Pregnancy and Baby Loss Awareness Month

October is Pregnancy and Baby Loss Awareness Month

Worldwide, October is recognised as Pregnancy and Baby Loss Awareness Month #pregnancyandbabylossawarenessmonth, a time to remember the babies lost too soon, and to stand in solidarity with the moms living with the greatest loss of all. A big step towards healing and a way to honour the little ones lost, is to say their names and to tell the stories.

At the Fertility Show Africa 2021, Dr Mandy Rodrigues, resident clinical psychologist at Medfem Fertility Clinic, broached the intensely emotional topic of dealing with pregnancy or infant loss, giving moms an opportunity to tell their stories. We share some of these stories in the article, and you are also welcome to watch the video by following this link:

How does one survive the loss and grief following the loss of a baby? Millions of women face this grief and loss at some point in the process childbearing – from negative pregnancy tests and early miscarriages to late miscarriages, prematurity, still birth and the loss of an infant after birth.

Many women remain silent, seemingly alone in their pain. And they are still grieving decades after their loss because, says Dr Rodrigues, the grief doesn’t go away. There is no closure. Not even another child can make up for the one you lost. The grief just changes, and it also changes us. And you just learn, somehow, to move on.

However, talking about the experience and saying the names of the little ones lost are very important steps in the healing process. Here are the stories of some of the women who spoke up, shared here to ensure that other moms who experienced such a loss will know they are not alone.

Two years ago, I suffered an ectopic pregnancy. On arrival at the hospital, I was admitted into the maternity ward because that’s where all my gynae’s patients go. My baby had to be removed from my fallopian tube to save my life. I came out of theatre and was placed back in the maternity ward, full of newborn babies and moms. But all I could hear all night was the cries of babies all around me. It made it seem so unfair, and made my loss so much harder! I could also hear the nurses whispering outside my room: don’t worry, there is no baby in there, you don’t have to help the mom.

I had a still born baby years ago. It was absolutely devastating. There was no one to encourage me to see my baby or to have a photo taken. I felt totally heartbroken and empty, and just didn’t know what to do with myself. As the time moved on, I was devastated that I never got to see her or hold her. I never got to take a photo of her. It became my biggest regret. It’s now been over 10 years and I’m still haunted by what happened to me.

Lizelle was the daughter I had so longed for, but she would be the reason for my story in which life and death collide. When you lose a child, you lose so much more: your hopes and dreams for and with them also die.

He lived for a day. And eventually at five past 12 that evening, they came in and said, ‘we think it’s time that you come’. The hardest thing for me is that I’d had a Caesar and, unfortunately, I couldn’t get to him the whole day in the NICU. So, I hadn’t actually ever got to hold him alive. My husband ran up there and managed to get Ty’s last breaths in and see him before he passed. But I think it’s more about what happens afterwards. The nurses had no idea how to deal with a mom that had lost a baby, they just wanted to know what’s happening with the body, where must it go? When you lose a child, it’s the last thing that you think about. If only they had helped us get pictures of our son, or a little hand or footprint of our son, it would have added a lot of closure to how we still feel eight years later.

I was heartbroken and grieving. And I have grieved my baby every single day since 2014. Every day and every time I think about it, no matter how much time goes by, my heart still hurts. I just wish that there was a little more empathy in all of it.

I needed to talk about him. I wanted him to be remembered. People ask you how many kids do you have? And if you say you have these many kids, and you don’t include him into that number, then you get to your car and you cry, because you feel so guilty for not acknowledging his life. My husband, in the beginning, found it really hard to speak about him, and I just wanted to speak about him.

My perfect little angel, she didn’t even look sick. The night she passed, when they told us that she passed, I started hitting my husband as if it was his fault. And I was just screaming: it’s our baby, it’s our baby. They asked me if we would like to see her one last time. And I said yes. But they told me that I cannot hold her one last time. I can’t touch her. I can’t even kiss her. So, I couldn’t even say bye to my daughter.

Coping with grief

The well-known Kübler-Ross ‘stage theory’ of grief proposes that the grief process proceeds along a series of predictable stages, including shock and denial, anger, resentment and guilt, depression, and finally acceptance.

Dr Rodrigues says that while the grief cycle looks very neat on paper, in real life it is a far messier process, and it impacts on all areas of the person’s life. In addition, when losing a child, parents face a relentless grief cycle, deep depression caused by grief coupled with postnatal depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

At Medfem Fertility Clinic, our team recognises the extraordinary impact recurrent pregnancy loss and the loss of a baby can have on a couple’s well-being. For this reason, counselling and support is part of the package at Medfem Fertility Clinic.

Speaking to a counsellor that understands the unique stresses of pregnancy or infant loss can be immensely helpful, as is learning about coping mechanisms that are relevant and proven effective for many couples who have experienced it.

Effective counselling can help you process the implications a pregnancy or infant loss has for you as a couple, to put it in the context of your life and relationships, and to assist you to realise that you are not alone in coping with this life crisis.

A good therapist will also assist you in sorting out emotions and feelings, help you to communicate with others more clearly and strengthen already present coping skills while helping you to develop new coping strategies.

If you would like to know more, or to meet our experienced resident counsellor, Dr Mandy Rodrigues, who focusses on infertility and specialises in miscarriage and infant loss and has decades of experience in helping couples cope with the stress of infertility and pregnancy loss, we invite you to connect with us by simply clicking here or contacting us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.

You can also meet with an expert during a Virtual Consultation Via Zoom or Skype. Click here to book a virtual consultation now.



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