This is part two of a two-part blog. Find part one here.
Oasis International Hospital has begun offering a pregnancy loss support group. It’s an issue which affects the lives of many women: up to one in four women deal with the loss of a pregnancy in their lifetime. We spoke to two of Oasis’s staff members, Dr. Juliette Kinn, who obtained her MD and OB/GYN diplomas in France, and is a full time OB/GYN at Oasis, and Sylvia Huang who holds a masters of social work degree from the U.S. Lead by Sylvia Huang, the group is limited to four to five people per session. Meetings take place at Oasis, and are free to attend. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What would you say to someone who might be experiencing feelings of guilt for their pregnancy loss?
Dr. Kinn: It is nothing you’ve done and nothing you haven’t done. Pregnancy loss happens. When the fetus isn’t developing normally, the embryo dies to make room for the next pregnancy. The cells of the skin die daily without our awareness because there are so many of them. Pregnancy stems from one unique cell called a zygote and this cell has to be perfect to continue to develop into a baby. Otherwise, there will be a miscarriage.
How can partners and family members support each other through pregnancy loss?
Dr. Kinn: Talk to each other and be open to sharing feelings; be supportive and do not blame each other. Talking to people in the support group is also helpful.
How long does the grieving process take?
Sylvia (M.S.W.): People grieve differently. Some women can move through pregnancy loss freely, others can feel deep sorrow at the loss. There is no standard or right grieving process as it varies from one person to another. However, due to the significant shift in hormones from being pregnant to not being pregnant, the experience of healing may take longer than one expects. Grief is a normal process that includes stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, even healthy grief sometimes can develop into relentless depression that requires more support. Many moms will experience feelings of guilt, shame, self-doubt and sometimes suicidal ideation. It is highly recommended that women who experience such feelings to talk to their close ones and seek help from support group or therapists.
What help can mothers get after pregnancy loss? Why is it useful to talk to others going through the same thing?
Sylvia (M.S.W.): It is imperative to share feelings with others in the healing process. Although mothers might desperately want their partners to understand what they are going through, the partners may not. Joining a support group is an appropriate choice to find people who can give them what they need. It is also comforting to share with one another the ways of creating memories for the babies, e.g. keeping a journal, handprint/footprint of the babies, etc.
How can support group help?
Sylvia (M.S.W.): In a support group, the mothers can find people with problems similar to theirs. While not everyone wants or needs support beyond that offered by family and friends, they may find it helpful to turn to others outside their immediate circle. A support group can help them cope better and feel less isolated as they make connections with others facing similar challenges. Members of a support group usually share their personal experiences and offer one another emotional comfort and moral support. They may also offer practical advice and tips to help each other cope with pregnancy loss. Benefits of participating in support groups may include:
- Feeling less lonely, isolated or judged
- Gaining a sense of empowerment and control
- Improving coping skills and sense of adjustment
- Talking openly and honestly about their feelings
- Reducing distress, depression, anxiety or fatigue
- Developing a clearer understanding of what to expect with your situation
- Getting practical advice or information about treatment options
Photo: Courtesy of OASIS International Hospital