Is your loved one pregnant after a loss and you’re not quite sure how to support them, or even what to say?
You are not alone in this. There’s a common assumption that they must be happy to be pregnant given their previous loss(es). This can be true and yet it’s not the full picture…
Here are some ways to better understand what your loved one may be experiencing, as they navigate Pregnancy After Loss (PAL):
- Avoid assuming that they are happy and excited. Being pregnant after a loss is bittersweet. It is complicated!
- Continue acknowledging the prior loss. The grief continues even though a new life is forming. It is important that this growing baby is not seen as a replacement for the baby that was lost. Acknowledge that these are separate pregnancies.
- We all do this when we hear someone is pregnant: we get excited about the future, talk about the due date, and potential names and start making plans. For someone who has had a loss, this can actually be quite stressful. They just do not know if everything will be ok, and given their history, you cannot reassure them of that.
- Let your loved one get past certain gestational milestones (especially the gestational date when they had their previous loss) or important ultrasounds. Ask them what the next milestone they are looking forward to instead of projecting too far ahead in pregnancy.
- When in doubt, use open-ended questions rather than making assumptions. You do not have to be a cheerleader. Your loved one just needs you to meet them where they are at. This is the best way to support.
A little acknowledgment can go a long way in supporting someone who’s pregnant after a loss. Just by you showing up, staying open-minded, and not making assumptions, you are supporting immensely. Do your best to not try to solve the problem or find silver linings, and just hold space for them to feel what they feel.