Navigating the loss of your baby

Written by Belinda Norman, Mater Mothers’ Hospitals Perinatal Loss Coordinator

Whether your baby has died at six or 36 weeks, the loss of your child is an unimaginable pain that sends your life and your emotions in a total spin. Feelings of numbness, shock, disbelief and the sense that it is a bad nightmare that will go away when you wake up is extremely common. It is such a strange experience and one that I can still vividly remember even 10 years on after the loss of my little girl Ruby. I recall feeling as though my world began moving in slow motion–the doctors, the car park attendant and even my relatives all seemed to be moving and speaking in a way that was not the norm.

What can you do to manage that initial grief when you are given the news that your baby has died? Interestingly grief can not only affect us emotionally, but our bodies also react to our feelings, and it is not uncommon to experience physical symptoms. Even the simplest of tasks can be completely overwhelming and too difficult to manage some days. Here are some of the ways you may be affected:

  • overwhelming tiredness and exhaustion
  • restlessness ‒ feeling unable to sit still
  • aches and pains, e.g. headaches, backache, neck pain, rib and chest pain
  • anxiety attacks
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • comfort eating
  • finding it hard to sleep or fear of sleeping
  • difficulty concentrating.

These symptoms can last for weeks, months or even in some cases years if not managed. Take the first few weeks slowly. Do not have any expectations of yourself or your partner.  Allow the wave of emotions to come (as scary as that may seem) and give yourself permission to feel them. I often have families tell me that they are afraid to allow themselves to really feel those painful emotions, as they are terrified their ‘normal’ self will never return.

Allowing yourself to go to those dark and painful places helps you to move through the grief journey. If you constantly avoid this hard place, your grieving could take longer and cause further physical symptoms. Do not push it aside or cover it up. Cry when you need to cry, wail when you need to wail and hide under the covers if you simply cannot face the world. 

Some days you will only be able to manage simple tasks (if that) and other days you may feel stronger and be able to accomplish more. Do not beat yourself up if you are no longer coping with life as you once did. This will pass in time.

Remember there is no right or wrong way to grieve and every person deals with loss in their own way. If you are concerned for yourself or others, please seek professional help.

Return to Bereavement Services Page

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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