For many people, losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy is a devastating experience. They may feel overwhelmed with their grief over the loss and struggle to think of how life might ever be the same again. For others, they may feel upset at first, and then they may move forward quickly.

How you feel about your loss will depend on your own unique circumstances, your experience of this loss, your personal history with grief and trauma (including any prior pregnancy losses and experiences with infertility), and how you felt about the pregnancy. Factors like poor emotional support, traumatic medical procedures that took place alongside the loss, and hormonal fluctuations may make things feel even harder.

It’s important to know that there is no set way to feel when you find yourself going through a pregnancy loss – and there is certainly no wrong way to feel. It is common and normal to feel:

  • sad and tearful
  • shock and confusion
  • numb and disconnected from others and yourself
  • jealous
  • angry
  • guilty
  • empty inside
  • like nobody else “gets it”
  • anxious and out of control, overwhelmed
  • like you can’t cope with your day-to-day life
  • exhausted, physically and emotionally
  • physical complaints, like headaches and stomachaches
  • like your sleep and appetite are disrupted
  • increased tension with your partner, or increased closeness with your partner
  • loss of interest in sex and intimacy following the loss

While these experiences are normal for someone grieving the loss of their baby, if you are worried about how you’re feeling, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor or care provider.

A Unique Kind of Grief 

Losing a baby is a different kind of grief and loss. Not only are you grieving for your baby, but you’re also mourning the loss of their future and your own dreams of being their parent. You may have lost a baby before, or fought through infertility to conceive in the first place, and this feels unbearable and so unfair. The physical effects of pregnancy loss – especially the pain,  bleeding, and further testing – can increase your grief and compound the trauma of the loss. These unique experiences may also make it more difficult for others to understand and relate to your pain.

For a lot of people going through a loss, questions around timelines and the intensity of their emotions often pop up, as well as a lot of guilt for struggling so much. You may be asking yourself these questions, or others may be passing judgment on your experience:

  • “Is what I’m feeling normal? Shouldn’t I be “over it” by now?”
  • “Why am I still struggling when it’s been ____ weeks/months/years?”
  • “Others have had it worse, why is this so hard for me?”

Remember, this is your experience, and there are no rules around how you should be feeling or how long you can grieve for. We all respond to loss in our own way. There is no set time for your sadness to end, for you to “be over it.” Even once your sadness starts to lift, you may still have bad days, where the grief feels very raw again. Common triggers for this include ‘anniversaries’ (e.g. the day you found out about the loss, the day the baby would have been due), others’ pregnancy and birth announcements, and insensitive comments from other people. It’s completely normal to find yourself grieving again, even a long time after the loss.

What Might Help?

It can be hard to know what might help in the early days after a devastating loss because everything feels so overwhelming. Simple tasks may feel like too much.

It’s important to be kind to yourself, to talk about your feelings with people who are supportive and trustworthy, and to try to take care of yourself even when it feels impossible.

Here are some ideas for coping with the intense physical sensations and emotions that may show up after a pregnancy loss:

  • Give yourself permission to take all the time you need. This may involve taking some time off work or opting out of big social gatherings if you don’t have the energy to participate.
  • Look after your basic needs. Try to eat regularly, move your body, and sleep as you are able.
  • Learn about grief and understand that what you’re feeling is likely very normal. You may never “get over it,” but moving forward is possible.
  • Take it one day at a time and understand that there is no timeline for grief.
  • Seek emotional support that’s actually supportive. This might mean avoiding people who are insensitive or critical of your grieving process and connecting with people who can offer genuine empathy and support.
  • Share with your partner how you’re feeling. Communication is key to coping as a couple. If you’re not ready for sex or intimacy, let your partner know and find other ways to heal together.
  • You might want answers about what happened to your baby. It might help to turn to your doctor, midwife, nurse provider, or hospital to find out more.
  • If it feels important to you, you might want to find a special way to remember your baby and mark the loss. Ideas include:
    • naming your baby and talking about your baby with others;
    • making an entry for your baby in your hospital’s book of remembrance; 
    • planting flowers or a tree in your garden; 
    • lighting a candle on anniversaries and other ‘special’ days; 
    • buying something memorable; 
    • having a piece of jewelry made; 
    • getting a tattoo in honour of your baby; 
    • writing a letter or poem for your baby; 
    • making a donation to a favourite charity.

Pregnancy Loss Counselling in B.C.

If you are struggling to cope with your feelings after your loss, you may need some additional support. Jennifer has extensive professional and personal experience with pregnancy loss and the unique pain of loss after IVF, and is here to listen and provide support to you. Please consider reaching out at [email protected] or (604) 991-7127 if it might be time to talk to someone about how you’ve been feeling.