Children And Miscarriage Or Still Birth

When
parents lose a baby through miscarriage or still birth, there is the additional
challenge of protecting existing children from the fallout of grief. Some
parents are reluctant to talk with young children about the loss of the
pregnancy, particularly if the children didn’t yet know about the new baby.
However, even very small children can pick up on their parents’ sadness and
pain, and conventional wisdom says it’s best to offer some explanation. In the
end, only you and your partner can decide what is right for your family.

Will
Telling Them Help?

Psychologists
say an honest but careful explanation helps children to understand what is
going on in their environment. Without it, young children in particular, can
become anxious about your change of mood. They may think Mommy and Daddy are
sad because they have done something wrong, and blame themselves. This anxiety could
lead to disturbed eating and sleeping patterns, which creates additional stress
as you struggle to come to terms with your loss.

Explaining
Miscarriage Or Still Birth

How you
tell your children will depend on their ages, personalities, and how much they
already understand. With very young children, you may be introducing the
concepts of death or pregnancy for the first time. In this case, it’s best to
explain in simple language that the baby has died, what that means, and why it
happened (if you know). Avoid vague or adult language that may be confusing.

If you
don’t know why your baby died, you should say so clearly. In this case, it’s even
more important to reassure your children that it’s not their fault
(particularly if your child was showing signs of jealousy or not wanting the
baby) and in the longer term, to address any fears about future pregnancies. A
good analogy can be found in your garden. In spring people plant many flowers
in their gardens, and most of them grow – but some don’t, it’s nobody’s fault
and nobody knows why.

Their
Reaction

Young
children may be upset and clingy, or show no obvious signs of sadness. They may
not understand the permanency of death and you might have to repeat your
explanation several times. Slightly older children might be afraid that you or
they could die too, and they will need reassurance. They may also display
uncharacteristic behavior at home or at school. Although older children may be
more able to comfort you, don’t be surprised if teenagers are sullen and
withdrawn.

Involve Them

Everyone should
feel entitled to their emotions. You should let your children know that it’s OK
to talk about the baby and cry if they need to (and this includes Mommy and
Daddy). If you decide to hold a remembrance ceremony, consider involving the
children in the event. This gives them a focus for their feelings and may help
them to understand what has happened.

When It
Gets Too Much

If you feel
that your family is seriously struggling to recover from a miscarriage or a
still birth, and that you children are being affected, seek help from your
health care provider. Losing a child is one of the most painful of all life
experiences, and no one should have to go it alone.

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