Chapter 2: Grief after pregnancy or infant loss
Feelings of guilt or blame
I felt a lot of “mom guilt,” wondering if I did the right things or if my baby died because I really didn't love her or maybe even want a baby. Now I know that all moms feel that way, and that I’m okay.
“I blamed myself for months. When you are the person growing the baby, it feels like that child’s life is in your hands.”
It is not unusual to have feelings of guilt and blame when you experience an early pregnancy or perinatal loss. You may blame yourself or your body for the loss of your baby. Insensitive comments from others can add to these thoughts and feelings. You may have thoughts such as:
- “I had a hot bath and didn’t always sleep on my side. It’s my fault.”
- “I did everything right, ate only the healthiest foods, and stayed in shape. What’s wrong with ME and my body if, despite all of this, my baby died?”
- “The autopsy showed no cause, so it must be my fault if there was nothing wrong with my baby.”
- “I was told everything was fine. If someone had caught something sooner, may be my baby could have lived.”
Perhaps you blame someone else, including your partner, for your loss. You may feel that you have been failed by healthcare professionals, by God, or by someone else.
Below are some examples of thoughts and feelings of blame you may be experiencing toward your partner or someone or something else. Click the switch button to view some examples.
“If only my partner hadn’t insisted that we go camping. We could have gotten to a hospital much sooner.”
“I’m angry that my husband pushed me into getting pregnant again so soon after my first miscarriage.”
“Why didn’t she listen to me when I said something was wrong?”
“Maybe if he’d been more supportive and attentive to my needs, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“I still ask myself, ‘What if I had gotten different advice from the midwife about going to the hospital?’”
“While we were waiting at the hospital, I was sent to the washroom right off the waiting room. There was this swoosh of blood, and the fetus fell out on the floor in a public washroom. It was terrible. They shouldn’t have sent me there.”
When your partner takes on the blame
- “My partner felt like it was his fault – that it was something wrong with his genes. We both struggled with this.”
Your partner may also have thoughts or questions that fuel feelings of guilt, blame, and even anger. Examples of these thoughts include:
- “If only she had eaten better. That must be the reason the baby died.”
- “I kept telling her that she should rest more, but she wouldn’t listen.”
- “It’s my fault. I knew I shouldn’t have agreed for us to try to get pregnant in the first place.”
- “I should have been more supportive of my partner so they weren’t so stressed.
Perhaps you simply wonder why this happened to you:
- “I’m a good person. There are so many people who can have babies. Why did this happen to me?
Consideration You may be struggling with feelings of a loss of control or loss of trust in the universe. In time, you may come to understand that this loss was not your fault or the fault of anyone else. You may notice that your self-confidence is slowly returning, and you may gradually begin to feel ready to rejoin the world.
What may help
- Acknowledge your thoughts of guilt and blame, even if this is difficult. Keep in mind that these thoughts are normal after the loss of a baby and can last for some time.
- Find support for coping and working through your feelings and thoughts through empathetic family and friends, professional counselling, or support groups.