Pregnancy after loss is an emotional rollercoaster. It can be filled with fear, joy, guilt, love, excitement, grief, relief, pressure, exhaustion... and a whole lot of anxiety. This is 100% normal, and it's completely okay to feel all these things at the same time.
As I currently navigate my 10th pregnancy after recurrent loss, I bounce all the time between excitement and fear, anxiety and joy. I dream about holding a newborn and then tell myself to not get my hopes up in case I jinx it. I am very much aware of the realities of pregnancy and all the the things that can go wrong.
I often get severe anxiety before ultrasounds, and spiral into a panic if they are taking too long or they are too quick or if they aren't showing me the screen right away. Ultrasound anxiety is a very real thing, and many women have told me they have experienced the same thing.
I also experience anxiety around every gestational stage we lost our previous babies at. I would think "if we just get over 5 weeks, or 9 weeks, or 16 weeks, or 20... then we are in the clear." This can be immobilizing, and is common amongst women navigating pregnancy after loss.
So what are some ways we can manage all this anxiety that comes up when pregnant after loss?
Here are 6 things that have helped me navigate this current pregnancy.
1. Make Space for Grief + Joy
Allow yourself to feel all the feelings, and don't feel like you need to move through them quickly. Cry and laugh when you need to for as long as you need to. Feel anger and joy, and all the feelings. It's ok. It's normal.
Take time to bond with baby (talk to them, buy something for them, write letters to them), and also take time to remember the ones you lost (wear a piece of jewelry that symbolizes them, talk about them, say their names, hand artwork in your house that reminds you of them).
2. Speak Positive Affirmations
When anxious thoughts come up, remind yourself of what is true in that moment.
- "Right now I am still pregnant"
- "I know right now everything is OK"
- "My doctors are taking good care of me"
- "I trust my body knows what to do"
- and as you get further along, "Right now I can feel my baby move"
3. Regular "Self Care" + Healing
Find what is healing for you. Experiment, try new things, see what fits. Prioritize emotional + physical self care. Speak positive affirmations to yourself, try prayer or meditation, journal, therapy, yoga, writing, singing, creating things, reading, hiking, try all the things. Eat healthy, move your body, go get massages. Do whatever you need to do to help you on your healing journey, and to help reduce the anxiety during your pregnancy.
4. Advocate for Yourself
Often times in the medical system our fears and anxieties are brushed aside and we are told we "worrying for nothing.” Get as much reassurance as you need. Get a midwife or a doula who is experienced in advocating for birthers. Have someone walking alongside you who will fight for you and with you. Don’t brush anything off, go and checked out even if it's just for your own ease of mind and mental health
5. Build a Community Around You
Build a community around yourself who gets it. It is really healing having people around you saying 'me too, I thought those things too' it helps validate you and your feelings. Know as well that you may outgrow relationships, it may be hard to be around certain people, and that's ok. It is really important to have this community around you when baby comes, because navigating parenting after loss is not easy.
6. Remember to Be Easy on Yourself
Navigating pregnancy after loss is not easy. It can be plagued with worries and your body is growing and adjusting to life growing within you. Take time to rest and remember to be easy on yourself.
Know that I am rooting for you, and if you need any extra support during your pregnancy after loss please reach out to me!