Postpartum After Loss : You’re Still Postpartum

Trigger warning: discussing postpartum after a loss, miscarriage, late miscarriage.

A huge thanks to you, dear mama. Your willingness and strength to help others is inspiring. It was an honour to read about your experience and your sweet boy.

Recently, I posed a question to my trusted mom group.
“What was the most difficult or unexpected part of postpartum?”

I received responses that I predicted I would, “the sleeplessness”, “difficulties with partners”, “breastfeeding”. Then there it was, the response I didn’t expect and the one that stuck the most.

“I wasn’t expecting to have such a postpartum experience”. She was referring to her postpartum experience following the birth of her son at 18 weeks.

I approached her days later with curiosity, still thinking about what she had said. She wrote with eloquence as she gave me a glimpse into her birth and postpartum experience following her late miscarriage. I absorbed every beautiful word she typed as she described the birth of her sleeping angel and enduring a postpartum without him, what was left unsaid and what she didn’t expect so that we can help bring to light the postpartum experience after loss and acknowledge that you are still postpartum.

There will still be a physical recovery. You will bleed and it can be much like bleeding after a term birth. Hormones will need to return to a pre-pregnancy state as well. You may be sore from labouring and delivery as well as fatigued. Your body may begin producing breastmilk, which can be a very emotional process following a late miscarriage. The physical recovery process can take several weeks depending on how far long you were in the pregnancy.  Your physical recovery should be discussed with a healthcare provider; however, this is not always the case and many are often left to navigate the recovery period alone. You have a right to ask questions and get answers.

The emotional recovery from a miscarriage can be difficult. Emotions are often described as guilt, anger, grief, and jealousy but everyone one will process and experience their feelings differently. How you feel is valid. I think it’s important to note that as mentioned, everyone processes their experiences differently and this includes partners and siblings to the baby. Open communication with your partner regarding your grieving process can help maintain a connection as you both process this heavy loss. You can request that people don’t send cards, so you don’t have constant reminders showing up in the mail or flowers that require your attention when that’s not where you want your attention to be. You get to choose how you grieve and you get to decide what works for you. There are wonderful mental health professionals who can help in the emotional healing process.

Often times there is no preparing for this type of heartbreak. If it is possible, ask questions about hospital policy for a late miscarriage, if you are able (or demand) to see and hold your baby if you desire and for how long.

Postpartum Doula care is still an option following a loss. My job is to mother the mother and that’s exactly what I will do. You’re still a mother, you’re still postpartum and you still deserve care. That includes everything from the general tidying, meal prep to a safe space to process and information on recovery, such as stopping milk production if that is what you desire. If you choose to and need help putting together a ritual for your little one, I’m there. I do not guide your grieving; you are the guide. I witness and walk with you.

Healing is not linear and there is no timeline.
Your pregnancy matters, your baby matters, you matter.

Wise words and photo provided by this incredible mama:
“Very precious photos to me. So glad we took some. I would encourage everyone to [take pictures]. Even if it feels too sad in the moment.”

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