When the baby dies before being born. How to accept the loss

When the baby dies before being born. How to accept the loss

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Pregnancy is a time of expectations, hopes and projects. A period of time in which he fantasizes about the appearance, character or tastes that the future baby will have. In this way, little by little, that little being that barely occupies a place in the womb, it is done with a great emotional space in the minds of future parents.

Consequently, the fact that 'something bad' may happen to the baby is one of the main concerns that women have when they know they are pregnant. Hearing the words that the baby has died in the womb, or that it will not survive long, is such a harsh circumstance that no one is sufficiently prepared.

For the woman or couple who receives this news, the state of shock is the most common reaction, wondering why to her, what could have happened, what could have been done to avoid it, etc.

When we speak of grief we mean to the process of preparing and accepting a loss that, under normal conditions, involves going through a series of phases or emotional states (disbelief, anger, sadness, guilt, helplessness ...), which will gradually allow the acceptance of the fact that what was so desired -the parenting project, with your expectations and illusions - has disappeared, it will not be possible ...

By accepting the loss, the energy can be put back into other projects or illusions. However, there are circumstances that make this process difficult. The duel either never begins, or it stops or blocks in some of its stages. In other words, it is not 'resolved'.

Gestational and perinatal grief given its peculiar characteristics is complicated, since it is a grief that we could call 'unauthorized', silenced, minimized. The mother or partner finds it difficult to talk about their pain because there has been no birth, burial; There are no photos or memories to share ...

It is essential to listen, recognize and validate the emotions of the parents as a way of authorizing and facilitating the beginning of mourning for the lost baby.

It is also essential that health personnel offer them all the information they need about the process they are going to go through, clearly and concisely, helping them make complicated but necessary decisions (about childbirth, rising milk ...). In this sense, and if they so decide, providing an intimate space to say goodbye to their child as they wish (hugging him, kissing him, taking pictures to remind him) is something that can contribute to the beginning of a more favorable grief.

For some people, the hardest time after losing their baby is coming home from the hospital to everyday life. It is in these moments when the help of family and friends, sometimes complemented with psychological support, can be of great help to integrate everything that happened.

Once again, it will be important to respect their decisions (they may wish to be alone at times), to be available to listen and give support, and to avoid words of 'comfort' that try to relativize their pain by hinting at the possibility, for example, of having more children as they will be able to produce the opposite effect to the desired one and will intensify their grief by minimizing their feelings.

Some families, in addition to the child they have lost, already have other children, who in turn were expecting that baby, and to whom it will be convenient to tell the truth in the simplest possible way and appropriate to their age so that they can understand what happened. In the same way, it will be essential to give them their own space to express their grief at the loss of that brother and thus authorize their own grief.

RocĂ­o Alloza Quintero
Psychologist at MaterNatal

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