Steps towards a positive pregnancy after Stillbirth

Pregnant belly

It has been 12 years since my first child, Louis, was Stillborn.

I was 21 years old, 41 weeks into a healthy pregnancy and he was a large, apparently healthy baby. We never found out why he died, he was alive one moment and gone the next.

In the 12 years since his death I have gone on to build a wonderful family; I met my husband and we have two beautiful daughters. The journey to get here has been far from smooth though. Anyone who navigates subsequent pregnancies after such a loss knows exactly what I’m talking about.

It is fear rooted in experience, you know the unthinkable is possible and that changes absolutely everything.

I got lucky, my next two pregnancies resulted in healthy babies (who are now no longer babies at ages 7 and 2). The pregnancies themselves were difficult though. Gone were the days of innocently planning a water birth and taking yoga classes – instead I was frightened and a little crazy at times. These are the things that helped me, please bear in mind that everyone is different but if just one of the following helps a tiny bit then great!

Steps to a positive pregnancy after Stillbirth:

  • Talk to your midwife/consultant/family.  If you’re scared, angry or overwhelmed let them know. Make sure everyone knows. I knew I wanted a caesarean at 38 weeks (that was my way of coping, I’m not saying it’s what you should do), I felt that going to term and the stress of another natural delivery wasn’t something I could do. I had to fight for it throughout my pregnancy, but in the end, I got my way and my eldest daughter was born by caesarean at 38 weeks. I also requested extra growth scans and appointments which we got. We saw a different nurse/consultant each time and some were more sympathetic than others, but generally everyone understood. I just found I had to be very honest and very clear about what I needed. My husband’s family were all very excited about both pregnancies. As my son was born to my previous partner they hadn’t been through the experience of Stillbirth with me and naturally struggled to relate to my apprehension. It was sometimes hard to be around so much naïve excitement. However, my husband did an amazing job at understanding and helped to bridge communication when it all got too much.
  • Be prepared to tell (or not tell) your story. You’re pregnant, people are going to ask the usual questions, “Is it your first?”, “How many weeks are you?” and my personal favourite, “You must be so excited?” Yes, I am excited but I’m also completely terrified. Whether or not you give people an honest or abridged answer to these questions is entirely up to you and the situation, but be prepared. I still give differing answers to the “How many children do you have?” question depending on the person asking and how long I have to explain.
  • Seek out like minded people. The internet is a wonderful thing at times like this. I was young, I didn’t even know anyone else who had children let alone had lost a child but I found help through SANDS. Their forums are full of mums (and dads) reaching out for and with support.
  • Distraction. When pregnant and your mind is in overdrive you need to switch it off. For me, there were days when I would seriously consider just sitting in a chair counting kicks and freaking out during any quiet spells (poor baby was probably just trying to get some sleep in between me poking my tummy, jumping up and down and drinking ice cold orange juice!) but that kind of behaviour will not do you much good day in, day out. Things like going to the cinema or reading a book helped quieten my mind. So did going for a walk or swim; we all know exercise is great for calming anxiety.
  • Sleep. Easier said than done, especially when heavily pregnant, but sleep is so important. Stress and anxiety are both much worse when we are tired. I found (squeezing) into a bath and reading before bed helped. I generally have a mind that races at night, so combined with feeling anxious and I would be awake for hours stewing. I started keeping a pen and paper by my bed to write everything down, brain dump so to speak. It worked so well I still do it now!
  • Count the Kicks – So important. There is no magic number of kicks per day to watch out for but you know your baby and you know what is normal. If you have any doubts call the maternity department – hell, don’t even call just drive down there and get checked. Tell them your story, show them your notes. It’s OK to be scared and it’s OK to double check everything’s OK (or triple check if you’re me!)
  • Take it day by day – Be kind to yourself, it’s not going to be easy. Find strength in knowing you are doing everything you can to have a healthy pregnancy and a happy outcome. With that happy outcome it will be worth all the stress and anxiety, I promise.

Best of luck if you are currently pregnant after Stillbirth. If you would like to get in touch I would love to hear from you.

Xx

The List
MaternityMatters~ Mum's the Word

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20 Comments on Steps towards a positive pregnancy after Stillbirth

  1. ghostwritermummy@hotmail.co.uk'
    ghostwritermummy
    January 12, 2015 at 10:43 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Its a subject many do not want to talk about but I think its important to share and to raise awareness for other mums and babies who might go through similar.I imagine the next pregnancy is fraught with worry so having a resource like this is invaluable. Thank you for linking up to #MaternityMatters x xx

    Reply
    • Claire
      January 13, 2015 at 4:58 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you for your lovely comment – I’m really glad you saw value in the post. I know that when I was pregnant again I looked for advice from other mums but didn’t find alot, hopefully posts like this reach the people who need them.
      Xx

      Reply
  2. laurapowellcorbett@gmail.com'
    Laura @ Life with Baby Kicks
    February 21, 2015 at 4:15 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing, especially as it is such a difficult subject that people don’t mention, but it touches more people than I ever realised once I got pregnant xx

    Reply
    • Claire
      February 23, 2015 at 1:42 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you for reading.
      Xx

      Reply
  3. coconutandbloom21@gmail.com'
    Coconut and Bloom
    February 21, 2015 at 4:32 pm (3 years ago)

    I applaud you for having the courage to talk about such a sensitive subject, I am sure you will bring many woman encouragement with this post !

    Reply
    • Claire
      February 23, 2015 at 1:43 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you for your kind words, I hope the post helps someone.
      Thanks for reading.
      Xx

      Reply
  4. mumsdays@gmail.com'
    Hannah Mums' Days
    February 26, 2015 at 9:38 pm (3 years ago)

    Blood hell Claire, so tough and so incredible of you to share this and your experience xx I haven’t had a still birth but I know many people who have suffered this tragedy and how very real it is. Having this advice could provide comfort for many pregnant women. Thanks for sharing and for linking up to #TheList xxx

    Reply
    • Claire
      March 2, 2015 at 3:37 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you for your really kind comment. I do hope it is a post that is useful to someone. Pregnancy after a stillbirth is a difficult process, I spent a lot of time trying to find information regarding other people’s experiences when I was pregnant, so thought it might be helpful to share my own.
      Thanks.
      Xx

      Reply
  5. jeninonis@hotmail.com'
    Jennifer Quesada
    April 29, 2016 at 2:42 pm (1 year ago)

    Claire, thank you for sharing your experience.I lost my baby boy Ian on January 2015, i was 28 weeks pregnant.There was a moment when i thought i was going to die with sadness. Yesterday i found out i’m 5 weeks pregnant and I’m terrified, but knowing people like you make me feel positive. Thank you again.

    Reply
    • Claire
      May 1, 2016 at 7:39 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you so much for your comment and kind words. I wish you the best of luck with this pregnancy – such a difficult time that so few understand. I’ve been so lucky to have two beautiful girls after losing my son and I pray that you too have a happy outcome this time.

      Take care,
      Claire Xx

      Reply
  6. Charlotte.shanahan@gmail.com'
    Charlotte shanahan
    June 28, 2016 at 7:47 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you for sharing your story. Sounds so much like mine… I lost my son October 2015 at 22 years old for unknown causes at 39 weeks after a healthy normal pregnancy. I am now 9 weeks pregnant and so terrified. I can’t wrap my mind around how I’ll sleep let alone get through quiet spells! He was there at my appointment and then gone just like that. To know there is someone that was in my exact same situation and had a healthy outcome is helpful. Thank you 💕 – Charlotte

    Reply
    • Claire
      June 28, 2016 at 10:14 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Charlotte,
      Thank you so much for commenting, I’m glad you’ve found some helpfulness in my posts.
      My heart goes out to you for the loss of your son – it’s indescribable, isn’t it.
      Pregnancy after stillbirth is a very difficult time – I promise you I did have some calm, even happy days though amongst the more difficult.
      I found early and extra growth scans helped to calm my nerves – you should have no problem getting these if you ask. As morbid as it sounds, I also tried to accept that life had already dealt me the worst outcome and I put my faith in lightening not striking twice.
      I also had elective c-sections at 38 weeks to avoid getting to the same point of pregnancy – I must stress however that c-sections are not easy or risk free.
      I wish you the very best of luck – I’m here if you want to talk anything through.
      Xx

      Reply
      • Charlotte.shanahan@gmail.com'
        Charlotte shanahan
        July 7, 2016 at 10:55 pm (1 year ago)

        Thank you for your response. Everyday seems very long and I do have a hard time keeping the fear from overtaking the excitement. I want to bring good vibes to this new baby but it’s so difficult. It’s early days and I’m already terrified to even go into my 12 week scan this month. I have requested well politely demanded I should say to be high risk and have extra scans and weekly non stress tests weekly starting at 32 weeks. My sons delivery was obviously devastating and so cruel but did not go smoothly so doctors have advised for scheduled c section at 37 weeks. I have a hard time excepting positive comments from (the few who do know), like name ideas or which car I’ll use ex) because in my mind all I can think is I’ll think about that IF things go well. All IF’s from my end. Sorry this is so long I’ve been feeling alone and that much of my support system has faded away over the past 8 months.

        Reply
  7. Charlotte.shanahan@gmail.com'
    Charlotte shanahan
    July 7, 2016 at 10:56 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you for your response. Everyday seems very long and I do have a hard time keeping the fear from overtaking the excitement. I want to bring good vibes to this new baby but it’s so difficult. It’s early days and I’m already terrified to even go into my 12 week scan this month. I have requested well politely demanded I should say to be high risk and have extra scans and weekly non stress tests weekly starting at 32 weeks. My sons delivery was obviously devastating and so cruel but did not go smoothly so doctors have advised for scheduled c section at 37 weeks. I have a hard time excepting positive comments from (the few who do know), like name ideas or which car I’ll use ex) because in my mind all I can think is I’ll think about that IF things go well. All IF’s from my end. Sorry this is so long I’ve been feeling alone and that much of my support system has faded away over the past 8 months.

