Pregnancy Loss - Perspectives


The term 'pregnancy loss' covers miscarriage, ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, abortion, IVF losses and stillbirth. Taken more widely it can also cover the experience of infertility, where the loss is of the possibility of pregnancy, and the relinquishment of a baby after adoption, where the pregnancy has come to term but the baby is gone. Pregnancy loss can be a lonely and emotional experience for those most closely involved, particularly if the loss occurs early in the pregnancy, or is complicated by secrecy or shame, as in the case of abortion.

Lack of support - In early pregnancy loss, support from others may be lacking, either because they did not know of the pregnancy in the first place or because they do not acknowledge the loss as 'real'. Commonly offered platitudes such as 'Never mind, you can try again' or 'It wasn't meant to be' trivialise the bereaved mother or father's grief and increase the sense of isolation.

Lack of acknowledgment – Until relatively recently, relinquishment and stillbirth were not acknowledged as real losses and the prevailing wisdom was to encourage the woman to forget the baby and move on. We are much more aware now of the grief associated with these experiences of loss and the need to acknowledge and support the grieving process. However, this acknowledgment is still to be accorded to those experiencing earlier 'invisible' losses, including abortion.

Abortion related grief – acknowledging the legitimacy of this loss is complicated by:

  • a contentious political discourse which focuses on rights and morality
  • the secrecy surrounding the experience
  • the notion that she 'chose' it as somehow cancelling out the possibility of grief
  • the tendency to avoid returning to the clinic or doctor involved for help, leading to under reporting of long term emotional problems. Thus, we have the widely held assumption that abortion is basically a benign experience if the woman chooses it

Read more about pregnancy loss:

Emotional and psychological effects of miscarriage
"Because many do not anticipate or understand the grief response associated with a pregnancy loss, they may feel as if they are going mad when their emotions catch up with them."
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Men and pregnancy loss
"It is important that the male finds an outlet for his grief – talking about the experience helps make it seem more real and provides a release from the anguish, fear, anger and the disappointment that is often involved in pregnancy loss."
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Genetic counselling in pregnancy
"A client's quick decision to terminate may actually reflect an attitude of hopelessness on the part of the doctor or counsellor."
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After the abortion
"It is not unusual for the woman to find herself restless, agitated and grieving around the anniversary date of the abortion, and also around what would have been the baby's birthday."
Read More

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