Grief and Birth

Photo by  Claudia  on  Unsplash

Photo by Claudia on Unsplash

Today’s post is brief (it’s been a busy, busy week around here) but important. I want to talk about the role that grief plays in birth. Obviously, grief is present during any loss, a loss of a baby or a pregnancy or a partner. But grief shows up in more subtle ways as well.

Any change or transition in a person’s life, no matter how joyful, can bring with it feelings of grief. Maybe you had the birth experience you always hoped for, but it’s completely normal to miss being pregnant or even miss your life from before Baby was born. Maybe moving into the role of a parent and letting go of other roles in your life is hard. Change is hard. It’s ok to give yourself space to miss what you had before, even within the joy of your new life.

Grief also frequently shows up during a stressful or unexpected birth. I’ve had clients whose hopes for a vaginal or home birth disappear when a C-section becomes necessary or an induction. I always give them as much time as possible, even if it’s just a few minutes, to grieve the birth experience they thought they would have. Then we talk about what they might need to find peace and comfort in the birth that’s unfolding in front of them. It’s ok to have hopes and wishes for your birth, and it’s ok to be sad if those don’t come true. Many family members, friends and even care providers stress how grateful new parents should be that they and their baby are healthy, but this minimizes the loss that these folks might be feeling. Of course they’re grateful to be healthy and safe, but they may not have felt safe during the process of meeting their baby. They need space to feel that and be heard and validated.

So if you find yourself feeling sad or nostalgic or angry or in disbelief or you see or sense these feelings in a new parent, create space and gentleness for those feelings. Joy and grief and many other emotions can exist together.

Have a peaceful weekend!

Maggie MehrComment