This blog post is part of a series of blog posts about navigating pregnancy after loss – you can read the introduction, and follow links to the other posts in this series here.
Emotionally, pregnancy after loss is hard. It is really important to prioritise your emotional and mental health just as much as your physical and medical needs. You may already have a support network in place, and hopefully they can carry forward. But there may be adaptations that you feel you’d also like to make.
FINDING (AND PERHAPS LOOSING) YOUR TRIBE
Pregnancy after loss isn’t like a normal pregnancy. Whilst you can gain support from others who are pregnant, I’d really recommend finding others who are also pregnant after loss like yourself. It is such a relief to have a safe space to discuss your emotions.
You can find your tribe in a variety of places – often local SANDS groups have specific meetings for pregnancy after loss, the SANDS forum pages have specific boards (and I’m sure other charity forums do, like The Miscarriage Association), there are a few Facebook groups from MAMA Academy and Pregnancy After Loss Support, or you can find people through social media, like on Instagram or Twitter. Getting a What App group is ideal!
With this, sadly you may find that you also end up loosing your existing tribe (if you have one). This is no doubt going to affect you and them deeply. When you have supported each other through such a challenging time, to suddenly find a disconnect because one of you becomes pregnant is hard. Do what you can to keep that connection there, whilst respecting that they may need that distance for their own healing.
If you can’t find or don’t want to find actual people, often following blogs is a really helpful way to just normalise it all. Pregnancy After Loss Support has a vast range of stories, and you may like to read Michelle at Dear Orla, Elena at Frivolous Mama and Laura at One Missing Mum who have all blogged recently about their pregnancy after loss experiences, as did I.
TAILORED SUPPORT SERVICES
I’d really recommend doing some local research and finding some specific Pregnancy After Loss support groups or antenatal classes. There aren’t many and you may have to travel – but some people find it a challenge to access traditional antenatal education, but it is so important for us all. Having tailored support can mean that you are informed and supported appropriately.
We attended sessions alongside counselling with Reading Lifeline in Berkshire, and there are services from Teardrop Support Group in Northumberland, Forget Me Not Child in Huddersfield, SANDS Lothian in Edinburgh, Joel, The Complete Package in Nottinghamshire – and I’m sure others.
COUNSELLING AND MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
You may find that you are struggling and unable to manage your mental health alone – this is absolutely okay, and so unbelievably understandable following pregnancy or baby loss of any kind. Even if you aren’t pregnant again, you are entitled and worthy of support. Please do speak to your GP or even self-refer through IAPT services which can be done online. I’ve recently done this, and am about to start treatment in line with post-traumatic stress disorder linked to Leo’s death.
When you are dealing with challenging mental health and pregnant – the need to seek help is even more prominent. It is okay to not be okay during pregnancy. A really good starting point might be the Tommy’s Wellbeing Plan as it might help you identify a way to verbalise your concerns. You can seek support direct from your GP or Midwife – and this blog post has a lot more information about seeking mental health support for a range of concerns.
I was really encouraged when I attended my hospital because of my anxiety one time, as the Midwife straight away recognised how much I was struggling, and got the Perinatal Mental Health Services to speak to me. It was incredibly validating. Its okay to not be okay.
DEALING WITH ANXIETY IN PREGNANCY AFTER LOSS
Anxiety is a consistent theme through all of these blog posts, and it is central to the challenge of pregnancy after loss. I’d go so far to say that it is more than anxiety – it can feel fearful, full of trepidation and isolation. I’ve covered some aspects in a bit more detail elsewhere in the series, so here I just want to share some key headline advice on addressing the day to day anxiety you may experience:
- learn your baseline – recognise the signs that you are getting more anxious – are you quieter, hyper, feel nervous, snappy, etc.
- nip it in the bud – recognise the signs and address it – do you need to lie down, have a bath, meditate, yoga, take a walk, talk to someone, seek reassurance, practise your breathing, write.
- verbalise it – say it out loud to someone else, or even write it down, demystify the fear that you hold, place some responsibility elsewhere, and allow others to help you work through it.
- accept that you need help – just because there is a good reason for you to feel anxious, doesn’t mean that you can’t seek support for it, you are always worthy of help.
- seek the help – know where to go, have contact numbers ready for helpines or hospitals, reflect on what helped last time, and put that into practice
- learn your triggers – reflect on your anxiety crashes and see if you can determine what started your spiral, break it down, and try and find ways to improve the situation next time
- breathe – learn some breathing techniques that work for you, have a Google and a look at You Tube and experiment with what calms you – your breath is so important and a easy tool wherever you are. Yoga is a great way to learn how to control your breathing, and many videos are available on YouTube if you aren’t up to a class.
- sleep – sleeping is a really good way to reset your body, even if its a quick nap, it’ll give you brain a chance to calm down and your body a chance to reset
You can find out more about anxiety in general, and dealing with it from Mind as well as from Tommys.
IN CONCLUSION… find your tribe, find something to make you feel less alone, and learn how to manage your own anxiety on a day to day basis.
I really hope that this series of blog posts is helpful – if you are considering a pregnancy after loss, or are pregnant after loss, you are never alone. Whatever you feel, others have felt it before.
Carry on reading here :
Navigating a Pregnancy after Loss | An Introduction
Getting the best out of your Medical Care
Dealing with Grief whilst Pregnant After Loss
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