Recently I was asked to write a blog post for Marian Jarvis who owns the business www.soulbodyshiatsu.com.au Here is what I sent her.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. It’s a difficult and often uncomfortable subject matter. But I guarantee you there is someone in your life (if you haven’t yourself), that has been touched by this sort of devastating loss.
Every year 110,000 Australians have a miscarriage, 2,200 have a still birth, 600 babies die 28 days after birth and others face huge grief around termination for medical reasons- www.sands.org.au
During October we remember and hold space for those babes lost. We hold space for those parents who’s dreams were crushed of seeing there baby grow up. We acknowledge the grief that all of those impacted by such loss hold. Its not just the parents but the grandparents, siblings, family, friends and colleges who are all impacted by the loss.
We especially will hold in our heart those mamas who have had to deliver babies, via surgical intervention or birth with no support person present in hospital due to covid restrictions. I send so much love to anyone who has had to be dropped at the door of the hospital for a D and C (dilation and curettage) and collected by their support person at the hospital entrance after the “procedure”. Imagine waking up to your baby gone and you have no one you love sitting with you as you bleed and cry painful tears of grief!!? I can’t even. This trauma will last generations.
Those that experience pregnancy an infant loss experience a whole range of emotions. Anything from sadness, despair, devastation, to anger, guilt, jealousy and isolation. Some may even feel relief if it was an unwanted pregnancy or a termination for medical reasons.
If you know someone that is experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss understand that no matter how early the loss, these babies matter to their parents. Secondly, these mamas are still going through postpartum, sadly without a baby in their arms. So they will have the full range of changes in hormones and emotions, bodily changes and recovery and will still need just as much, likely even more love and care from their community, than a mum with a newborn in her arms. Here are some ways you can support a mother after loss:
1.Listen: With an open non-judgemental heart. DO NOT offer platitudes like “it was meant to be or “it was early you can try again”.
2.Validate Feelings: To this mama it was their baby. All of their dreams for this babies future are now lost. Show you understand by showing genuine empathy and using statements like “I am sorry for your loss”, “I wish you didn’t have to go through this grief and pain” or “what can I do to help”.
3.Practical Support: Those that have miscarried are still going through postpartum. You can provide warming and nourishing meals, tidy up when you visit, offer to do their shopping or take her to appointments.
4.Encourage Self-Care: There is emotional and physical healing that is occurring. You can provide a gift of healing and memory making items, take care of older children so she can have a bath or nap, take her for a grounding walk in nature or give her a hand or foot massage.
5.Link them with supports: offer to link her with supports for her emotional healing. When we are grieving it can be hard to make a call, or research what supports are out there. Do the leg work for her.
A few places to get support for pregnancy and infant loss support are:
GP: for a mental health plan
Centre for perinatal psychology
The pink Elephants support network
Red nose and Sands
Bears of hope
Bereavement counsellors, doulas and midwifes.
I personally offer support to grieving mothers in the way of counselling sessions or I have a in-home support package where I care for the mother and partner at the home over several visits. I also offer pregnancy and infant loss hampers.
During October there are a few special events happening.
I invite you to light a candle at 7pm on October 15 which is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day and the wave of light.
There are also walks to remember around Australia both virtually and in-person.
For all those that have experienced pregnancy and infant loss I send you so much love and condolences. Please reach out to any of the support services I have mentioned, including myself.
Pic: i hosted a fundraiser event for the Pink Elephants support network in May 2021