While pregnancy loss can feel anything but normal, statistics reveal how common it really is. Around 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.
While miscarriage and stillbirth remain uncomfortable topics in many social circles, sharing that you have mixed emotions about being pregnant again is also surprisingly taboo.
Some friends and family will expect you to be nothing but blissfully happy that you have another chance. But those of us who experience pregnancy after miscarriage or stillbirth know that a new pregnancy brings all the feels.
You’re not the only one simultaneously feeling:
- Fear of the unknown
So how do you ride this rollercoaster while waiting for your new arrival?
Enlist the right care provider
Having a trusted and supportive maternity care provider is always vital. And even more so after a previous loss.
Ideally, look for continuity of care – where you see the same person at every visit. They get to know you well and you don’t have to continually rehash your story. Continuity of care midwives even visit you at home in the first weeks after birth.
If you feel less than fully supported, it’s not too late to consider a different care provider.
Educating yourself further about pregnancy and birth can also help you feel empowered. Look into all the types of birth classes available in your area or online - not just the standard one run by your hospital.
If you also need expert support with anxiety or grief, talk with your GP, midwife, a perinatal psychologist or PANDA.
Take opportunities to celebrate milestones
Many women experiencing a turmoil of emotions in pregnancy find it helps to take things day by day, celebrating each step.
As one woman who had experienced 3 miscarriages explained to researchers : “It’s 1 day at a time, that’s how we live - 1 day at a time…and I don’t think it’s a bad thing because we are appreciating that emotions can change from day to day…I try not to think too far ahead because I get overwhelmed with things.”
Some special ways to mark different stages of your pregnancy include:
- taking weekly photos of your growing belly
- planning a fun pregnancy announcement (a bun in the oven?)
- buying new bump-friendly clothing or self-care products
- booking a baby moon for a certain stage (or multiple stages!)
- adding sentimental items to the nursery
- organising a professional maternity photoshoot
- writing a letter to your baby
Leaning on friends…and avoiding those who don’t get it
Research shows us that most pregnant women who had a previous loss need their friends and family to understand and recognise what they’re going through.
However, it can be difficult to manage others’ worries, or insensitive reactions, when you’ve already got a lot going on yourself. So it can make sense to wait until it feels “safe” to share the news with certain people.
On the other hand, many women know they’ll need support no matter what happens. Or they’re keen to reduce the stigma of talking about miscarriage. So they share the news early and widely.
It’s helpful to tell those in the know how they can support you. Does that mean coming with you to appointments or just lending an ear? Also give them the heads up about potential triggers, such as baby showers or pushy relatives. (Like that Aunty who’s always reminding you that your eggs are ageing by the second.)
Remember that you’re not alone
Worry about your pregnancy is only natural after a previous loss. As one mum told researchers: “I was really anxious. I wasn’t sleeping properly, you worry about everything you eat, everything you drink.”
Have you tried mentioning your previous loss to women who might have been there too? You can often find solidarity in the shared experience you uncover.
For more structured assistance, SANDS offers various options. There are pregnancy loss support groups for women and men, as well as a phone line, live chat, and email support.
Most importantly, be gentle with yourself during this time. Accept that however you’re feeling is valid.
The countless women who have gone before you can testify to how many precious moments there are to come.
By Louise Wedgewood