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The Loss of a Baby: support at the most difficult time

Baby Loss

The loss of a baby at any stage is devastating, with a huge impact on the whole family. The loss can be profound, also feeling a huge sense of loss over the life you never got to share with them, milestones that won’t be reached and a future you dreamed of. For this reason many people find this overwhelming when faced with.

Nothing can make the loss of a baby feel okay. You may feel that people around you are unsure what to say, so say nothing at all which can be hurtful, or may say things you find insensitive or distressing. This can lead you to become isolated and feel you have no support in coping with this awful time.

As unlikely as it may seem in the days, weeks and months, people do find a way to cope with their loss. The hospital or midwife may have supported you with photos, footprints or a memory box if your baby was born. If you have lost your baby in pregnancy, you may have a scan or pregnancy test picture. It may be you have none of these things and need to find a way to create a special memory to your baby.

How to manage sharing the news?

There is no right or wrong on how to do this, but it may feel too difficult to do, so it is okay to ask someone who feels more able to share on your behalf. Ultimately if you have lost your baby, how you (and other close family members) feel is more important than others reactions. We hear that many people worry about the news upsetting others, and it likely will as this is very upsetting news, however that is not something you can take responsibility for, or need to manage.

Talking to children about baby loss

Tommy’s the baby loss charity advise: “Use clear words – for example, it's better to say the baby died rather than they're sleeping or lost. Reassure them that it was nobody's fault. Don't be afraid to get upset in front of your child – this can reassure them that it's ok for them to show their emotions.” There is useful information on talking to children about death on Winston's Wish

How to manage reminders/triggers?

Unfortunately, there will be reminders all around you, you may have prepared a nursery or bought a pram or clothes, and you will certainly see pregnant women or people with babies and older children. This can all feel a constant reminder of the loss. It is understandable that these will feel distressing, and you may want to avoid them. However, avoidance won’t remove your pain and will take you away from things that could be helpful to you such as friends, family, or previously enjoyed interests.

Looking after yourself

Accepting that this is painful is important, don’t give yourself a hard time for how you are feeling. At times our feelings can be wide ranging – anger, guilt, fear, shame, sadness are all normal reactions and we may feel everything all at once. Taking time to allow these feelings can let our mind make sense of what has happened, and consider how we want to live our lives with the memory or thought of our baby alongside us. It may be you need support, from loved ones or professionals, to challenge thoughts of blaming yourself, fear for the future, or anger that are keeping you feeling stuck. A baby dying can shake our existing belief systems, and you may choose to speak to a faith leader if appropriate to work through what this means for you and your ongoing faith.

While it is easy to let self-care slip, looking after yourself is crucial to be able to move forwards. Basic self care may look like three meals a day, showering regularly or taking a walk. You may want to ask for help with keeping on top of tasks at home or supporting with childcare for other children at home. Taking time to ensure you are fed, watered and rested will at least give you the physical energy to face the day. If able, you could engage in interests, whether that be a favourite TV programme, time out of the house, meditation, yoga or exercise. All of these things will help your mood and give you the ability to cope with the huge feelings you are experiencing.

Anniversary care

Anniversaries are a particularly difficult reminder. There may be several around pregnancy milestones and birth or early days so it can feel quite constant. Consider how to take extra care of yourself, allow yourself time to feel sad and reflective, to remember your baby in whatever way feels right for you and your family and remember there is no right or wrong at this time. Rituals that allow us to remember or commemorate an anniversary or birthday can be helpful but can also feel too painful to contemplate. Think ahead of time what you would like to do, but remember if when the day comes this doesn't feel right, that is okay too. Go gently.

Check out our post on looking after yourself at Christmas which has tips that can be useful at any time of reminders

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