Pregnancy Anxiety after Loss

pregnancy-anxiety-after-lossIt’s weird for me to say it, but I am 14 weeks pregnant and expecting my fourth child. After a 14 month battle with infertility, I thought I would be over-the-moon when that pregnancy test finally turned positive, but I wasn’t 100% thrilled. This baby was planned and hard-worked for and – in my eyes – long overdue, but there was this lingering feeling I just couldn’t shake.

I have a big history of loss – in 8 years I have been through 12 miscarriages and pregnancy is never really simple for me. So, while we got through the first hurdle of finally getting pregnant, I was now faced with the potentially painful task of staying pregnant.

Anxiety in pregnancy after loss is not uncommon. According to a paper published in the spring 2002 issue of The Journal of Perinatal Education by Lamaze International titled “The Impact of Previous Loss on Subsequent Pregnancy and Parenting”, anxiety was the major component noted in three studies they researched, along with many other common coping mechanisms.

In my personal experience, I have a hard time attaching to the baby early on in the pregnancy. This is also not an uncommon experience noted in the study I previously mentioned. Although it was a very much wanted pregnancy, I am quite stoic about the whole process until I reach a week that I feel safer in expressing my excitement, not that it really makes much of a difference.

Becoming pregnant again after a loss can be emotionally difficult for you and your partner, but there are some ways you can manage your anxiety to help the worry go away and the bonding come in.

  • Find a supportive doctor – It may help ease your anxiety to get additional prenatal appointments to check your baby’s heartbeat. Finding a doctor who knows your history and how anxiety can be present can make all the difference.
  • Share your news with a support group – We have all heard the rule that you must not share your pregnancy news until you’ve past the risk of miscarriage. What I’ve found is that silence can often make the anxiety worse if you need support. Tell at least a few people who will support you through your first trimester because you will need it either way.
  • Try not to dwell on the “what-if’s” – It’s so hard not to continually think of all the bad things that could happen, especially when something bad has happened to you. Dwelling on all those “what-if’s” that are truly out of your control can increase your anxiety.
  • Find success stories online or in your community – There are a lot of online communities (or local support groups) who can offer insight into what to expect during pregnancy after loss; and hearing some success stories can help put your mind at ease.
  • Try not to compare your pregnancies – You always hear that no two pregnancies are alike and the same is true for each woman. If your current pregnancy feels a lot like the loss you had previously, it doesn’t automatically mean the worst will happen again.
  • Not getting excited won’t always lessen your pain – I know that I don’t usually get excited, but in my personal experience, whether I’ve allowed myself to bond with the baby or not, it all hurts the same.
  • Be involved in your care – Being involved in your prenatal care and an active participant in your health can help put some control back into your hands. Many times, women who have had a miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death feel like they have lost control and trust in their bodies; so the more you know of the medical side, the more in control you can feel.

It’s not always easy to manage the anxiety after pregnancy loss, but if you find it to be getting hard for you to manage with at-home coping techniques, be sure to check in with your doctor. Be aware of self-criticism, intense anxiety over standard prenatal testing, and other symptoms of depression which can also be present in pregnancy after loss. Getting professional help through therapy and/or medication can be safely done under the care of your doctor, and getting help is important for a healthy pregnancy.

More on Pregnancy After a Loss:
Pregnancy After Loss
Thoughts on Miscarriage
Telling Family About Pregnancy After Miscarriage [Video]

Adapted image via Flickr / c_pichler 

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Pregnancy Anxiety after Loss

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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