How to Navigate Pregnancy After Loss

By Jess Pacchione

July 21, 2020

Jess is a Pediatric Nurse, supporting families as The Mama Coach in Portland, OR. She is a Mama herself to the funniest baby boy (admittedly she's a little biased) and a handsome Vizsla pup. Also, her husband can tell you who won any NCAA Final Four game since 1985.

So you’ve experienced the loss of a baby. Maybe he was still an embryo. Maybe she was full term. Maybe he was 11 weeks, or 20 weeks, or 24. Losing a pregnancy, a baby, no matter how small, is devastating. Check out my last article here for tips on coping with miscarriage if you are still in the midst of your loss. 

You’re pregnant again. You’ve made it through your loss and here you are on the other side. Maybe it took you years to get here, maybe just one cycle, but either way you’re here. Now what? How do you trust your body again, when she betrayed you before? How are you supposed to feel joy when all you can think about is the possibility of losing this little one too? Well, I’ve been there. And it’s not easy. But let’s talk about some ways that might help. 

Do the work of grieving your loss fully.

If we don’t fully grieve our loss, allowing the time and space for the sadness, we run the risk of stuffing our feelings, trying to move on too quickly, and those feelings exploding out of us at a later time. Not allowing yourself to grieve can also prevent you from getting to a place of full joy with your new baby. So take the time, do the work. You’ll enjoy this next pregnancy so much more. 

Get an early ultrasound (if that’s what you need). 

Many OB’s and Midwives will see a standard pregnant mama for her first visit around 10-12 weeks. With my first pregnancy, I wasn’t seen until 11 weeks, at which point my baby had no heartbeat. So the next time around, I called the day I found out I was pregnant and was able to schedule an early confirmation ultrasound at 6 weeks. I was then seen at 6, 8, and 10 weeks, each time with an ultrasound to watch for that little flash of a heartbeat. The doctor was kind and allowed space for my fear. He let me cry and provided reassurance. Those early views of baby’s heartbeat got me through those scary, early weeks.

Buy an item that is just for this new baby, something small but special. 

Picking out something special for your baby can help give you something tangible to look at, hold, and feel when your baby is still too tiny to feel growing inside you. For me, it was a small stuffed animal, a really soft raccoon. I would see it and smile, imagining my baby holding it someday. If I needed something tangible to remind me I was growing a baby, I would grab the raccoon and hold it, sometimes while I slept, sometimes while I read or watched a movie. It just helped to be able to touch something that was just for this baby.

Post your ultrasound photos where you’ll see them daily. 

Once you get those first heartbeat photos, post them up on your mirror or your fridge, somewhere that you’ll see them every day. Picture that little bean growing, getting stronger. Smile at the pictures, let yourself imagine. It really does help to have the visual reminder that there is a tiny baby in there, especially before you can see a bump or feel a flutter. 

Invite trusted friends in to walk with you, to celebrate, and to help hold your fears. 

With my first pregnancy, we told a wide range of friends really early on. We were just too excited to hold it in. This time, I knew I wanted to be more discerning of who I invited in. I also know I didn’t want to sit alone in my fear. So I chose a few close friends to invite into my journey, and I’m so glad I did. They celebrated when I was too anxious. They reminded me of the joy. They walked alongside me and helped affirm and hold my fears when I needed that. 

Congratulations on your new pregnancy, I am so excited for you. I also know how scary it can be when you’ve walked through loss before. You are not alone. If you need some extra support or a nurse in your corner, reach out to your local mama coach. She’d love to walk with you. 

And if you’re ready, sign up for our free prenatal email series. You’ll receive weekly educational emails, tailored to your pregnancy. 

You got this, mama.

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