Dealing with Grief: How to Cope with Birthing a Stillborn

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Dealing with grief is never easy, but when you’re saying goodbye to your stillborn child, nothing quite compares. To find out some of the best ways to cope in this unprecedented situation, read on…

As an expecting parent, bringing your new baby home is probably something you’ve been imagining for months. It’s also likely that you’ll have everything prepared, including clothes, a room, and even the nappies, ready for your new arrival.

This is what makes birthing a stillborn baby so completely unprecedented, surreal, and tragic. It’s not going to be an easy transition, no matter how many coping mechanisms you try, or what medication you may take.

Whether you lost your baby to natural causes, or are looking into birth injury claims to get the compensation you deserve, coping is never easy. For some of the best ways for dealing with grief after losing your baby so soon, read on…

What is a Stillborn?

A stillborn baby is classed as a foetal death before or during birth. Depending on the source, if the baby shows no signs of life between the ages of 20 to 28 weeks within the womb, this is classed as a stillborn. This is because, in these cases, labour will have to be induced to ensure the safety of the mother.

Having a stillborn baby is often very devastating, and can stay with a mother and father for years to come. This is why it’s so important to ensure we’re educated on the matter, know the causes, and understand the ways to cope. This way, we can all help one another overcome such a loss.

Stillborn Causes and Risk Factors

Stillborn cases can occur for a range of reasons. However, mothers are more at risk of birthing a stillborn if they smoke, have financial troubles which can cause stress, or have a nasty fall or accident during pregnancy. That being said, complications during or after pregnancy, can also cause a stillbirth. For example:

  • Medical negligence on behalf of the doctors or nurses;
  • Problems with the umbilical cord or placenta, including strangulation or ineffective function;
  • Infection in the foetus or placenta during pregnancy;
  • Maternal illnesses during pregnancy, like high blood pressure;
  • Or birth defects, which could be caused by a genetic disorder.

For many mothers who go through something like this, it can be only natural to blame yourself. In most stillborn cases, however, it’s important to remember that these issues could not have been avoided. What’s important to understand, first and foremost, is that this isn’t your fault.

How Common is Stillbirth?

If you’re pregnant, and you’re anxious about something like this happening to you, this question is probably something you really want to know. In the US, stillbirths occur every 1 in 100 births. But, if you’re living in the UK, they occur every 1 in 200 births.

I guess the one positive you can take away from all this is that, if you’re coping with a stillbirth, you won’t be alone. With technology now providing the ability to network with people all over the world, there are opportunities for families to get in contact with people in a similar situation. But what are some other ways to help you to cope with birthing a stillborn?

10 Top Tips for Dealing with Grief After Losing a Baby

Coping with a tragedy like this will be hard, and you may feel as though no one around you understands. That said, there are a number of different support groups and support mechanisms to try, which could help you get through such a time. There really is an option for anyone and everyone …

1. Have a Funeral

Some grieving parents may be wondering, “how long can you keep a stillborn baby”? They may be reluctant to let go, and may want to hold on for as long as possible, which is only natural.

However, having a stillborn baby funeral for your lost child is one of the best ways a grieving parent can deal with their loss. By saying goodbye with a celebration of the time you spent together, even when they were in the womb, you can finally say goodbye. By doing this early on, you can try to move on easier, using the coping methods below…

2. Seek Support from Family and Friends

Starting with your friends and family, these may be the best people to seek support from to begin with. These people will likely have known you for a long time – perhaps even your whole life – and should know how to help you cope.  Some of the ways your friends and family could help out include:

  • Helping you with laundry;
  • Doing the grocery run;
  • Providing home-cooked meals;
  • Replying to messages of support on social media;
  • And just being that shoulder to cry on.

I have absolutely no doubt that your nearest and dearest will be more than willing to help you out during this time. Through gaining support from the people you love, you could find solace in this dark time.

3. Find a Support Network Online

That said, for some people, it may seem as though no one around you can understand what you’re going through. This can become very lonely, but the modern world has so many other ways to seek support.

