If you’re pregnant after experiencing a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss, you may find yourself battling a spectrum of emotions.
Excitement. Fear. Joy. Anxiety.
Adriel Booker, author of Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving With Hope After Miscarriage and Loss, describes three pregnancies after miscarriage as “simultaneously thrilling and frightening.”
I want to preface this blog by saying that I have not been pregnant after my loss. I’m hopeful that I’ll have my rainbow baby sometime in the near future. I don’t proclaim to know what you’re going through if you’re pregnant after loss. So here are some things to keep in mind from women who have been pregnant after a pregnancy loss.
Make space for all of your emotions
You may be experiencing some emotions that contradict each other (I’m talking to you, joy and fear). But it’s okay for two very different emotions to exist at the same time. Let’s look at both of these emotions.
If you experienced joy and happiness upon finding out that you’re pregnant again, one thing to keep in mind is to let yourself experience joy.
In her book, The Miscarriage Map: What To Expect When You Are No Longer Expecting, Dr. Sunita Osborn talks about her experiences with multiple miscarriages. With her first pregnancy, she felt joyful. But she let her worries get the best of her and quickly shut that joy down with worst-case scenarios. By attempting to mentally prepare herself for the what-ifs, she didn’t allow herself to be happy about being pregnant. When she found out she was having a miscarriage, guess what? She was still shocked and saddened. The what-ifs had done nothing for her. She realized that she just couldn’t prepare for the grief and pain she would endure.
With her second pregnancy, she let herself experience joy. She talked about the future of her baby with her husband and leaned into the beauty of being pregnant. When she found out she was having another miscarriage, she was undeniably devastated. But she says that the time she spent allowing herself to have hope made her feel freer than when she tried to crush that hope.
As mothers who’ve experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss, the reality of a pregnancy that doesn’t end how we want it to is very real for us. But if you find yourself experiencing joy in your next pregnancy, let yourself be joyful!
On the other hand, fear and anxiety might pop up throughout your pregnancy. It may seem painful just thinking about letting yourself experience this discomfort. You might even find yourself fighting these emotions and wishing you could just be happy about being pregnant again. But as the sub-headline says, it’s important to make space for all of your emotions.
When you fight feelings of anxiety, this only creates a cycle of pushing away feelings that continuously come back. Dr. Osborn advises leaning into your discomfort and giving it compassion.
Think about it. You’ve been through a miscarriage, stillbirth, or pregnancy loss, and you’re pregnant again. Naturally, you’re anxious about how this pregnancy will turn out. Instead of trying to push those feelings aside, give them space. Dr. Osborn says, “When we intentionally make space for our pain, we let go of the struggle. This allows us the freedom to move, to look around, and to choose what to do next.”
My therapist has been having me do emotional check-ins with myself. When I’m feeling an emotion that doesn’t feel good for me, I simply acknowledge it. I write the emotion down and accept that it’s what I’m feeling at the moment. I try not to judge the emotion. This is how I make space for any feelings of discomfort that I have.
You can also try this with positive emotions. It might even serve as a reminder to celebrate the fact that you’re pregnant! Give it a try at least once a day and you’ll be able to create more self-awareness and acceptance around the emotions you experience throughout your pregnancy.
Set goals for your pregnancy
Something I’ve thought of before even becoming pregnant again is what I can do differently for my next pregnancy. For example, I want a doula this time around. I want to go for frequent walks. I want to meditate on daily affirmations about what my body is capable of. I want to celebrate the joy of being pregnant again.
I know some of these may be easier said than done, especially since I’m not pregnant yet. But when I do become pregnant, I like to think that having these goals already established will help get me through my pregnancy.
Dr. Osborn suggests doing the same. In her experience, she did a few things. First, she wrote down what she would want to do again in her next pregnancy. Then she wrote what she doesn’t want to repeat from her previous pregnancies. She used these lists to inspire the goals for her next pregnancy. Look at her examples of what she doesn’t want to repeat and the goals that come from it.
What I don’t want to repeat: Googling incessantly
Goal: Instead of Googling every concern that comes to mind, I will start a list on my phone of questions to ask my doctor.
What I don’t want to repeat: Fighting my feelings
Goal: I will allow myself to sit with a range of uncomfortable emotions without judging myself or trying to justify these emotions.
When you set your goals, try to be intentional about them. Think about what could really help you get through this pregnancy.
Pregnancy after loss can be a stressful experience. Try your best to make room for the wide range of emotions you may be experiencing. Seek professional help if you feel you need someone to talk to. Set goals for your pregnancy. Be present throughout your pregnancy, and try to celebrate the beauty of being pregnant.
What are some emotions that have come up for you during your pregnancy? It might be helpful to write them down.
If you’re experiencing a loss currently, have recently experienced one, or never processed a loss you had in the past, please consider joining the weekly pregnancy and infant loss support group by Rachel’s Gift. It’s currently held on Thursdays at 7pm EST via Zoom. This free group is open to both or either partner (men and women) and their family members. The group is led by licensed counselors and social workers and is a safe space to grieve among others who have had similar experiences. It has helped 800 people and counting through their loss journeys since its inception. Sign up today. https://www.rachelsgift.org/infant-loss-support-groups.html
MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is provided for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Do not rely solely on this information. Consult your health care provider for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.
Samantha is a freelance copywriter currently living in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. She experienced a second trimester loss in November 2021. She started attending the support group through Rachel’s Gift the following month where she found a supportive community of men and women also experiencing pregnancy loss. Samantha advocates for Down syndrome awareness as her daughter, Cecilia, was diagnosed with Down syndrome. She and her family participated in World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, 2022. Contact her at www.periodandpen.com.
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