Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Coping with pregnancy loss

Pregnancy loss is devastating, no matter when it happens or what the circumstances. Your hopes and dreams for your unborn child are dashed. You may feel like you'll never be quite the same again — and you may not be. Experiencing pregnancy loss may change you in profound ways.

But with time comes healing. Here are some ways to cope with your grief and survive the emotional impact of pregnancy loss.

Understanding the grieving process

Your emotions may range from anger to despair. Give yourself the time you need to mourn and accept what's happened. It may take weeks, months or even longer to recover.

Grief often happens in stages. You may pass through each stage quickly, linger at some stages or skip others completely. Common stages of grief include:

* Denial. At first, it may be impossible to grasp what's happened. You may find yourself in disbelief.
* Anger. You may be angry at yourself, your spouse or a higher power for letting this happen.
* Guilt. You may wonder if you could have avoided the pregnancy loss by being more careful.
* Depression. Your pain and sorrow may lead to symptoms of depression. These feelings usually go away in time. If your depression is prolonged, you may need professional support.
* Acceptance. Each step in the grieving process brings you closer to acceptance. You'll never forget your baby, but acceptance may ease your pain.

You may have setbacks along the road to acceptance, such as feelings of anger or guilt creeping back after you thought you had moved on. Certain triggers — such as attending a baby shower or seeing a new baby — may be difficult for you to face. That's OK. Excuse yourself from potentially painful situations until you're ready to handle them.
Moving toward healing

Here are some suggestions to make your healing a little easier. Pick and choose those you think might help.

* Make your own decisions. Well-meaning friends or loved ones may suggest clearing out all reminders of your baby, such as maternity clothes or baby items. But the decision is up to you. If you're not ready to pack things away, take as much time as you need.
* Create memories of your baby. You may want to name your baby, have the baby christened or blessed, or hold a memorial service. You may find comfort in personalizing a piece of jewelry, planting a tree or creating another memorial in your baby's honor. If the loss occurred near the end of your pregnancy, you may want to save an ultrasound picture or ask the hospital staff to make handprints or footprints.
* Take it slow. Some days will be better than others. If you're overwhelmed thinking about the future, focus on getting through one day at a time.
* Take care of yourself. Get adequate rest, and eat healthy foods. Set aside time for regular exercise or physical activity.
* Postpone major decisions. You're going through a lot, both emotionally and physically. If you can, wait to make major decisions, such as buying a home or changing jobs.
* Talk with your partner. Men and women grieve in different ways. Don't expect your spouse or partner to cope with grief the same way you do. Be open and honest with each other as you deal with your feelings.
* Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings may be an effective outlet for your pain.
* Seek help from others. Friends and loved ones might not know the best way to help and may not always find the right thing to say. Tell them when you need their support. If you want to talk about the baby or if you'd like help keeping the baby's memory alive, let your friends and loved ones know how you feel.
* Join a support group. Sharing with others who've experienced pregnancy loss — either in person or online — can be comforting. A clergy member or spiritual adviser may be another good source of advice or counseling.

Hope for the future

Many women who experience pregnancy loss go on to have successful pregnancies. Once the pain of your grief subsides, you and your partner can talk about whether to attempt another pregnancy and, if so, when you'd like to try again. Another pregnancy may yield feelings of sadness for your earlier loss — but it may also inspire hope for the future.

From: http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/pregnancy-loss/PR00098/METHOD=print

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