A miscarriage is the unintended ending of a pregnancy. About 1 in every 5 recognised pregnancies end in miscarriage. Most miscarriages occur in the early months of pregnancy and some occur later on. Most are unexpected and come as a surprise and a shock to women and their partners.
With the realisation that the pregnancy has really ended, the sense of grief and sadness can be overwhelming. The loss of your pregnancy at any stage can have a big impact on you and your partner, and the family. One day you are pregnant and planning your future life with your child, and then within a short time your pregnancy ends, and your dreams and plans have changed.
Your grief may be even harder to bear as you have nothing to show for the pregnancy and you have no memories to grieve. Friends and acquaintances may have been unaware of the pregnancy. With this lack of acknowledgment and the absence of memories, it may seem as if your baby never existed which can add another dimension to the feelings of loss and grief.
Pregnant couples usually expect birth to be a joyful event, not a sad one. In a normal situation no-one expects a baby to die. The death of a baby brings many intense feelings.
Parents often feel a strong desire to talk about their baby. Many want to be with others who have suffered and survived a similar loss. Many bereaved parents seek help from a support group from around 6 weeks or so after their baby’s death. This is because until that time most bereaved parents feel at least some support from their family and friends. However after a few weeks most family and friends are able to get on with their lives and activities, whereas the bereaved may feel they cannot get on with theirs.
No-one who conceives a pregnancy expects to have to terminate it for medical reasons and for what would normally be a happy event to become one of sadness.
Although there are now a number of tests that are done routinely to check the baby in the uterus, it comes as a shock to learn there is something wrong. It may be there is a problem with the baby and the prospective parents are faced with the difficult decision of terminating the pregnancy. Or it may be there is a problem with the mother’s health and the doctors advise against continuing with the pregnancy.
Deciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy can be difficult and can result in many mixed feelings. Being able to talk through your decision-making with a counsellor can be helpful as it enables a woman to explore the choices she has.
There is no “right” way to feel after a termination. Common feelings may be as varied as relief, gratitude, sadness, anger, guilt, confidence, doubt, etc. As there is no right or wrong way to feel, it is important to know that your feelings count, no matter what they are.
Grieving the death of a baby or a miscarriage often takes much longer than those who have not experienced such a loss would expect. Initially, parents often need to speak about their dead baby or the pregnancy constantly and you need to be patient even if you have heard the same story many times. Don’t be critical or try to change the topic of conversation. Be patient with parents for however long it takes for them to cope with their loss. Encourage them to be patient with their recovery by not expecting too much of themselves too soon.
The Remembering the Babies Memorial Rock Garden was opened in 2010 at the NALAG Centre for Loss & Grief in Dubbo. Since then the Centre has held an annual Remembering Ceremony for the community. In recent years the NALAG Centre has changed the date to coincide with the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day
At the NALAG Centre for Loss and Grief in Dubbo we offer people who have lost an infant of pregnancy a memorial stone in commemoration of a little life gone too soon.