Pregnancy After Loss

If you’re pregnant or TTC after a loss, it’s understandable to experience numerous conflicting feelings. 

Holding space for both the joy, and the grief. The excitement, and the fear. The looking towards the future with hope and the looking back with grief.  Celebrating your rainbow babies and grieving your babies gone too soon. There are definitely no binaries.

It’s completely understandable you’re desperately hoping for a corrective and different experience, while also being terrified. It makes sense you might be holding your breath while also trying your best to be present. Grieving and trying to be grateful.

Clients have described subsequent pregnancy after loss as a 9 month long panic attack. The feeling of holding breath. Of not feeling able to connect with this pregnancy until certain milestones have passed: 1st trimester, 1st ultrasound, genetic testing, etc.  There might be a constant feeling of protecting of one’s heart, second guessing every decision and the magical thinking that comes with it (will buying a car seat now doom me to have a bad outcome? Should I wait?).

Magical thinking and superstitions are also really common when pregnant or TTC after a loss.

Perhaps you’ve experienced this..It certainly doesn’t mean you’re crazy. It makes sense that you’re trying to protect your heart, and “control the controllable” when you’ve lost all sense of predictability and innocence.This can look like:

◽️Second guessing every decision (will buying a car seat now doom me to lose this pregnancy? Should I wait?)

◽️Indecisiveness (similar to above, worrying that doing something will “cause” a bad outcome so you feel paralyzed by choices)

◽️Thought/action fusion (believing that if you think it, it will come true, such as worrying that you’ve had intrusive thoughts about losing this baby, or being ambivalent about being pregnant, that means something or will happen)

◽️Feeling like you can’t do certain activities until after milestones have passed (not telling people until after the 2nd trimester, not having a baby shower until the 3rd, not buying anything until the anatomy scan, etc.)

◽️Superstitions like believing you have to avoid certain things, or have to do certain things in a certain order, or else bad things might happen (beyond your MD’s recommendations, these might be things like avoiding your favorite restaurant because you ate there the last time you were pregnant, etc.)

I could go on and on. There’s many ways this can show up, and there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re experiencing this. It’s self protective.

We know that having a pregnancy loss also increases your chances for having a Perinatal Mood or Anxiety Disorder (PMAD) when having a baby in the future.  Specifically, we notice that anxiety, OCD, and trauma symptoms tend to worsen the most. How could it not? With everything you’re holding at once, it’s so much to process. So much for the heart to bear.

The bottom line is, that whatever you are experiencing in beginning to think about trying to conceive, or throughout your pregnancy, you are not alone. You don’t have to sit in isolation with these conflicting emotions and thoughts. 

Support groups and therapy can be beneficial to help you sort through what you need, and what you’re feeling. It can even be helpful to create a tangible pregnancy and postpartum plan, drawing upon your own internal wisdom, and connecting with your support network. There is one in my Healing From Reproductive Trauma book to help inspire you and give you some ideas of where to start. You definitely don’t have to white knuckle it through this experience by yourself.

 You deserve quality support, and more ideas for support can be found here