After a pregnancy loss, it’s easy to get focused on your grief, and possibly any physical recovery concerns you have. What might surprise you, are the many practicalities you have to handle in the midst of your grief. From personal choices like what to do about any breast milk you produce and what method of birth control is right for you, to general concerns like how to share the news, and what to do on your annual taxes, there are a lot of unexpected issues to consider. Below, you’ll find articles and links to help you remember some of the day-to-day issues you might want to prepare for.
One of your most immediate concerns will be coping with your milk coming in. Not every woman who has a pregnancy loss will experience the onset of lactation, but if you do, it can be very uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally. There are many issues to consider, from how to reduce the pain of engorgement, to what to do with any breast milk you produce.
Whether or not you’re planning another pregnancy, you may want to consider using birth control temporarily. Some doctors recommend waiting before attempting another pregnancy after a loss. There are many options, from temporary, like condoms, to long-term, like Depo-Provera, to permanent, like a tubal ligation. Talk to your doctor about what method would be right for your future plans.
After your baby dies, it can be difficult to think, let alone express yourself clearly. You will want to share the news with the important people in your life, perhaps, or let a wider audience know if your pregnancy was common knowledge. Social media has made us more connected than ever, and you may find yourself struggling how to put in words the experience of your baby’s death on a social platform. You’re in charge of the information, and how much you share is purely personal. See some sample wordings for death announcements, and social media hints in the link above.
Depending on your baby’s age, you may be required to use a funeral home to handle burial or cremation, but you don’t have to have a funeral or memorial service unless you choose to. For people who want to have some type of ceremony, the planning can seem overwhelming and so challenging for a young child. There are resources for choosing baby-appropriate readings and songs on this website, as well as other unique planning ideas.
If you’ve had a stillbirth, or other loss late in pregnancy, you may have set up a nursery for your baby. Facing all those baby things can be difficult. Sorting through the belongings could be therapeutic for you, or you may be more comfortable asking a friend or family member to clear away your nursery items.
Eventually, you’ll need to return to work after a pregnancy loss. The amount of time you take off from work will vary based on what type of loss you had and other factors in your personal situation. You and your doctor can work out the particulars together. When you do return to work, you’ll have to decide how much you want to share with your co-workers and how to do it. The link above will give you some quick tips about returning to your job after pregnancy loss.
If your baby was born alive, no matter how long he lived, you can list him or her as a dependent on your tax return for the year he was born. Of course there is no substitute for professional tax advice, but learn more about the paperwork you might need here.
After any stressful event, it can be hard to sleep. Grieving people frequently report difficulty sleeping, and difficulty staying asleep, even when they feel physically and mentally exhausted. Some simple sleep hygiene techniques may help you get through some of the difficult nights. Before sleep, try relaxation exercises, or journaling to help prepare for sleep. In bed, guided imagery or progressive muscle relaxation may be the keys to slumber for you. Learn more about these methods and other coping techniques, as well as different types of sleep medications at the link above.