “I am so sorry, I’ve never been through this”. They will appreciate your honesty. Avoid using clichés - they come across as dismissive and minimize the loss.  

Recognize that everyone experiences a pregnancy and loss differently. Avoid sharing your own story or trying to relate to it. The person grieving is the focus.

 

3 A’s of Support in Loss:

Acknowledge the loss. Tell the person, “I am so sorry for your loss”, or “I am so sorry you are going through this”. Behaving as though nothing has happened is not helpful, and can isolate the person. Acknowledging it gives them space to grieve openly with people they trust. 

Allow the person or family time to grieve. Do not set any expectations on how long grief should take, or when they should ‘get over it’. 

Ask the person how they would like to be supported, then be available as much as possible to support them emotionally and with any other needs they may have. 

While the loss of a pregnancy through miscarriage or stillbirth is very personal, the woman and her family do not need to be alone in their grief. If you are aware of the loss, be thoughtful in offering support. You do not have to have gone through this experience yourself to support them. You just need to care. 

Alanna Thompson is a Registered Clinical Counsellor that offers compassionate, counselling support to families in the Comox Valley who have experienced miscarriage or infant loss. 

Alanna Thompson, M.A., R.C.C.

Registered Clinical Counsellor with Perinatal Loss Support Comox Valley

Phone: 250-650-4234

Email: info@cvloss.com

 

So, You Just Had a Baby

It is such a strange but liberating feeling to go from heavily pregnant, to holding your baby in your arms. Suddenly you’re no longer unevenly balanced from carrying a constant, heavy load in front of your body. You're FREE! I’ve always thought it was a bit like taking off skates after you’ve been on the ice for a couple of hours…you know that feeling? It’s a sweet sigh of relief. (I might tie my skates too tight.)

This new freedom might come with some feelings of sadness, but mostly you're enjoying the ease of being able to move, walk, bend, or tie your shoes! And as the early days pass, the busyness builds: the piles of laundry, the  meals needing to be cooked, the dishes needing to be washed, the floors needing to be swept, the toddler needing to be pushed on the swing, and the list goes on, and on. 

But try, if you can, to take a breath, take a break, put the lists down and the aspirations aside, and slow your pace for just this brief space in time. And not because, “you’ll never get this time back”, and “these days will pass you by”; do it for you; do it for your healing; do it for your body, mind, and soul. 

 

You’ve just accomplished a major physical feat, and not just for one or two laborious days, but for 9, long months. I encourage families to try and block out at least two weeks; two weeks of rest, two weeks of zero obligations, two weeks of rooming in, laying low, and gently adjusting. Why? : 

You’re going through an intense, hormonal shift. You’re body is re-regulating it’s hormones. Your emotions might be a bit unstable, your mood might shift, your whole internal endocrine system is adjusting to this life on the outside. 

You’re producing a food supply and learning to use your body to feed a baby; nourishing food, rest, and time, are all necessary pieces to this process. 

You’ve become a whole new unit; perhaps two has become three, or four, or more. Let that sink in a while.

You’re running on a lot less sleep, with much greater demands; you’re everything to one small person, don’t undermine all that you give and do by just being what your baby needs. 

The dinners can be made by someone else. The laundry and dishes will be there tomorrow. The eager visitors can lend a hand. Your loving partner can carry the load for a while. Honour you, relish this time, hold this space for a while, the rest of it can wait. 

{Also - we know a few great doulas that can lend a hand with each and every one of these things, and it’s one of our favourite things to do.}

- Andrea

 

Preparing for Your Birth, Your Way

photo credit: Indy & Feather Photography

photo credit: Indy & Feather Photography

Uncertain, unpredictable, mysterious, terrifying, exhilarating, unknown, intimate, miraculous…There is such a mix of feelings you might have as your birth approaches. You know you can and WILL do this, but you don’t know when or how it will all unfold, and you want to feel prepared! 

Knowledge is one of the most powerful tools you can have at your fingertips as you get ready for the day of your birth, and we can help you gain the understanding of the processes of labour, and comfort measures and tools to feel confident and ready (as ready as you can!) to travel the path to meet your baby. 

Andrea Postal is In Bloom’s Certified Childbirth Educator, and offers both group and private prenatal classes. Private classes allow for a more intimate experience with just you and your partner, as you plan and prepare for your birth, your way. You have the option of making your own ‘group’ with other expectant families in your circle. There are 4 and 8 hour in-home, class options, or you can customize your own curriculum (2 hours or more), to cater to the things that matter to you most.  These classes cover topics including: 

  • Birth Partner Communication
  • Hopes and Wishes for Your Birth Plan
  • Common pregnancy complaints
  • Prenatal testing
  • The anatomy and physiology of the birthing woman 
  • The Labour process and stages of labour 
  • Cesarean birth, and Vaginal Birth after Cesarean
  • Medical and non-medical pain relief options
  • Positions for Labor and Birth and Comfort Measures
  • Common interventions 
  • The Welcoming hour: bonding and feeding 

Whichever option you choose, your childbirth education class is going to be a fun, interactive, hands-on experience that will equip you with the knowledge and resources that will help you have a better birth. Contact us for more information on class options and details. We look forward to working with you!