Last Tuesday marked the end of this year’s baby loss awareness week.
Unfortunately in many ways it would seem that infant loss is still quite a taboo subject and therefore bereaved parents may find it hard to talk to family and friends about how they are feeling due to a fear of upsetting them. For some, the traumatic details of what you have been through are just too upsetting for them to hear.
Parents of an infant who has died, either through still birth or neo natel death may need or benefit from being able to talk to someone about their whole experience without fear of being judged.
Any kind of bereavement is of course upsetting to those that are left behind, but the loss of a baby, seems so much harder to accept, when such a young life is taken. So many can be affected by this devastating loss.
For the mother, who has carried the baby inside her and felt the baby grow, move, even form a little personality of their own, made plans for their future, looked forward to making memories to then suddenly have all of this taken away can feel unbearable. And if the baby has died whilst in the womb the mother has the daunting task of having to give birth to that baby, while not knowing how they will look, or as a mother how they are going to feel.
The trauma may continue, to have to say goodbye to that baby, and to leave he or she at the hospital, and to not be leaving with a car seat and the precious cargo and as you walk out you are surrounded by proud parents doing just that. Once you arrive home, you have the nursery to face, a room that you have spent time preparing, clothes and toys, arranged neatly. And of course there is the physical side, mum had a bump and now has no bump but no baby. Their milk may come in, their body may have changed and may have other physical signs of giving birth that may be painful and will need time to heal.
The other parent of this child also had the exciting future to look forward to, suddenly shattered. They have also had to deal with watching their partner, having to go through childbirth. This of course can be a very stressful experience for a partner at the best of times but if it is known that the baby has died this must add to the trauma. And they of course, have the devastating experience of having to say good-bye to their baby too and to arrive home without their child. A lot of partners feel they need to be strong and this can be a hard pressure to bear. It may also be expected for them to return to work quite quickly, as they seemingly do not have the physical affects that need to be healed. Again what a pressure for the partner, to have to return to work, almost like nothing has changed.
The grand parents of the new grandchild will also have been excited, making all of the future plans, looking forward to making memories, but when that baby dies, they not only have to mourn this loss, but also have to watch their own children go through one of the most painful experiences anyone could go through. Throughout their lives, bringing them up they have helped and advised that child on life events but when such a tragedy happens they don’t know how to help, what to say. This time, they cannot make it better.
Subsequent pregnancies and children.
When you have been through such a rare experience it makes you realise that these things do happen and this in turn can make subsequent pregnancies a very worrying time, as can giving birth, as you may have serious concerns that this could happen again.
If in the future you are fortunate enough to give birth to a gorgeous, healthy baby that has arrived safely, the worry may then continue as that child grows up, and the parents having to try to manage the constant fear that something could happen again.
Anyone affected by baby loss, can benefit from speaking to a professional. Through seeing a qualified counsellor, a bereaved parent can talk about their baby, without fear of shocking, upsetting or even offending who they are talking to. Having the time and space to be able to talk through their experience, their feelings without judgement can help. Some may need this soon after the death of their baby; others may not feel ready or able until many years after.
Written by Karen Batchelor.