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Behind the veil of miscarriage and grief

Behind the veil of miscarriage and grief

By Dr Maria Renee Boulton, GP

Sadly not all pregnancies progress to a happy ending. A quarter of pregnancies will miscarry in the first trimester, some pregnancies will not proceed past the second or third trimester, and some babies will sadly pass away at birth, shortly before birth or soon thereafter.

Not only do the expectant parents have to cope with grief but also the loss of the dreams that were carried in the womb. Dreams of seeing their baby in the nursery they prepared so lovingly will remain just that, dreams.

Grief, like depression, is something that is difficult to describe or understand unless you have been in the same situation. There is no manual for grief and no right way to grieve. Words that are said by well-meaning family or friends may be meaningless and at times hurtful.

Some of you may need the help of a doctor or a counsellor. Some of you may find solace in support groups. Grief may become more acute on the anniversary of your baby’s passing, occasions such as Christmas or when your family or friends give birth.

Grief can result in strained personal relationships as you and your partner may grieve in different ways. It is important to understand that you are both going through your own journey but if you keep the lines of communication open then you may find each other again at the end of your journeys. Be patient with yourself and your partner and give each other time to grieve.

Who to turn to for help?

Your partner, family and friends will try to support you as best as they can, however, you may find that they may not know what to say or do in the face of your grief. A friend of mine told me once that she appreciated my sending her a birthday card for her baby who passed away a year earlier, and that I was one of the only two people who did.

She felt that through my card someone else was remembering and grieving with her for her baby. Consider letting family and friends know what you need from them so they can provide you with the right support.

If you have a caring GP or a counsellor, go to see them, they are there to help you.

Some of you may find support groups helpful. For example:

  • SANDS Australia-miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death support. Their phone number is 03) 9895 870. Their website is www.sands.org.au.
  • Bears of Hope-support for families who experience the loss of their baby. Their phone number is 1300 11 HOPE (4673). Their website is www.bearsofhope.org.au.
  • Lifeline is another great source of support. Their phone number is 13 11 14. Their website is www.lifeline.org.au.

Sometimes grief can be so intense that you may start relying on recreational drugs or alcohol or even feel suicidal, if so, please seek professional help as soon as possible.

Some hospitals provide a special service through which a midwife is employed to help and support pregnant women who have suffered loss in previous pregnancies. This is because subsequent pregnancies can bring with them increased anxiety.

A good doctor will recognise and provide you with added support if you have suffered from loss, grief, or challenges before. So please share with them what you have been through.

This post is an excerpt from Dr Maria Boulton’s book “Mum’s guide on pregnancy”.

Dr Maria Renee Boulton, GP

Dr Maria Renee Boulton, GP, wife and mother of 2, has enjoyed working in general practice for 12 years. 

Dr Maria has always enjoyed working with mothers, babies and children, all the more so since starting her own family. Dr Maria works in general practice at Family Doctors Plus in Windsor, Brisbane, Australia.

She has recently published her first book “Mum’s Guide to Pregnancy”- a must have for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy. You can contact Dr Maria at maria@drmairaboulton.com.au or visit her websites drmariaboulton.com.au or familydoctorsplus.com.au. You can follow her on Facebook on facebook.com/DrMariaBoulton.

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