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Taboo subject where they exist, the loss of a baby, even more so if it was not yet born. How difficult it is to assume death, when in reality we expect life. Unfortunately, this occurs more than we think and has a name: perinatal grief.
In Spain, one in four pregnancies does not reach term, that is, 25% of pregnancies are lost at some point during pregnancy. Most of them in the first weeks of pregnancy, before week twelve, but also in later weeks, in the second trimester and even at term.
Society detracts from loss when it occurs with a few weeks of pregnancy, but the reality is that it is a loss and, therefore, a mourning is carried out, which as its name indicates is painful, and we must allow it and respect it.
As I said at the beginning, it is a taboo subject, therefore, many times we are not aware that this can happen. As a midwife, I try to raise awareness especially on social media about this issue, but also in my work. It is essential that women know this reality, that at the beginning of the pregnancy they know that there is a possibility that their pregnancy did not come to an end, not at least with a living baby, because when the possibility of this happening is contemplated and it is understood that it can happen, one lives in a way very different.
The midwives who accompany births at home, during one of the visits to the family at home, speak to them about this, about perinatal death, at any time during pregnancy, even during the delivery itself. Sometimes, it also happens and not just being in a hospital can "solve" any complication. It is a very harsh reality, but we must be aware of it. However, throughout my training in public health, I have never heard a midwife speak of this in her childbirth classes, but I have faced perinatal grief on many occasions, the loss of a child .
It is important to know that, in these situations, we must help to elaborate the duel in the healthiest way possible, that experts recommend saying goodbye to the baby. Depending on the weeks of gestation and the particular case, you may or may not be able to say goodbye physically, but there is always a way to do it, even if it is symbolic.
When the loss occurs in advanced weeks of gestation, the parents should be offered to see their baby, touch it, take memories (perhaps a lock of hair, or the prints of their hands or feet) and take pictures if it is. family wants it. All this will help to elaborate the grief, but this information is assumed much better if it is known in advance than if it is given to you in a moment of shock, such as receiving the news that your baby has passed away.
Today's society treats death as a taboo subject. Formerly our grandparents and our parents, watched over the dead at home and all this seemed normal; At present, there are people who when hearing this seem macabre, because the naturalness of death has been lost and it is very difficult to assume that it exists when life is expected.
There are many support groups, in which we can find psychologists, families who have gone through it, midwives, nurses ... etc. Support groups that try to make perinatal grief visible and, above all, help families in these difficult times.
What I have learned during my training is that When you don't know what to say, silence is worth much more. That, in these accompaniments, sometimes being, extending a hand or giving a hug is enough. We must be very careful with what we say to these families, because the words remain engraved forever. Many times we hear phrases like, 'you are very young', 'you will have another one', 'it will go away', 'don't cry', 'be strong', 'you should have gone to the hospital before'… All of them very wrong.
When we don't know what to say, nothing happens, we can simply say this, 'the truth is, I don't know what to say to you, I'm sorry', 'I can be with you if you need it' or 'I'm very sorry about what happened to you'.
Grief is a normal adaptive process in the face of loss. It is very stressful, unexpected, and unimagined most of the time. In addition, it entails the loss of expectations, dreams, future projections, etc. Keep in mind that the pain is not proportional to the gestational age or the age of the baby.
Thank you for letting me make this issue visible, something that I think is very necessary even if it is very hard!
You can read more articles similar to Perinatal grief: assuming death when you expect the life of a baby, in the Disease category - on-site nuisance