Coping with Stillbirth

Losing a baby during pregnancy can be a very traumatic and painful experience.  Nothing that you can do can prepare you for this loss, either.  This is especially true in the case of a stillbirth, as a stillbirth takes place much further into pregnancy than a miscarriage does.

Grief is the most common emotion that parents who experience a stillbirth have to cope with.  The loss of your baby may be very difficult, and it may affect you for a lot longer than those around you.  In many ways, because it is you who has been carrying your baby, you will probably feel this loss more profoundly and more intensely than others.  Some of the normal feelings that can occur when you experience a stillbirth might include:

–  A feeling of loneliness and isolation.

–  Unexplained crying.

–  Guilt.

–  Anger and blame.

–  A loss of appetite.

–  A sense of despair.

–  A lack of concentration.

–  A loss of memory.

–  A feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.

–  Feelings of depression.

This grieving process can be exhausting, both emotionally as well as physically.  During this process, it is important to seek help if you need it.  Sometimes, this may be as simple as talking about the stillbirth with a good friend or with your spouse.  It may be that, if you have prolonged or intense feelings of depression, that you need to talk to a mental health professional, such as a grief counselor.

Keep in mind, also, that not everyone will experience grief in the same way that you do.  Your husband, for example, may be hurting deep down just as much as you are, but may be unable or unwilling to express those feelings.  Friends and family might appear to be callous and cold, when they really just don’t know exactly what to say to help encourage you to cope with the stillbirth.

If you have experienced a stillbirth and have had severe thoughts of depression, or have had thoughts about hurting yourself or others, you should contact your health care provider immediately.  Depression can be treated effectively, but it can also be disastrous if left untreated.

Leila Pereira
Leila Pereira
I work in occupational therapy and occupational science. I specialize in early intervention pediatrics for children from birth to three years old; with an emphasis on children with autism. My goals are to support the achievement of developmental milestones in your child while collaborating with caregivers & parents; including play skill development, education, leisure, rest and sleep, feeding, nutrition and social participation. Licensed by the California Board of Occupational Therapy

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