When can a couple begin trying to conceive again after having a stillborn? It’s one of the most common and complicated questions I see among loss moms.
Individual circumstances, like age and whether or not you had a C-section in your loss, can impact these recommendations but the below seems pretty standard for vaginal delivery recovery (at least for cord accidents– if genetic counseling is recommended because of baby loss due to genetic problems or maternal health problems, the timetable will obviously change…)
One consistent recommendation — if there is a possibility you will TTC again, keep taking your prenatals.
- 3-4 regular menstrual cycles for physical recovery.
- 4-6 months for emotional recovery.
But what about the time it takes for a physical, emotional, and spiritual recovery? No recommendations given… because everyone is different. Deciding to Try again in Still Standing Magazine is definitely worth a read.
One consideration for me is whether or not I think I can handle any other outcome in TTC than a healthy baby… like miscarriage, a diagnosis incompatible with life, a stillborn, an early infant death. No one is ever ready to handle such horror, but there can be a difference in the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual reserves one has to meet such horrors. My reserve bank is pretty low right now.
I would not like for my fourth child to be born in the same season, with similar due dates, etc. as Tinsley. I need an entirely different pregnancy timeline to a) honor the memory of Tinsley’s pregnancy and b) to reduce the number of triggering events, holidays in the new pregnancy.
There are some moments when the thought of having another child is the only thing that keeps me going. Then there are other moments when the thought of having another child seems like the cruelest thing I could ever do to Tinsley (and I feel extremely guilty about wanting another baby). And sometimes those two extremes happen within an hour. I’m just giving this decision over to Time…. it will tell me one way or the other, based on how many moments it seems like the best idea and how many moments it seems like the worst idea.
Another consideration is my living children. They have been through a lot…. and I think they need some normalcy — they need their regular, healthy mom (which I am not when I’m pregnant because of the hyperemesis gravidarum).
I do know, for me, that having another baby is not the answer to grief. I have heard very difficult stories of moms who conceived very quickly after having a stillborn (who did not grieve at all), and they seem to a) have very emotionally difficult pregnancies (it’s going to be difficult no matter what, but they seem to be on the extreme end of difficult) and then b) experience postpartum depression at a higher rate with their rainbow baby (I strongly dislike the term rainbow baby. My stillborn is not a storm).
If the stillbirth was due to an accident, then I’m told I wouldn’t medically be considered high risk but for my peace of mind I would be treated as high risk.
(But I also read that “Women who have had umbilical cord issues with previous pregnancies have as much as a ten-fold increased risk of umbilical cord issues in future pregnancies.” I understand that is still a low percentage, but the information is still terrifying. Also knowing that the majority of fetal deaths occur during the night means if I ever did get pregnant again I would never be able to sleep soundly).
I do wonder how much information-gathering is productive and constructive for me. I want to know everything that happened to Tinsley but some of the data is not comforting in terms of trying to conceive again.
Anecdotally, loss moms tell me the most healing thing for their heart is to have another child. The ‘rainbow baby’ does not and could not ever replace the child that died, but if you are lucky enough to have another (many are not), I’m told it is the scariest, most anxiety-ridden, tumultuous experience of your life. But then you have another beautiful, and this time breathing, baby in your arms.
More to come…maybe…or maybe not. Beautiful poem on the TTC battleground below.