The Birth: Grief and Joy

The birth of your next baby will almost inevitably re-awaken your grief for your child who has died. It will be a time of sadness, grief, joy, pride, relief and probably anxiety.

“I cried for the first 24 hours when my daughter was born. They didn’t understand that I was actually saying goodbye to my dead son.”

“When my next son was born I cried and cried. I realised it was really saying goodbye to Jonathan with the arrival of a new son. At some level I must have still thought that he was coming back but the new baby was his own little person.”

“When Jonathon was born I insisted that he stay by my bedside continually. I got no sleep and my milk was late arriving. I felt that no one in the world understood what I was going through.”

“It is difficult to be feeling two opposite emotions at once. Such joy at the new life, the new hope, the new chance, intermingled with such grief and pain at the lost life, lost hope, lost chance.”

The hospital

Parents often find it helpful to visit the hospital and meet the midwifery staff before the birth. You could talk to them about your feelings before you go into hospital for the birth. On the ward, make sure that staff knows about your story; a note on the top of your history may help. Ask for continuity of staff if possible, to avoid constantly having to tell your story to new staff. Don’t be reluctant to ask for whatever special arrangements will help.

“I think that it is important to inform staff how you feel and maybe even request a single room if that is what you feel you need. I did this because I was unsure about how I would feel after the birth of our subsequent child. I know I wanted privacy and I didn’t want to frighten other mothers if I was a crying mess.”

“I think it helped that I wrote my story for the midwives to read – it seemed to really help the staff.”

Some parents will find it difficult to trust anyone else to care for their baby in hospital, whereas others will find it frightening to have the responsibility, particularly whilst their baby is asleep. Both reactions are understandable and based on a very normal fear. Hospital staff need to know why you are feeling this way. Do talk to them.

“Being in labour in hospital the staff were telling me to push and I said ‘No, I’ve changed my mind. I’m not having the baby today. She is safer inside’…I was in labour for 30 hours! Lucy was born beautiful and well…Finally!”

“I felt very anxious in the fortnight prior to the birth. I had a deep fear that the baby might not survive the birth and actually asked for a caesarean to end the worry.”

This article was prepared using extracts from Another Baby? The Decision is Yours.1 The full text is available online or contact Red Nose Grief and Loss Services on 1300 308 307 for a printed version.

Last reviewed: 29/5/20