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Pregnancy After Loss

When or whether to get pregnant again is a decision that only parents can make. You will probably solicit and receive opinionated and conflicting advice from doctors, nurses, friends, relatives and even other parents. This advice is difficult to sort out and often is sought or comes at a time when you may be most vulnerable. You may feel (and many others will believe) that the only way you can ever recover from this sad experience is to have a baby in your arms to love. On the other hand, you may come to realize in the passing days, weeks or months that the joy of another baby will never make up for your sorrow over the death of this baby. In fact, you may resent it when others say, “You can always have another baby,” as if you didn’t want the one you lost.

The Subsequent Child

In the pamphlet, “The Subsequent Child,” written for the National SIDS Foundation, Carolyn Szybist, RN, writes: “When an infant dies, well-intentioned people generally try to persuade the parents that having another baby as soon as possible is the only answer to accepting that death. Rather strong attempts may sometimes be made to convince you that healing can only be accomplished in this way. But ‘healing’ is actually more than incorporating an event into your life that enables you to live with it in an appropriate fashion. Doing that takes time. You cannot necessarily speed up the process of healing by having or not having another baby.”

Emotions You May Feel About the Decision to Have Another Child

When the bridge is crossed, and a decision is made by both the mother and father to have another pregnancy, you will probably become fearful both about getting pregnant, as well as carrying the baby. Perhaps making that decision will be easier with some thoughts and guidelines based on the experience of others who have been through the death of a child and subsequent pregnancy, and of professionals who work closely with them. 

Considerations for a New Pregnancy

Below are a few things that you might consider as you think about another pregnancy:

  • Take time for physical recovery from pregnancy.
  • Take time for emotional and mental healing. It is difficult to take on a new baby at the same time you are grieving the baby who has died.
  • Take time to seek medical advice; not only about the previous loss but of future pregnancies.
  • Take time to make important decisions.

Healing Takes Time

All of these suggestions have one thing in common: time. Time has been called the great healer, along with the work of facing and doing your grief work. Its progress can seem achingly slow. We at Parentcare suggest that parents wait six months to one year before planning another pregnancy