“Abeer” almost lost her mind when she woke up from the anesthesia and learned of the loss of her fetus for the second time.
Society appreciates the tragedy of the mother who loses her fetus, but it may not realize the dimensions of that tragedy that messes with the mother’s soul until it causes her to accuse herself and judge her with conviction.
Nearly 2 million babies are born dead every year, meaning one child every 16 seconds, according to joint estimates from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization, the World Bank Group, and the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
These authorities warn that the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to an exacerbation of the number of stillbirths worldwide, expecting that the decline in health services due to the epidemic will cause about two hundred thousand additional deaths.
“The loss of a child at birth or during pregnancy is a devastating tragedy for the family, and the mother’s suffering from the untold tragedy of stillbirth,” says UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
Henrietta’s words are illustrated by a European study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG), which found that one in 6 women develops PTSD, where anxiety and depression after a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, and the severity of the shock decreases over time. However, levels remain high during the 9 months following the loss of the fetus.
Disturbance that begins with self-blame
Before Abeer lost her fetus in the eighth month, she had gone through the loss of her first fetus in the second month, suffered from weakness and helplessness, she stopped eating, drinking and even talking, why did her body not accept a fetus? Why does the uterus always spit it out?
Abeer tells Al-Jazeera Net, “When I lost my first fetus, I was very sad and felt that it was my fault because I did not know how to protect it, but when I lost my second child, my heart broke.”
With her second pregnancy, she was more careful and fearful, she slept on her back for the first 3 months to keep it safe. She studied every movement and every step before she took it, and the bigger the fetus inside her womb, the more reassured her.
In a report on Psychologytoday, a London-based psychologist, Julia Pino, explains the blame of the woman after a miscarriage to herself, saying, “Although miscarriage continues to be the most common negative outcome of any pregnancy, it is more likely to happen without an apparent cause. A cause of the difficult events that life can inflict upon us, we tend to fabricate a cause. “
Julia explains that blaming women for themselves is the thing that is firmly established, saying, “I have heard women attribute the end of their pregnancy very early to irrational and sometimes heart-wrenching reasons such as standing near the oven and standing near the freezer. I have even heard that women They suspect that their pregnancy has ended because they have doubts or concerns about their being a mother, or because the pregnancy was not initially planned, and I heard that men blame themselves in similar ways as well, but it is more powerful in women.
Yusef, this is how Abeer called him. Before obtaining the burial permit, his father carried him and buried him in a small hole opposite his grandmother’s grave.
Abeer returned to her home, the doctor did not notice the need to rehabilitate her psychologically, and entered the room of her child, who was a potential, but also present strongly in her mind.
For months, she was suffering in silence, and her husband and relatives rushed her to recover or perhaps just show it, she says, “After a few days, they ask me to go out and pay attention to my husband and my house as if nothing had happened. There was not even a child yet for me to cling to, so they told me cruelly.”
She took hold of herself and hid the pain inside her, rejecting her husband’s attempts to conceive again, “I had a strong obsession that all my pregnancy would spoil, it would not be completed and I was very afraid.”
On the advice of one of her friends, she decided to resort to a psychiatrist, and the matter was confidential even to her mother, after several sessions and after many months she became pregnant again, and she was not frightened until she carried her baby in her hands, and after two years she got her other child.
How to recover from guilt?
There is no simple way to get rid of guilt or stop self-blame, but there are some techniques you can try to ease these feelings, a report on the Very Well Family explains some of them:
Understand the guilt
In the case of a miscarriage, guilt is often the result of feeling helpless, even knowing that there was nothing you or your doctor could do to change the outcome, and there was never a failure. So the need to understand that feeling is the first step to recovery.
Make a difference
If you have any concerns that your lifestyle choices may have played a part in your loss, you have the opportunity and power to make changes in your life.
Quitting smoking, for example, reducing stress, getting regular medical care and following medical instructions.
Never restrict your feelings, allow yourself enough time and space to grieve, and express your feelings even to your child who was supposed to come, whether through crying, talking to him out loud, or even writing a letter to him.
Help another woman
It may be too late to change your pregnancy outcome, but working to help others feel the same grief can help relieve guilt.
It can help a pregnant woman, or another who lost her fetus, or help in one of the medical centers designated for pregnancy and childbirth, or in the neonatal intensive care unit in hospitals for low-income people, and the assistance can be material or moral.