Birth and Bereavement Support
Pregnancy, miscarriage or pregnancy loss, infertility, and the postpartum period can tremendously challenge an individual's mental health.
An individual who has endured the unbearable loss of a pregnancy is suddenly cast into a world of unknowns. This isn't what they expected. Everything has turned upside down. If a clinical depression descends upon the already weary soul, loss and pain become deeper and darker. If left untreated, PPD can (and often does) affect an individual's ability to participate in their daily life, which in turn affects family, friends, employers, and the community at large.
As many as 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. Unfortunately, individual's are often left to suffer alone, because although we expect there to be some stage of “normal grief,” most friends and family are eager for individual's who have experienced a loss to return to their “old self.” This, in turn, can leave the individual feeling misunderstood and drive them further into isolation. Understandably, this can create the opportunity for depression to emerge.
Studies show that major depressive episodes are more common in women who suffer a miscarriage than in those who have not been pregnant. Furthermore, they suggest that women who suffer miscarriages should be monitored in the first weeks after reproductive loss, particularly those who are childless or who have history of major depressive disorder. Among miscarrying women with a history of prior major depression, half experience a recurrence. It is also interesting to note that this risk did not vary significantly by maternal age, by time of gestation, or attitude toward pregnancy.
Studies have also determined that during the first year after loss, supportive counselling (peer and/or professional) was effective in reducing overall emotional disturbance, anger, and depression. The conclusion was that the caring attention from peers and counsellors had positive and significant effects on the integration of loss and improvement of self-esteem in the first year subsequent to miscarrying. This is important because many individual's feel they need to suffer in silence and may not feel it's appropriate to ask for help or may resist reaching out.
Giving a woman permission to grieve sufficiently, and more importantly supporting her through that grief, can ease the pain of her loss and promote healing.