Miscarriage: It happens all the time but hardly gets mentioned. Up tp 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks gestation. The average friend or family member doesn't necessarily respond in a helpful or supportive way. It is often dismissed as a small incident that is easy to move past, especially once there is a successful subsequent pregnancy and the family welcomes a child. And yet, the real pain and suffering of having lost a pregnancy can stick with a family for years.
Many women find it hard to have an honest and vulnerable conversation about miscarriage because the way the heart feels about it sometimes doesn't match up with what the brain thinks about it. How can I have such big, unruly feelings about such a tiny little thing that existed for such a short amount of time? The truth is there is no right or wrong way to feel about it. Grief is not something we can put into a tidy box. That doesn't mean we don't try. If only it were neat, tidy, and contained, with a timeline. But grief is wild, fluid, and ever-changing. It is uncontainable, untranslatable, unpredictable.
We know it's likely that, if they knew, someone would say something well-meaning yet painful, like, "Well, there's always next time," or "You have two beautiful children so you have lots to be grateful for," or "It wasn't meant to be," or "You shouldn't get too attached in the early days, these things happen." Maybe we even say these things to ourselves, even though we would never say them to a friend. So we don't share our pain. We move on. We downplay and dismiss.
Please know that your pain and loss are valid. It's not a little thing. It's a big thing with big hopes and dreams attached to it. We are sorry you lost something precious, and we don't think your feelings about it--whatever they are-- are silly.
Because of the high rates of miscarriage in general, most people having a baby have experienced miscarriage in the past, or will experience it in the future. As postpartum doulas, we see many parents who are joyful about their new baby, yet still grieving a pregnancy or baby they lost previously. It all comes together, and it is messy. We can be a part of the net that holds you and all the messy feelings about life and death, joy and grief, together. We can also help you find professional resources for counseling and therapy that can be very effective in processing grief and trauma related to pregnancy and infant loss.
Here are some helpful links:
13 Things You Should Know About Grief After Miscarriage or Baby Loss
Empty Arms: Hope and Support For Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Tubal Pregnancy
Please contact us if you are looking for local resources for professional counseling support.
Have you seen this book? Postpartum doula Rachel Brinker gives it a review! Read on to find out why she loves it.
Book Review: The First Forty Days, The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother.
--Rachel Brinker, MA, Postpartum and Infant Care Doula, owner of Proud Mama Support Services
This book brings fresh light and new perspective onto a very common postpartum practice in traditional cultures--a period of "cocooning" the postpartum mother for roughly six weeks (about 40 days) after birth. Historically, each culture has approached this period differently, with different rituals, restrictions on activity, and diets, but the basic premise across cultures remains the same: Pregnancy and birth is a huge tax on a woman's body and soul, and she needs time--a lot more time than just two or three days--to fully recover.
Our modern society barely acknowledges that the postpartum adjustment period exists, and the idea of a women--a modern, independent working woman with her own career, drive, motivation, and goals--taking FORTY days off of "real life" to nest with her baby and be taken care of, rather than being the caretaker of others, seems radical, backward, and out-of-date to most of us. But is it? In this book, Heng Ou beautifully describes why it's not backward or out-of-date at all. It's smart.
After the author Heng Ou, a first-generation Chinese American, gave birth, she was nourished and pampered by her "Auntie Ou" in the Chinese traditional "confinement period" of zuo yuezi, which is a forty-day period of rest, shelter from the outside world, and intentional replenishment of the nutrients lost during pregnancy and birth. Experiencing this traditional time of healing and rest gave Heng a unique perspective and highlighted for her the importance of finding ways to honor these traditional practices within our busy modern lives.
I wholeheartedly concur with Heng when she writes, "I've had a front-row view of what is sorely lacking in our contemporary culture--a dedicated space and time that allows a woman to "become" a mother at her own pace. It's hard to reconcile the unique needs of postpartum with the demands of our fast-paced, highly productive society--how can we slow down and do less in a world that's continually asking us to do more? All the often, women experience a stressful clash of the two. For many mothers, the joy of a baby's arrival is mixed up with harder feelings: isolation and loneliness after the initial welcoming buzz subsides; bewildering fatigue from trying to hold it all together, or confusion and shame when they cannot."
