The Baby Leads: supporting the emotional needs of parents pregnant after loss
by J.M. O’Leary, C. Thorwick, L. Parker, and K. Ragland (ed.)
The loss of a baby during pregnancy or in the newborn period is said to be one of the most devastating events parents can undergo. All pregnancies are life-altering events but the loss of a child before the parent is never expected. Children are not supposed to die before us. As one father explains; I don’t think that people understand what it is like to lose a child, unless they have.
While the pregnancy that follows loss often paves the way toward healing, it also brings with it many conflicting emotions. Parents often struggle to attach to the new baby as the grief for the baby who died resurfaces, emotions which family and friends may not understand. Death does not negate one’s role as a parent. The deceased baby, a sibling to the new unborn baby, remains a part of the family forever.
Perinatal loss occurs in approximately 30% of all pregnancies and it is estimated that up to 86% of these families go on to have another pregnancy . Because what happened around birth is so indelibility imprinted painful memories of the previous loss can alter parents’ ability to once again have faith in the process of pregnancy. This book offers a developmental framework for understanding how the tasks of pregnancy are altered when parents have experience a loss. Losses may include infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death or loss within a multi-fetal pregnancy. We have learned from parents, given guidance and support, grief for a deceased baby and attachment to a new unborn baby can be worked with simultaneously.
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