When grief takes over

My second pregnancy coincided with a difficult period of my life.

There was a serious family health crisis, an abundance of personal issues and a ten month old baby to look after.

Having gone through IVF to fall pregnant the first time, this baby was a complete surprise, a little miracle I was ever so grateful for, despite the timing.

As the pregnancy progressed, things got more difficult.

My stress levels were high. I was frequently sad.

Severe morning sickness prompted feelings of guilt that I was too sick to be a “good mum” to my toddler.

And as all of these feelings continued to build inside me, I was terrified I was putting my unborn baby at risk.

We constantly hear well-meaning proclamations that stress can cause miscarriage, anxiety can result in a fretful baby, and a healthy body and mind is crucial for our developing babies.

And while we all want happiness, particularly during pregnancy, sometimes, no matter how hard we try, sadness takes over, stress dominates or anxiety reins.

The tendency is to fight those feelings, with the resulting fear only adding to already heightened emotions.

And what of those who experience a death during pregnancy?

You simply can’t fight grief.

And according to psychologist Dr Joann Lukins, you shouldn’t try to.

“The most important thing is for the person to allow themselves to grieve.

“It is far better to experience the emotions than to try and push them away and pretend they aren’t there.

“Bottling your emotions doesn’t help you and releasing feelings of great sadness is an important part of moving forward and healing.”

It’s important to remember that women have given birth to healthy babies in the most difficult of circumstances – through grief, divorce, even after battling on the frontline.

Although you can’t make sadness go away, there are things you can do to manage your negative emotions, says Dr Lukins, which is particularly important for your own health during pregnancy.

Practice good self-care

“It is important to be kind to yourself – rest when you need to, cry when you need to, look after yourself, try to eat well, get outside into the fresh environment, and talk to others if you wish to, whether it’s friends or a professional.”

Experience happiness when it comes along

“Imagine you are 4 months pregnant and experience a loss in October.  It is ok if on Christmas day you experience some joy.

“People often feel guilty for feeling happy in times of sadness.  Life is about experiencing a range of emotions – it’s ok to smile.”

Accept and acknowledge your feelings

“Grief offers a melting pot of human emotions: denial and disbelief, sadness, anger, fear, depression, fondness, love, acceptance.

“There is no rule book.

“Accept the emotions you are feeling and if they become overwhelming, seek help – talk to a friend, a family member, a counsellor, a GP, a minister – anyone who will listen and support you.”

Don’t add worry and grief to the mix

After a tumultuous period during my pregnancy, my baby was born happy and healthy, relaxed and calm and remained that way into childhood.

So if you are going through a rough time, don’t worry or feel guilty for being sad or angry, but rather pop your hands on your tummy, and take comfort in the fact that you have a little person by your side, expecting nothing more from you than love.

And no amount of sadness can take that away.