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After Your Stillbirth

Strategies for Coping

There are many things you can do to help yourself during this time. One of the best ways to cope with all that you’re going through and feeling is to take good care of yourself. Taking care of yourself means emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually. Doing this is important to the grief and healing process.

Emotionally

  • Recognize your loss regardless of how long you were pregnant. It’s not the length of time you carried your baby, but the depth of your attachment to the baby. The loss is as deep as the care and love you had for your baby during your pregnancy.
  • Let yourself feel how you feel. You may experience a range of emotions including sadness, anger, guilt, and frustration. These feelings are all valid. You’ve experienced the loss of your baby and your hopes and dreams. Sometimes grieving may feel more complicated if the pregnancy was not planned. It’s important to recognise that grief is about the attachment you have formed to the baby and the hopes and dreams you had for the baby.
  • If you feel angry, recognize your anger for what it is and find constructive way to express it.
  • Listen to music, read, paint, or write in a journal are some ways that can help you manage your feelings.
  • Pull out special keepsakes or your memory box and plan some time to look at these.
  • Surround yourself with calm. Use soft lighting and comforting music to create a peaceful space.
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation.
  • Write a letter to your baby, a journal entry, or blog.

Physically

 Exercise
  • Take care of your physical needs. Drink plenty of fluids including water.
  • Make sure you are getting enough to eat. You may find that eating small amounts more often is easier for you.
  • If you drink alcohol, limit how much you drink. Alcohol may numb the pain temporarily but it can also affect your ability to cope.
  • When you can, go for a walk or do some form of physical activity. This will help you sleep better and it will give you the energy to get through the day.
  • Go for a massage. This can help with any stiffness or muscle soreness you have. Massage helps to release hormones that can decrease stress, relieve pain, improve concentration, improve sleep, and elevate mood. Limit your time spent using the computer or internet.
  • Try to keep to your usual bedtime routine.

Socially

  • Let your loved ones know that it helps you feel more connected when they check on you. Reach out to your family and friends when you feel ready or if you need someone to talk to.
  • Allow friends and family to help. They may be able to help with meals, housework, or running errands. If you have older children, other family members may be willing to look after them to give you time to grieve.
  • You may feel jealous of parents who have babies or women who are pregnant. This is not unusual and is normal. It’s okay to opt out of baby showers or events while you’re grieving.
  • Do things that you enjoy and make you feel peaceful or happy.

Spiritually

  • Participate in your spiritual or religious activities or community if it offers you comfort.
  • Find ways to remember your baby during the holidays such as an ornament in memory of your baby.
  • Make a plan and give yourself some scheduled time to remember your baby.
  • Keep your schedule lighter. Don’t commit yourself to doing too much.
  • Attend an event such as a candle-lighting ceremony or a “walk to remember”. You may want to start one with your family or community if this will help.
  • Plant a tree or your favourite flowers to help you honour the memory of your baby.

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