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Help after miscarriage

If you have difficulty going through a miscarriage or the loss of a baby due to premature birth, our psychologist/counselor is ready to listen to you and help you. Do not isolate yourself in your time of pain and grief. You can call us at +370 603 57726, +370 603 57912 or email us at neplanuotasnestumas@gmail.com. Counseling takes place in Vilnius at 4 Paco Street and is free of charge.

“Miscarriage” usually defines the termination of pregnancy by expulsion of the fetus up to the sixth month of pregnancy. “Early miscarriage” is defined as the termination of pregnancy by expulsion of the fetus which happens during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. These kinds of miscarriages make up the majority of all perinatal deaths – that is about 75 percent. The most common causes are of genetic origin.

Miscarriages that take place during the second trimester of pregnancy (13th-20th week of pregnancy) make up about 3 percent of all miscarriages. They are usually caused by cervical abnormalities, infections or genetic diseases, although, sometimes, it is impossible to determine the cause.

The loss of a baby, during the third trimester of pregnancy or right after birth, is particularly painful because both the woman and the whole family are already prepared for the coming of a new family member. The baby already has his package of necessities, maybe there is a name chosen for him, maybe breast milk is already being produced… Older siblings are waiting to see their brother or sister… The loss of an unborn baby, at this period, is very significant; it is more noticeable, outwardly, therefore, the woman, usually, receives more sympathy from her family than a woman who has an early miscarriage.

But the loss of a baby during any stage of pregnancy is a significant loss because the woman already has a bond with the new human life that is very closely associated with her. A pregnant woman, early on, starts perceiving and sensing herself differently – already in relation to and through relationship with her baby. And suddenly all of this stops... The more intense the conncetion that a woman feels with her baby, the more painful is the feeling of loss and mourning. Therefore, the pain cannot be measured according to the length of expectancy because, in all cases, the goal was the same – to have a baby. Since the majority of miscarriages occur during the early stage of pregnancy, many parents go through this mourning of a loss. Usually, an early loss is more complicated due to the lack of understanding from other people and those closest to the woman, who think that this is far too small a reason for mourning. This forces a woman to withdraw and fear showing or expressing what she is going through. She is being “comforted” by empty phrases. The most popular ones are: “There is nothing that can be done, the weakest ones have to go; that’s how the world is made”, “Better now than later”, “You will have more”, “And my friend went through…, and my relative was going through a much worse situation”. A woman feels discrepancy between what she is feeling and what others are telling her. She may even start doubting her own feelings – wondering if they are normal and legitimate. She may sense an even bigger void and also a bigger need to talk about it, but also a greater fear to open up.

Mourning is complicated by the fact that, after having a miscarriage, during an early stage of pregnancy, the family cannot bury the baby.  The family does not have the opportunity to mourn in the way that people mourn after losing their beloved ones – that is to be together, say goodbye, visit the grave, light a candle – in a visible and tangible way. A human is both a physical and a psychological being, therefore, during the time of pain, grief and loss, it is very important for him to have an opportunity to rely on all of his human experience. When there is no chance to bury one’s loved one, then one has to rely only on his memory and internal relationship with the lost baby. Many women testify that this is very hard.

After having a miscarriage, in the early stage of pregnancy, apart from the confusion of emotions, usually, there is also a strong sense of guilt: Why me? What did I do wrong? Maybe I needed to do something differently? A woman analyzes various situations and her behavior, down to the smallest details, as if looking for evidence. It is a very painful experience, therefore, without the help of others, it is very difficult for a woman to come  out of this state of distress.

The loss of a baby, in a later stage of pregnancy, is painful because it is more unexpected as a woman feels more secure, after passing through the most dangerous stage, the first trimester of pregnancy. The trauma is even greater if a woman has already felt the movements of the baby. The loss, experienced, in later stages of pregnancy, is also very hard because the parents have to bury their baby, who is born during the second half of pregnancy, and that is anguish like no other.

A human goes through every emotionally significant loss by mourning. Mourning is a process and it is impossible to speed it up. It has its dynamics and stages. The loss of a baby is an extremely complicated, painful experience because the mother and baby have a special bond. No other relationship is expressed as such a direct dependence as the one of a mother and baby. Therefore, it is the death of a helpless human being who is totally dependent on her.

In the beginning, the mother or both parents are in shock; she or they feel a sense of emptiness, detachment from reality, unbelief that this has happened, denial of the fact, protest. It is difficult for a woman to concentrate, to soberly evaluate the situation or to make a decision. It is a state of stagnation and helplessness, although inside, there are very conflicting emotions which, at any time, can erupt in anger or accusation, directed at doctors, an unfair world, God or self. This first stage of shock and helplessness is very exhausting. Later, there comes an understanding that the baby is not there anymore, but this is not yet the stage of acceptance. Usually, the feelings of anger, accusation or protest come back at those times when the baby was supposed to be born or during the anniversary of the baby’s death.

During the later stage of mourning, one goes through a deep sense of longing, recurring memories from the time when woman was still expecting. She lives in the current moment, but, constantly, returns to the past before that fatal day. The woman thinks a lot about her baby. Although, the experience of both, past and present, realities is very painful, she still tries to find a reason, a culprit or blames herself. The woman, easily, gets into conflicts; she has conflicting feelings ranging from anger to apathy. In such a way, she unconsciously fights against the sense of loneliness and futility. It is a painful time when she is looking for inner strength. But it is very important because it helps the woman to move forward. During this stage, a woman may have different psychosomatic disorders – insomnia, loss of appetite, headaches, cardiac arrhythmia. Some women try to compensate the feeling of futility with the thoughts of another pregnancy and finding purpose in this way. While others, on the contrary, are afraid to even think about such a possibility.

In an even more advanced stage of fighting the loss, a woman clearly understands the reality of the loss. She has no more illusions. She, as if, surrenders, acknowledging the reality as it is. At this time, she may experience various unhealthy conditions:  helplessness, a dismal mood, a sense of futility; she may become inactive, have a strong desire to isolate herself, withdraw, not letting others in her internal world and, many times, in her outer world. There can be symptoms of depression and psychosomatic disorders may become more severe. The more support and understanding a woman receives from the family, the better she handles all the mourning stages. Often, a woman needs professional counseling. In this way, she starts regaining her ablity to see the situation as it is; she rebuilds emotional bonds and relationships with other people. A woman finds a new bond with her unborn baby; she responds to memories about him in a different way. Therefore, it is very important not to run away from grief, not to suppress it, but to let it take its course by letting it out in mourning and crying, to talk through it, to share your pain with others, to talk about it with a counselor. Constantly returning to the painful experience and talking about it, helps to get through the pain easier and to reach reconciliation. There are families who share their experiences with other families who have experienced the pain of losing a baby. Also, for the healing process, it is very important to give the baby a name, to remember him on his birthdays. Every woman and every family has their own path and pace of grieving. It depends on many factors. Usually, the cycle of the grief of a loss lasts up to two years, but in some cases, it may last longer. Therefore, it is important to mourn the loss, to overcome the pain and prevent the development of a pathology.

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