Every family affected by a perinatal loss knows how devastating it is. Miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, and death in the first few weeks of life are all examples. Since the child is such an integral part of the parents’ identities, perinatal loss evokes a distinct form of bereavement. As a society, we don’t provide any guidance on how to grieve.
Some mothers have a hard time recovering from perinatal loss. They may lose interest in having sexual relations, in their spouse’s’ affection, and in caring for any other children they may have at home.
‘Surrounded by death’
When Nomzamo Kilana (33) from Khayelitsha, Cape Town, the founder of Qhakaza Integrated Development, lost her daughter, her life shut down and she became numb to the trauma.
Kilana says she’s had multiple pregnancies in her lifetime, but she has only ever held a living child in her arms once: her son Iminathi. Kilana recently lost her baby girl, who was born stillborn at full-term, she says.
“The loss altered both my life and state of mind. My world came to a standstill when I unexpectedly lost our daughter, despite the fact that I am an extremely enthusiastic, energetic, and a happy person. I have literally lost myself and a portion of my psyche.”
She argues that the concept that when people die, they go to a better place is understandable from a distance but dealing with it is a different story.
Lost in grief
Kilana became anti-social. Once active and As a person who is active and all over the place, everything changed in a moment. She admits that she was unable to give her son her whole attention because so much was going on in her body and mind, and that staying at home exacerbated the situation. She states that a portion of her hoped she could have died as well.
As part of her recovery, she began to see infants nearly every week. “When you are grieving the loss of a stillborn, it is unlike any other grief. Sometimes your partner may not want to talk about the baby either.”
Kilana could only discuss her suffering and loss with her therapist. “As a mother, you desire passionately for your child to be acknowledged. Therapy provided that for me, and I learned a lot about death and how to let go of my daughter while also cherishing our times together and carrying her memories in my heart.”
Support is needed in healing
Nobody at home intended to discuss the loss. A therapist provided Kilana with activities as a result.
“We also began discussing her at home. Therapy unpacked the grieving process and provided me with coping mechanisms.”
According to psychologist Sandile Radebe, perinatal loss is a complex issue. Mothers form emotional bonds with their infants while carrying them, and some even report anticipating the birth and cuddling with their newborns.
“There is no medical explanation for why a woman repeatedly loses her infants. Stress-related concerns may be the cause if the problem persists. And stress during pregnancy affects the child in some way.”
Providing support to a pregnant woman is crucial. According to Radebe, women go through a lot before, during, and after giving birth.
He adds that if something of this kind occurs, moms should seek counselling during pregnancy and after giving birth. He says that it is essential to do so for both mental and physical wellness.
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