Pregnancy loss, whether an early term miscarriage or a late term stillbirth, can be devastating for both men and women. On a clinical level this can lead to anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
What Have I Lost?
Part of the difficulty in coming to terms with the loss is not having the same relationship with this child as you would with one who you had a living interaction with. People are often uncomfortable answering how many children they have had and are not sure what to answer.
For those who view this loss as they would a child who was born and raised, there are many difficulties. There are few tangible item to hold onto and cherish. No memories of a child playing in the sandbox and looking up at you with a sweet smile. No “kids say the darndest things” moments. Your friends and loved ones can’t console you with their fond memories and many might not have even known you were pregnant. Often the cause of death is unknown, leading to self-blame and increased anxiety in subsequent pregnancies.
My Stillbirth Research
Although there are many negative mental health effects of a pregnancy loss, it is likely that some people find meaning in it and are able to grow from the experience. This concept is called post traumatic growth and has been well studied in disorders such as PTSD. There is limited research in this area with pregnancy loss, and it is unknown how commonly this occurs or what factors may predict it. Through a study I conducted, I found that post traumatic growth does indeed occur in pregnancy loss. Factors that predicted growth included being able to talk to other’s about what happened and having a flexible family to accommodate parents during their grieving periods. These factors are something that can and should be considered by clinicians, family and friends when a pregnancy loss occurs.
What You Can Do
I have been nominated for a Star Legacy Stillbirth Researcher award and I see this as a means to spread awareness of my work so that we can better help women and men who struggle after losing a pregnancy. I encourage you to vote for me and share this article to help disseminate this important research and help those who could benefit from it.
Have you experienced a pregnancy loss? What do you wish other’s new about that loss? What advice do you have for other people who might be having a similar experience?