There are an enormous number of books available to guide people through pregnancy. Amazon lists some 8000 books on this subject alone! Some of these books focus on nutrition, pregnancy friendly exercises, and self care. Others offer advice on decorating and “baby proofing” a home. There are books to help a parent prepare other children for having a new brother or sister, while others offer suggestions on journaling and other activities. The list of both fun and educational books related to pregnancy is endless. On top of that, friends and family members can offer a multitude of information and suggestions based on their own experiences.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the sadness and emotional pain that some face in the postpartum period, the amount of truly helpful information is far less readily available. Friends and family who may have never dealt with these issues are at a loss on how to help. They may offer very logical sounding reasons why these new parents should feel happy, rather than sad, but emotional feelings are anything but logical. While some books might speak to the issue of “Baby Blues” and Postpartum Depression,” these are often more clinical in nature and do not fully address this emotional pain on a level that speaks to the hearts of these parents.
There are other issues that can bring sadness to new parents that are hardly addressed at all. Many books address the “gift” that comes for the new family of a child that is placed with them for adoption. Likewise, the birth mother (and fathers) can easily locate resources to assure them that they are offering the child many more opportunities for the future in placing them with adoptive parents, but these are logical and intellectual elements of information. Once again, no matter how logical the decision might be, there is still the deep heartbreak the needs to be fully addressed, as well as how to move beyond the potentially lifelong impact of that pain. (OriginsCanada sites a number of studies have shown that 50% or more of birthmothers were still grieving the loss of the babies they placed for adoption as long as 30 years after the fact.)
There are other grieving situations that might be faced following childbirth as well. Single parents face special challenges in the postpartum period in dealing with an infant alone, especially when they do not have supportive family and friends to assist them. A newborn often requires far more care than these parents might have ever anticipated. Those new parents, who do not have their own parents to depend on for assistance and advice, can also find themselves facing additional emotional issues and a sense of grief. This is especially the case for a new parent who has lost their own parent to death and will forever have that missing grandparent absent from their life.
If a new parent is fortunate enough to have a friend or relative who has dealt with any of these issues in their own life, those people might be able to offer some level of emotional support. The problem is that they can only speak from their own, very personal experience, which may be far different that what this new parent is experiencing. No two situations are exactly alike. In some situations, friends who have suffered similar emotional pain may choose to keep their distance, for fear of reviving and reliving their own pain once again.
We are constantly bombarded with messages about the joy that comes with pregnancy and childbirth, but little information is ever circulated in the mass media about how to deal with any painful emotions that might be experienced. In truth, little is ever shared with a new parent about any issues of grief that they might possibly face. People forget that grief is a natural reaction to any major change that a person might experience in their daily life. The reality is that there are few changes in life larger than bringing a new life into the world.
Grief, in general, can be a very isolating experience for the griever. They can feel very alone and misunderstood by others, since their personal emotional pain is unique to them. When that grief is related to the birth of a child, it can be even more isolating. There may very well be a sense that they are completely alone in having these feelings, since they were never “educated” that they might ever be possible.
The Grief Recovery Institute has addressed the topic of the death of a child in past articles, but these other elements of emotional pain and loss are an entirely different subject that deserve special consideration. That is why we created a special e-book on this subject. “Postpartum Grief” covers these special topics of heartbreak in detail. It includes chapters on:
- The “Baby Blues”
- Postpartum Depression
- Dealing With The Birth Alone
- Situations Where That New Baby Must Be Placed For Adoption
- Situations Where The New Parents Do Not Have The Emotional Support of Their Parents
This e-book was co-authored by Ashley Mielke, a licensed therapist and Certified Recovery Specialist, and myself and deals with these situations from a very heartfelt perspective, rather than a strictly clinical one. Unlike most books on these topics that focus solely on the mothers, this one also includes information on fathers as well.
Since many new parents are afraid to broach any feelings of sadness that they might be experiencing after the birth of a child, this could be a valuable guide for all new parents. It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine in advance whom these feels of emotional pain might impact after the birth of a child. If new parents are alerted to this possibility in advance, they can better be prepared in how to deal with these feelings if they should surface. That information could help then better understand what they are going through, so that they do not feel so very alone.
Other articles that might be of interest:
About the Author:
Stephen Moeller has been a licensed Funeral Director since 1978. Steve established one of the first Grief Recovery Method Support Groups over thirty years ago. Since then, thousands of grievers have gone through his programs. Steve was the Director for Community Relations at Floral Haven Crematory, Funeral Home, and Cemetery in Broken Arrow, OK, prior to resigning to form Grief Recovery Resources, Inc. He also has served on the Tulsa County Task Force on Infant Mortality, the Tulsa Human Response Coalition, and was a member of “Ask the Experts” on Aurora Casket’s Funeral Plan. Steve is a featured grief and recovery speaker at hospitals, churches, civic clubs and many other organizations, but spends the bulk of his working time focused on Certification Trainings.