One of the ripple effects of pregnancy loss is often that women (and their partner or labor support team) don’t finish or never begin a childbirth education course. Unfortunately in pregnancies after loss, it becomes complicated, both logistically and emotionally, to retake or begin a series. We know that the information gained in childbirth education courses increases knowledge, reduces fear, gives tools for comfort measures, brings together the partners (or birth team), and presents options. This lack of knowledge and understanding can lead to increased fear in an already physically and emotionally challenging experience.
I remember taking a course with our first rainbow. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. Even being enrolled in the course felt surreal as we’d never made it that far before. I was convinced it was a bad omen and I was going to “jinx” this pregnancy too, just by attending. My husband came along as well and we really struggled to connect with the group as they were in a space of blissfulness that we simply were not in (and we were a little bit jealous of that bliss). We didn’t share our story of losses because we didn’t want to hurt the other people in the group, but we were in turn hurting by not sharing such a huge piece of our story. All of these feelings are such a common experience in pregnancy after loss and it’s another part of the grief process that can sometimes be unexpected.
As a certified childbirth educator and doula, I often support families that want that additional childbirth knowledge but aren’t sure how to get it. My greatest recommendations are to read some great books, with Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn by Penny Simkin, et.al. at the top of the list. There are also several taped childbirth education series that can be worth watching and I recommend “BirthWise“, though there are other great ones out there. Another option is to look for private childbirth educators in your area; they will sometimes teach a condensed version at your home or coffeehouse. And finally, there is great value in taking a course either at a hospital, birth center, or community resource center; share as much or as little of your story with the instructor before the class starts. It’s really helpful for them to know where you’re coming from when presenting the information to the class as a whole.
In the next few months, I’ll be writing a series of posts about labor, birth, the immediate postpartum, and the uniqueness to the phases and stage that present when pregnant after loss. We’ll begin at the First Stage and work our way along the “typical” flow of birth. The goal of these posts is to provide education and “normalize” the feelings associated with each stage, especially those that come up when pregnant after loss. It’s one of the elements in how rainbows are made.
*original artwork hand-drawn by my dear friend Amanda, to celebrate my 100th doula birth.
First Stage —– > Second Stage —— > Third Stage —– > Postpartum
- Pre-Labor Pushing and Birth Delivery of Placenta
- Early/Latent Labor
- Active Labor