We’ve already discussed about the ways in which modern technology can truly bring people around the world together. These sorts of amazing networks could be the right fit for you, especially if you feel as though you’re not getting the right support from your family. By venting to people who have been through something similar, and perhaps making new friends along the way, you should be able to find someone who can understand.

4. Lean on Each Other

If you’re in a situation where you have your other half to support you, this is really one of the best support networks ever. Both of you truly know what it means to lose a child – your child – and you can help one another get through it through this mutual understanding.

It’s a real shame that tragedies like stillbirths can cause relationships to end, due to the impact it has on themselves as people, and as a couple. However, this isn’t the time to fall out; it’s a time to truly remember why you chose each other in the first place.

5. Understand if You’re Feeling Postnatal Depression or Grief

In some cases, mothers who go through a stillbirth could be suffering from postnatal depression, rather than grief. This is because the hormones produced when a mother is pregnant and gives birth are all still there with a stillbirth. Symptoms of postnatal depression, which could be confused with grief include:

  • Decrease or increase in appetite;
  • Low energy;
  • Lack of interest in everything, including life;
  • Persistently feeling in a low mood;
  • Struggling to make decisions;
  • Concentration problems;
  • Low self-confidence;
  • And difficulties with sleeping.

If you’re feeling these feelings, then seeking help from a medical professional, to get to grips with these emotions, is your next best bet…

6. Seek Support from Health Professionals

There are a number of support networks available across the health system, for both post-natal depression and struggles after birthing a stillborn. From helping you with dealing with grief, to support with keeping your relationship strong, to general advice and information, there’s a lot out there.

7. Get a Pet

This may seem like a silly time to get a pet, but it’s true that people with pets experience a better quality of life than those without. Stillbirths can leave a massive hole – it’s no secret – and you might not be ready to try for another child for a long time.

That said, a pet is a really great way to feed that maternal or paternal bond you were looking for. What’s more, it’ll make sure you’re caring for something other than yourself, which will provide a real purpose in life.

8. Don’t Ignore Your Feelings

It may seem natural to bottle up your feelings. This way, you won’t remind your other half of your loss, or you won’t burden others with your feelings. Well, let’s wipe away this mindset right now, and remind ourselves that we are as important as everyone around us.

If you want to have a cry, and simply need to vent, this is your time to be selfish. Coping with this situation will never be easy, but keeping these emotions inside will make it that bit harder. Relieving yourself of these burdens right off the bat will hopefully help the healing process, and make it that bit less surreal, so you can acknowledge what has happened.

9. Try Something New

It’s not all about seeking support, but also finding ways to cope on your own, and this can start from finding new avenues of happiness. One way to do this could be starting a new hobby, like going to the gym, swimming, yoga, or even something less sporty, like learning a language.

There are so many new things to try, which could truly help you stay distracted, and learn some personal coping mechanisms. After all, relying on other people is just one way to cope; you also need to learn to get through it alone.

10. Keep Busy

Although you may initially want to lean on your family and friends to help you with daily chores, this will be the time that you’ll want to stay as busy as possible. Staying distracted really is the key to getting over a tragic event like this. Yes, we certainly want to embrace our emotions and feelings, but we also need to find ways to cope that require us to remain active and social.

So, maybe going back to work could be a good start? Or, if you’re not quite ready for that, meeting up with friends for a drink or some food, or even just taking a long walk, could really help.

Have you Got a Story to Tell?

So, those are my top tips for coping with birthing a stillborn. There’s no doubt that this will be an uphill battle but, by leaning on those around you, and keeping distracted and busy, hopefully you’ll cope that bit better.

As we’ve discussed, one of the key ways to cope with your extreme loss after birthing a stillborn is networking with people with a similar story. So, if you have a story to tell, some feelings to vent, or just want to hear how other people are dealing with their grief, comment down below.

After all, we mothers and fathers are all in this together. If we can learn to support one another through dark times like this, we can get through anything.


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