Pregnancy after previous loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal loss) is a complex time. For the pregnant person it is a time of joy but it can also be filled with intense fear, anxiety, worry, and isolation. It is a time where the external world meets your pregnancy in celebration but doesn’t always make space to hold the other emotions that come along with it. Society’s lack of acknowledgement can make you feel like you are alone, that maybe something is wrong with you for not being 100% excited, joyful, or connected to your pregnancy.
As someone who has personally experienced pregnancy after loss and professionally coaches people through this experience, I am here to tell you that it is completely normal to experience all the emotions in a pregnancy after loss.
Pregnancy after loss is a complex time but here are some things that might help you navigate your way through it:
1. Connect to your facts.
When we have experienced previous miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal loss it can be very difficult to see anything beyond that. Often times our minds take us back to past experiences and outcomes or to unknown futures. In a pregnancy after loss, it is important to remind ourselves of the facts as we know them in the moment. Not what happened before, or what could happen. Only what we know for certain is true in THIS moment. THIS pregnancy. THIS season. So in moments of anxiety remind yourself of what IS happening for you. Don’t go to google—those are not YOUR facts. Lean in to the space inside of you and connect to what is certain for you in this moment. This is where you find the power to stay above the downward spirals that are not currently yours.
2. Today's body.
Many people after previous loss have a complex relationship with their body. This can lead to feelings of distrust and frustration. In moments where you find yourself not trusting your body or you are frustrated with how you believe your body "should" look/perform/be...use this term "today's body". Using the term TODAY rather than mine helps shift your mind from a place of judgment and into acceptance. It is a powerful reminder that TODAY your body is this way...it is not the body of yesterday. Using this term helps remind you to be more compassionate for where you are in this moment. Not where you once were, or where you may be in the future...but TODAY.
3. Speak your truth.
Don’t be afraid to speak up about how you are feeling. As I have noted, it is completely normal to feel this way. The only way other people can help support you is if you are honest with them. I remember at my baby shower in my pregnancy after loss, I sat completely disconnected from myself, my pregnancy, and everyone around me. No one knew that I was sitting in fear, waiting for the “other shoe to drop”. Not one person knew how much anxiety was bubbling through my body because I didn’t tell anyone. There was so much shame surrounding that day. I wondered why I couldn’t “just” be happy. I know now it is so much deeper than that.
So in those moments where the fear is louder than the joy, tell a trusted friend, partner, or family member. You could even connect with a professional to hold space for your truth. There is nothing wrong in feeling things outside of joy—find a space that can hold this truth for you.
4. Allow yourself to feel.
Don’t try to skip over your feelings. Even the tough ones. Pregnancy after loss is full of ups and downs so when you are feeling down, allow yourself to be with it. There is no pushing your way through this. Instead, give yourself permission to feel your way through it. The love. The grief. The highs. The lows. It is ok to feel your way through this. In fact, it is the only way.
Whatever comes up in your pregnancy after loss, know that it is normal and that you are not alone.
If you would like more support in your pregnancy after loss please connect with me at Pregnancy Loss Healing. It would be my honour to support you through this.
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Aditi Loveridge (she/her/hers) is a certified life coach, and mindfulness meditation teacher. Aditi is also the owner of Pregnancy Loss Healing and the founder of the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Centre, a registered charity located in Calgary, Canada. Aditi helps individuals who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss to reconnect with trust (and love) so that they can step beyond anxiety and fear. Her work includes supporting those who have recently experienced loss, are trying to conceive after loss of any kind (pregnancy/infant loss, failed IVF, missed adoption), are pregnant again after loss, and those still struggling after the birth of their baby.
Before working as a certified coach, Aditi had a successful career as a social worker. She now draws on her social work, mindfulness and coaching skills to help people connect with their present moment experiences so that they can engage wholeheartedly in their lives.