If you are one of the 700 mothers and fathers who lose a child each day in the UK, you will be all too acutely aware of the traumatic effects upon your life. What most people do not talk about however is what happens if you get pregnant again, because for many women they enter a period of fear and anxiety, that can paralyse their life.
A survey conducted by the Mariposa Trust (www.sayinggoodbye.org) a leading charity working in the area of bereavement and pregnancy support, saw 224 women share their experience of subsequent pregnancy following baby loss, and it highlighted how specialist and compassionate support is crucial.
Key points from the survey:
- 97% of women reported that they were terrified through subsequent pregnancies
- 81% of women were scared until the point that they delivered their next child
- 77% of women reported suffering post traumatic trauma following loss
- 50% of women reported suffering clinical depression following loss
When I saw the result of the number of people experiencing terror through their next pregnancies, it resonated with my personal experience of baby loss. I remember the absolute panic each day, always living on the knife edge of would everything be okay or not. I was scared to go to the loo, just in case I saw red, and every scan was terrifying. Constant worry about whether the baby had moved or not...always checking if my pregnancy symptoms felt the same, did I feel nauseous enough, was my bump too big, too small? The list of worries was endless.
I am fortunate to have never suffered from post traumatic trauma or depression, but on reading the statistic I realise I was in the minority, as three out of four women have suffered PTT and nearly half have experienced clinical depression that they directly attribute to baby loss. This should be something the medical profession take very seriously, as good support could drastically reduce these high numbers.
With the right support fear can be controlled, yes it may not be able to be eliminated, but any reduction in these debilitating symptoms is surely a blessing. I feel we owe great support to these brave women (and men) who have faced their fear and got pregnant again after walking through such utter heartbreak.
Lauren Burton, aged 37 from Southampton, was one of the survey responders and shared her personal experience with me. "Pregnancy post-loss is mental torture. You are constantly scared trying to prepare mentally for the bottom to fall out of your world at any point. I felt like I was walking a tightrope. Each milestone in the pregnancy obviously brought an element of relief, but peace did not return until I had my baby in my arms. Loss basically robbed me of my peace and joy, and the innocence of pregnancy."
Some time ago I wrote this and it went viral within hours of it being posted on social media. I had hundreds of people and Lauren was one of those, getting it touch saying 'thank you so much, I thought it was just me'. We need to talk about this terror so people can be properly supported.
We are currently in Baby Loss Awareness Week (9th to the 15th October 2017). This is a time when baby loss charities across the globe, hold events, services, and acts of remembrance, to show the world the impact of baby loss, which sees around 38,000,000 babies lost during pregnancy, at birth or in early years each year. It is also a time to show Government, media and the health service how important this issue is. The Mariposa Trust provides support via six divisions to over 50,000 people each week, and its 'GrowingYou' division is a lifeline to many pregnant couples.
Andy Clark-Coates (co-Founder and CEO of the Mariposa Trust) spoke about what has become a global time of remembrance. "Baby Loss Awareness Week is a key time for millions of families around the world. Regardless of where they live, they can connect with others in remembering the babies they have lost. Taking part in global symbolic acts, such as the 'Wave of Light' can be therapeutic and make people feel less alone. This is a time where we can all unite and use our collective voice, to say all lost babies matter, and highlight the issue of loss and fear of miscarriage to all of society."
My new book offers support to anyone who has lost a baby and can offer vital support to people who are pregnant again following encountering the loss of a child. By addressing the grief and facing the fear of loss, our hearts can begin to heal and this can make terror reduce. The book is entitled 'Saying Goodbye,' and it tells my personal story of loss and the hope and delight of having my two daughters. It then also provides 90-days of support for people. This is available via Amazon and in all good bookshops.
More information on the Mariposa Trust & Saying Gloodbye can be found at http://www.sayinggoodbye.org
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock