When a baby dies: grief and infertility, miscarriage, early neonatal loss and stillbirth

 

Infertility is an extremely taxing journey. Emotionally, physically, financially, whether undertaken with a loving, supportive spouse or partner or as a single-parent-by-choice, infertility can seem like an overwhelming trail with no endpoint in sight. Often, one may rejoice at a positive pregnancy test only to be sent into the depths of despair with a low beta at the next bloodwork appointment or no heartbeat at the next ultrasound. The physical stress of an early term miscarriage is taxing for any family, but for one that has struggled with infertility; the magnitude of a loss can seem devastating in its enormity.

Early neonatal loss, defined as fetal mortality after 20 weeks of gestation, or a stillbirth of a much-desired pregnancy is truly tragic, although in modern Western culture, discussing such losses has been seen as taboo until fairly recently. Many couples who have suffered miscarriages, early neonatal losses or stillbirths, find themselves feeling alone in their grieving, as family members, friends and associates, struggle to provide support for such an exceptional loss. Many women grapple not only with sadness, grief and anger but also feelings of guilt and self-reproach as well as fears about their abilities to carry a subsequent pregnancy to term. If you have or a loved one has suffered a miscarriage, early neonatal loss and stillbirth, here are some strategies that may help to begin the healing process:

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