Looking across cultures, Heng identifies five insights that most postpartum traditions from around the world have in common. These are the factors that remain vitally important for postpartum adjustment and recovery, and the formation of a woman's identity as a mother. The specific foods, rituals, and herbs used can vary from culture to culture, and in our modern postpartum period, may disappear altogether. However, the importance of these five elements of postpartum care remains:
Whether or not you identify with a certain traditional culture, these five elements can be a part of your postpartum experience. Intentionally creating space for retreat, warmth, support, rest, and ritual in the first six weeks postpartum comes with long-lasting positive benefits for you and your family.
This is exactly what a postpartum doula does--we support you in finding ways to bring these five elements into your postpartum period, whatever that looks like for you. Even if you only have six weeks--or less--off from work, before the calls from "real life" must be answered, and you think taking herbs for lactation or placenta encapsulation is more "woo" than you're into*, a postpartum doula can bring an extra layer of support to the time that you do have, help ease the transition to the next phase, and be a source of emotional support when it feels hard and overwhelming.
Balancing motherhood and modern life is hard. It is a struggle sometimes. You don't have to do it alone. There are people who can bring more ease, rest, peace of mind, and nourishment to your experience. Unless you live in a traditional community where women support each other across generations, passing down wisdom and recipes for nourishing broths and rejuvenative herbal baths, those people are called postpartum doulas. Give us a call!
*There's nothing wrong with alternative medicine, placenta encapsulation, or natural methods of supporting pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. We love it all! We also acknowledge it's not everyone's cup of tea. Postpartum doula support is for everyone, and our support is valued by people all across the spectrum of parenting and lifestyle choices. We bring customized support to YOU. It doesn't look just one way for everyone.
Check out our Vision Statement below!
In our vision for the future, Proud Mama Support Services is a central hub through which independent birth support professionals who share our core values, are mentored and engage in collaborative professional and business development, and families can find top-quality, professional perinatal support that is the perfect fit for them and their family.
We work toward a future in which every person in Corvallis, in Oregon, in the US, and beyond, is aware that professional postpartum doula support exists. In this future, the postpartum adjustment for mothers and parents, early parenting, and infant development is studied, planned for, and supported as much, if not more, than labor and birth itself. This preparation and awareness begins before or during pregnancy, and is woven into the childbirth education, medical care, birth doula support, and the culture around pregnancy at large. Postpartum women, men, and all new parents have access to judgement-free peer support. Each person knows how to access professional mental health services, and those local services truly understand and respond appropriately to the uniqueness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) and other common postpartum struggles. Proud Mama Support Services is an integral part of the postpartum network of support in our local Oregon community.
Additionally, we envision a future where women who are professionally trained, carry specialized knowledge and experience in giving care and support to families during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period, are a valued member of the family's collaborative support team during this life transition. Doulas, who invest in knowledge and skills that benefit families, babies, and parents, benefit from affiliation with Proud Mama Support Services because we are able to have a broader reach in marketing and network as a group than as individual doulas, and because all affiliated doulas align with the core values of Proud Mama Support Services. Clients benefit from choosing Proud Mama Support Services because they can trust that our entire team upholds the same values and the same commitment to excellence in our service to families. Families who hire support through Proud Mama Support Services have access to the cumulative knowledge, experience, and areas of expertise of the entire PMSS Team.
Did you get a flu shot? Do you think anyone else has the right to ask you about it? Do you have a right to ask people who work with your children about their vaccination status, and the status of their own children?
At Proud Mama Support Services, we respect every parents' right to make their own informed decision about vaccinations for their infant, and their right to inquire about the vaccination status of professionals working with them. We also respect the informed decisions our doulas have made for their own health and the health of their families. We do not require all our doulas to disclose their immunization records to us or to clients. However, when a client makes a request for a doula with up-to-date immunizations, we will match that client with a doula who meets their family's needs.
Everyone has a right to make their choice. There are definitely circumstances where it absolutely is the parents' business to know the vaccination status of people who are around their children. Babies and children sometimes have compromised immune systems, and this is just one example of when it IS your business, and we will help find the right support team for you and your family.
Proud Mama Support Services was founded in 2015. What have we been up to for the last 2.5 years? Plenty!
Proud Mama Support Services by the numbers: