“up to one in four women will lose a baby during pregnancy or birth” (Tommy’s, 2017) Given the statistics early pregnancy and infant loss is still a subject rarely talked about. It’s often a silent loss, known only by those who knew about the pregnancy in those first few weeks or much a wider affair at the later stages. It’s when excitement suddenly turns to grief and people experience difficulties with the loss. It is a loss that is so often seen as out of the order of life’s events.
Having trained and volunteered with Cruse Bereavement in Cornwall my bereavement knowledge was fairly comprehensive. However, reflecting on this experience I identified the gap in my knowledge and was rapidly becoming aware of just how common this type of loss is. This training was an opportunity to explore as fully as possible how this type of loss may impact on people’s lives. While never wanting to lose sight of the individuals experience or understanding the difficulties they are experiencing in the moment, it provided me an opportunity to explore how to create an environment that allows the person or couple to explore their own feelings around the loss. It also provided me with an opportunity to consider the complexities around pregnancy, stillborn and early infant loss and what can be done during that difficult time.
Chantal Lockey created online learning material which detailed a mother’s first-hand experience of losing their child. As a result of the loss of her 6 week old daughter, Chantal wanted to share her experience, raise awareness and help break down barriers in order to help others. A decade on, and the Foundation for Infant Loss Training is well established and recognised by many.
The training material provided an overview of infant loss, the initial emotional and physical reactions to pregnancy and infant loss, a parent’s perspective of loss, when a baby dies (what to expect as a professional i.e. those in attendance), a baby that dies in hospital, a baby’s funeral care, memory boxes, relationships after pregnancy and infant loss, including the difference in how men and women may grieve, returning to work and life after loss, including subsequent children, family inclusion and milestones.
I originally completed my training back in 2014 and this year Chantal has changed the delivery format of the training and additional information has been added, bringing me more up to date. This covers termination, subsequent pregnancies after loss, grief theory, when a twin dies, infertility, relationship issues after loss, supporting children after loss, pre and post-natal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. I’m really pleased to see this additional information as these aspects are really important especially the post-traumatic stress. This is an area of considerable importance and has not always been recognised.
Sadly pregnancy and early infant loss is difficult to talk about; people just don’t know what to say. On the whole within society we have moved more towards recognising the importance of acknowledging such a loss but there is still much work to be done.
Recently Coronation Street featured a story following the loss of a baby to character Michelle Connor, played by Kym Marsh who herself tragically lost her own son at a similar stage of pregnancy over eight years ago (Digital Spy, 2017). The storyline followed the impact such a loss can have on people. This was challenging also for Simon Gregson, who plays onscreen husband Steve McDonald. He and his wife Emma have lost 11 babies, including one at 21 weeks and 4 days (Hello, 2017). The programme faced the tragic loss of a baby and followed the parents, close family and friends grief and hi-lighted the differences between people and how they grieve, in particular men and women.
As a result of this training my bereavement knowledge now includes early pregnancy and infant loss and bereavement and can be helpful throughout my work with individuals, couples or groups. Over the next few weeks I will review 2 possibly 3 books that may be of particular use to those that have experienced a loss or know someone that has. You may find the article written by Hadley Freeman (2018) useful on, “What do you say to a friend who has just lost a child? I should know by now”
If you feel you would benefit from meeting others who have experienced a pregnancy or early infant loss and bereavement please contact me to discuss attending a Support Group. Individual and couple counselling is also available if you prefer.
Contact Julie on 07929 953978
Picture: cocoparisienne. (2018) ‘Drop of water.’ [Online] Available at: https://pixabay.com/en/drop-of-water-beaded-raindrop-drip-862316/ (Accessed: 21 February 2018)
Freeman, H. (2018) ‘What do you say to a friend who has just lost a child? I should know by now.’ [Online]https://www.t Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/feb/17/bereaved-friends-hadley-freeman?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other (Accessed: 21 February 2018)
Kilkelly, D. (2017) Coronation Street’s Kym Marsh on Michelle Connor’s baby loss: ‘I wanted to honour my son Archie’ [Online] Available at: http://www.digitalspy.com/soaps/coronation-street/interviews/a818806/kym-marsh-miscarriage-baby-coronation-street/ (Accessed: 12 June 2017)
Strong, G. (2017) ‘Coronation Street star Simon Gregson reveals wife Emma has suffered 11 devastating miscarriages.’ [Online] Available at: https://www.hellomagazine.com/celebrities/2017011235716/simon-gregson-reveals-wife-miscarriages/ (Accessed: 16 February 2018)
Tommy’s. (2017) ‘Statistics about pregnancy.’ [Online] Available at: https://www.tommys.org/our-organisation/why-we-exist/pregnancy-statistics (Accessed: 12 June 2017)