    Reply
    • Claire
      July 9, 2016 at 1:47 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Charlotte,
      I’m glad you messaged back and I’m glad to hear things are still progressing – even though I know your feeling so anxious. It really does feel like a mountain to climb at the beginning doesn’t it – I found comfort in reaching milestones (12 weeks/20 weeks/start of extra scans etc) but it is tough going. Im glad you’ve been able to get those extra scans in place (as if they could ever refuse) and that you have a birth plan in place.
      My eldest daughter was born after I started my new relationship (with my now husband), although his parents knew I had lost Louis, the rest of his family knew nothing so we had name suggestions/congratulations throughout which I found extremely stressful. I also didn’t want to ‘ruin’ the experience for my husband or his close family so I tried to bottle it up – probably quite unsuccessfully!
      How is your babies father handling things? We react so differently as individuals.
      Unfortunately that support system does fade – the initial horror of what happens dissipates for other people as life goes on. Having split up from my sons father a year after he died I felt like I became an island in my grief. I found solace in writing about it, I ran a half marathon to raise money for SANDS and I like to be able to lend an ear to talk to people like you, if it helps. I felt so alone in the years that followed Louis’s death, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
      Is there a non baby related project/something you can do over the next few weeks/months to distract yourself? It sounds trite but any distraction that helps even one day pass quicker will be worth it.
      I know you’re worried about your 12 week scan – all the scans may feel daunting. Even with my youngest daughter, with one already safely here, I was a wreak in the waiting room (the Bounty lady thought I was crazy when I wouldn’t take the bag of freebies offered before my 20 week scan – personally I think they shouldn’t be in there!!).
      I would love to hear how you are getting on, I wish you all the best. If you want to email me its joyandpops@gmail.com
      Claire x

      Reply
  8. elmedea@gmail.com'
    Lana
    August 15, 2016 at 12:30 am (1 year ago)

    Dear Claire,
    I found your blog while looking for Valencia attractions for children – your post has helped a lot. But then I read your story and wanted to thank you for being so open about this very difficult time of your life. I have a 7 year old son and had a missed miscarriage confirmed on New Year´s eve 2016, so I had a very hard week dealing with that and your story has helped me looking at this experience in a perspective, so thank you for that once again!

    Reply
  9. ayushishah20@gmail.com'
    Ayushi shah
    January 2, 2017 at 8:25 am (9 months ago)

    Hey Claire
    I know how devastating and emotionally challenging can such a loss be. I applaud your efforts to help women going through similar tough times. I just delivered stillborn twin girls around 20 days back and finding it hell difficult to accept what happened in a fraction of a second. I am equally scared for my next pregnancy right from “whether i will be able to conceive again?” to “will i have a healthy baby in my arms next time?”
    Thousands of questions and lot of fear dwells in my mind. I feel so much helpless at times. Your article has given me a ray of hope, though a slightest one! But thankyou very much to atleast putting me on a better track. Kudos to you for being so brave!

    Reply
    • Claire
      January 17, 2017 at 9:27 pm (8 months ago)

      I am so sorry for your recent loss, I struggle to comprehend the grief you must be feeling at this time.
      I wish you all the very best, it will take time but I promise it is possible to move forward – even if you never get over it.
      If you want to talk just email.
      Claire x

      Reply
  10. improveyourlife@hotmail.ca'
    Melissa
    April 22, 2017 at 10:43 pm (5 months ago)

    Hi Claire,
    Thank you for writing this post. It helps so much to know I am not alone in this as much as I wish no one else had to endure this pain. Our son was born April 1, 2016 at 33 weeks still and I did not know how I would ever go on without him. As you know unfortunately life has to go on and it definitely does more so for other people while we felt like we were standing still. Just before his 11 months we found out we were pregnant again. We have our 12 week scan with a high risk OB on Tuesday and I feel like I am losing my mind. Every ultrasound just seems so scary at this point and probably always will I think. We have had two early scans and it seemed like everything was fine but who knows. Our son, Lachlan was born and after all the testing there were no issues at all, he was perfectly healthy so how can I ever find happiness in ultrasounds that tell me this baby is healthy when even after he died they couldn’t find a reason? This life and PAL is so difficult but thank you for this writing as it helped to understand I’m not the only one.

    Reply
    • Claire
      May 2, 2017 at 1:40 pm (5 months ago)

      Hi Melissa,
      Thank you so much for writing. I really hope your scan went well and you were able to gain some reassurance from the process.
      I do understand your feeling regarding the scans – I felt the same. For just a moment during and after each scan I would feel a sense of relief that everything was ok, but by the time we were driving home I was back to the same state of mid-level panic that seemed to dominate my pregnancies.
      All I can tell you is that although both my daughter’s pregnancies seemed to last a lifetime and were filled with so much struggle and stress, it was a time that I did overcome and get through – one day at a time. As trite as it may sound, the only way is straight through, focusing on the smallest milestones.
      Ultrasounds will probably never have that same excitement as they did during your first pregnancy but try to take some small measure of hope at least from them and focus on getting to know this baby.
      I’d love to know how you get on.
      Claire x

      Reply

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