Perinatal grief: silent and invisible pain | Digital medium The Northern Fox

Losing a child in gestation or a few days after birth is a mourning that is rarely recognized and respected. How to face such a personal and painful process?

“It is the greatest pain that parents can feel.” With these words Cristiano Ronaldo and Georgina Rodríguez communicated days ago the death of one of the twins they were expecting, calling to respect their privacy and thanking the expressions of affection of thousands of people.

Unfortunately, the reality of this couple is replicated daily in the world, in the shoes of strangers who suffer the loss of the minor who is on the way. “The death of a child in gestation or a newborn is a painful experience, often accompanied by invisibility in care centers, at the family and social level, who do not dimension the impact that this loss has on the parents who go through this process”, warns Carolina Pérez, midwife and academic of the Obstetrics career at San Sebastián University

“There is a tendency to mistakenly believe that the death of a child in gestation or of a newborn is only the departure of that child, without considering that the duel goes through many other edges: the kisses that will not be given, the pranks that will not be experienced, the wonderful smell of that child that will not be known or will feel very little, as well as the mother and/or father that will not be able to be”, comments the academic, who answers some of the many doubts that appear in this situation.

What is perinatal grief?

It is a normal and natural emotional reaction to the death of a loved one, in this case the death of the child from the intrauterine period until 28 days after birth. This duel has characteristics that distinguish it from other types of duel, since many losses are superimposed, for example; the physical loss of the child, the loss of the projected child and the loss of the role of mother/father, among other aspects.

How do you deal with such a difficult situation like this?

There is no single way to deal with it. They are as many and as valid as the parents who go through perinatal mourning. The important thing is always to respect the times, the silences, the emotions, with the aim that the parents can elaborate and resolve the duel. Sometimes there are parents who just want to tell what happened and be heard, on the contrary there are others who do not want to talk and request that you respect their space. The important thing is to have empathetic and assertive support networks, which are capable of containing, welcoming and accompanying the parents in the process until accepting the death of the child.

Should there be more awareness around the issue? Is it a silent duel?

Efforts must be made to raise public awareness on this issue. Every day in Chile children die in gestation or within days of being born. Health professionals and families often avoid talking about the subject with the bereaved, so as not to generate pain and sadness. If we pretend that this death did not happen or is not important – since perhaps the child was not born or died a few days after birth – we are disavowing this mourning and all the feelings of the parents. In Chile, this issue is increasingly relevant. Thanks to the Dominga and Stillbirth Law, we have made progress in relation to the rights of parents who are going through perinatal mourning. Even so, much remains to be done and educated around this sensitive and important topic.

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Perinatal grief: silent and invisible pain | Digital medium The Northern Fox

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