The title itself speaks volumes, but do we really hear the intensity of it?
Stillbirth is the delivery, after the 20th or 28th week of pregnancy. Over the years in the whole world stillbirth has been at a high percentage. It is one of the fears that people tend to have in the back of their minds during pregnancy even though prenatal care has become more and more advanced with time.
Where child loss is pretty much known, the trauma that follows is often overlooked.
There is a huge number of women and families as a whole who face fetal loss and this affects their well-being and day to day life.
According to CDC sources, the chance of stillbirth occurrence is 1 in 160 births and it is classified into three different categories, i.e. early, late and term.
An early stillbirth is a fetal death likely occurring between 20 and 27 completed weeks of pregnancy.
A late stillbirth likely occurs between 28 and 36 completed pregnancy weeks.
A term stillbirth likely occurs between 37 or more completed pregnancy weeks.
Stillbirth’s occurrence can be based on any of the problems like infection, placental/umbilical issues, past trauma, etc. but also are most of the time unexplained and this can happen to anyone regardless of race, caste, ethnicity, social status, and more. But there are some criteria that can help in providing answers and if certain measures are taken it can decrease the chances of having a stillbirth.
Smoking during pregnancy
Certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity
Multiple pregnancies such as triplets or quadruplets
Previous pregnancy loss
Now as we go, we need to learn that more than anything the mother of the child faces the consequences of the loss; either physically or emotionally. It is very important to support those who have been through child loss, for we can’t feel the amount of pain they might have to go through, the crush of expectation, preparation, and hope is immense that it’s hard to comprehend until it comes to one.
However, there are a good number of women who suffer in silence after their pregnancy loss, in the hurry to go forth with the daily life sometimes grieving is left out and this can impact and put a hesitation for next pregnancies followed by certain traumas.
Given below are few people who had gone through child loss and have come up to talk about it for the ones who are suffering in silence, so they feel the support in any way while they walk through the hard times.
**Names are changed for privacy purposes.
1. Anju (India)
Anju is a high school teacher living in Mumbai, she comes up with an encouraging message for the people who have been in the same situation as her and shares a bit piece of memory,
“Stillbirth is unfortunate and to be honest it hurts more than we can even show. Facing this twice by myself I run out of words till today after ten whole years to speak about it, I feel for all the women and the families who had to go through this. It’s a void that is forever going to stay in my heart where no matter what at any of the time of the days I think about the sweet kids who were supposed to be here on this earth, in the house playing and laughing or bickering, but alas it’s silent. I think about all the days when being a mother or father is celebrated and all them being silent in ours and in many other homes”.
Anju makes sure to teach the youngsters about stillbirth and miscarriage in her subject with utter clearance so they can learn and have knowledge from their side too along with guidance from the physicians. Also being an active member of a support group in a non-governmental group she says, “I’d like for them [families] to know that there’s always light after the dark and let’s hold the hand of the ones who need it in their lowest. Always present for whoever wants to talk.”
2. Mariana & Taylor (US)
“It hurts”, Taylor stated looking towards his wife. Mariana and Taylor are a couple residing in Tennessee whose second child was stillborn due to an unexplained complicacy during the 35th week of pregnancy.
“That’s the only word that comes to our mind whenever we think about our Lilian (daughter), it is heartbreaking beyond repair as we came back empty handed from the hospital after birth; but we were fortunate enough to have people around who gave us the space to grieve and get back on our feet; it’s difficult per se and I think I’m going to lay it down as…a part of us have died along with her.” Taylor expresses.
Mariana recalled the first few months when their elder son would ask questions on the arrival of his sister, “The first few weeks then the month was the hardest because convincing our son about it was like convincing ourselves each time we had to talk about how Lilian wouldn’t be coming home”, while Taylor joins in “and to be honest, opening up about it helped us a lot gradually, that’s when we knew how many of the other people go through this, when one person speaks up another person speaks up too, then that makes a community and today we’re glad and thankful for coming across the lovely people that have sent us their love and prayer and helped us in many ways”.
Taylor and Mariana have opened a joint support group the next year as a remembrance for their daughter and for the women and the families who need support while going through the traumatic journey of child loss and offer the help in however way it is needed.
Lastly, they conclude this interview with a beautiful heartfelt message to everyone:
“Grieve has no particular ways or time period, everybody grieves in their own way to cope with the hard times, just give them their much-needed space and support them; no matter how far you are or how close you are supporting them in your thoughts or by being there with them, but just be careful to not overcrowd their space.”
3. Ridhima (India)
Ridhima belongs from a rural area in Assam, India. She is a single mother who now lives in a small town and owns a restaurant; her first baby was stillborn because of poor health at that time and limited accessibility to get into the hospital which was a few kilometers away from their village. She tells us how it was a tough period per se because of her marital issues which were then followed by health issues;
“I am guilty…to be honest, there’s so much I feel about everything in what I had been through since the past few years, but nothing tops to what I feel about how my child would have been here if I wasn’t sick then and everything with my situation.”
Ridhima shares about how the government hospital staff failed to pay attention to a patient in severe labor and the village Panchayat utterly denied any kind of help because of her separation from her husband,
“for the first year with my marital issue and the child loss I was in a web made of only disappointment and hurt, it was draining for me to even get out of bed. But as the years passed, in a way, I thank God for saving her from a brutal life because I would be bound to stay tight in my husband’s house. It took me two whole years to get out of that toxic place to get where I am now in this place with all the support from the NGO women group, healthier and in many ways happier, it’s just the angel that is missing…”
How we can help
Pregnancy loss is very much swept away and is not recognized where it is a very significant loss, many of the women drift into a depressive state where the thought of going through another pregnancy pretty gives them PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and the maternity ward in hospitals needs to be more knowledgeable in regarding it so it can help the women more mentally.
Then the in-charged physicians need to be providing guidance and knowledge to their patients about the do’s and don’ts ranging from food habits during the pregnancy period to constant check-ups.
Today not all of us might understand this heavy feel but it’s never too late to learn and support the ones who need a hand. No big wonders are built in a day and healing is no different, it’s one step a day however they want to do it, where being a good listener contributes massively to it.
“To all the fathers and mothers even if you’ve come back home with or without your baby you’re one of the best parents that your child had chosen to be related with. Vulnerability has strength in itself too, so just take your time.”