In Pennsylvania, a pregnancy loss that takes place before 16 weeks gestational age is considered a miscarriage.  According to the March of Dimes (2012), miscarriage occurs in about 10-20% of all known pregnancies. Because many losses occur before women realize they are pregnant, as many as 40% of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage. Parents who experience an early pregnancy loss have varied feelings and responses.

Assessing the needs of the parents is important, as it is incorrect to assume that everyone grieves a loss or that no one grieves. Some people view an early pregnancy as a union of cells and others visualize a baby. The length of a pregnancy does not influence how attached a person feels. However, 75% of women experiencing a miscarriage felt that they had lost a baby; only 25% felt the loss as a non-significant life experience. (Limbo and Wheeler, 1986)

Many who were pregnant have felt surprised by how they felt about their own miscarriage, previously considering a miscarriage a small loss. So, it’s easy to see why outsiders often fail to understand how their hopes and dreams have been replaced with heartache and loss.

How Can a Bereavement Doula Help?

A bereavement doula provides companionship during a miscarriage in-home or at the hospital by:

  • Allowing the parents to freely recognize any and all of the wide range of feelings - relief, sadness, grief, fear, guilt, etc.
  • Calming the fear of physical and emotional reactions
  • Describing what their baby might look like and showing pictures of a comparable gestational age
  • Offering options on seeing, holding, and weighing the baby
  • Photographing baby - many parents value photos as proof of their child’s existence; many also feel comforted that the photos will help them  remember their child
  • Creating memories - footprints, handprints, foot/hand casting
  • Providing a miscarriage support kit (a basin to catch baby, gloves, a covered vessel to hold baby)
  • Presenting options for pathology testing, genetic studies, and the return of baby, if desired, for burial /cremation
  • Suggesting breast care methods
  • Coordinating physical and mental follow-up care with health care professionals

It is not unusual to want to see and spend time with your baby and take all the time you need to process this experience. There are ways to preserve the integrity of your baby's body for this period of time and we can facilitate that. Some parents even choose to take their baby home for a while.  Click on this link for more information.

Get in touch with us today to learn how we can support you or a loved one during perinatal loss or to offer support.

"I would always look for clues to her in books and poems, I realized. I would always search for the echoes of the lost person, the scraps of words and breath, the silken ties that say, Look: she existed."

– Meghan O'Rourke, Story's End