You shouldn’t be left feeling alone after the stillbirth of your baby. This article recommends some good resources for parents after experiencing the devastation of stillbirth. It recognises not everyone is ready or able to access stillbirth counselling, but grieving parents need access to the right types of support to be able to move forward after the loss of a baby.
This article recommends other avenues of support aside from counselling, including stillbirth support groups, online communities, books about coping after stillbirth and support helplines, to find understanding and practical guidance.
Stillbirth counselling may not feel right (yet)
It’s normal to feel a range of emotions in the days, weeks and months after experiencing stillbirth and it’s essential to have some support. But not everyone wants to access stillbirth counselling. For many people counselling is a very difficult thing to contemplate, and not everyone feels like they are ready. Sometimes people worry about being overwhelmed by the intensity of their emotions and need time to gain some distance from their experience of stillbirth before counselling. It is important to grieve in your own way, without feeling any pressure to feel ready.
What other types of support are there after a stillbirth apart from stillbirth counselling?
Stillbirth counselling or psychotherapy can help to provide understanding and guidance as you navigate the grief. It is also important to be aware of additional services which can provide comfort and solace. It may take some time to process your grief but it’s important to remember that you are not alone in this difficult journey.
Over the years I have been helping my clients through their grief from stillbirth by signposting parents in the direction of various charities, support groups, helplines, books, and social media accounts that relate to stillbirth.
For instance, I may suggest to a client that they join a support group specifically for parents who have experienced a stillbirth. Or I may also refer them to books, which can provide valuable practical and emotional information on how to process their grief and move forward. Many of my clients find solace in following or participating in social media groups devoted to baby loss and bereavement. Finally, for people who aren’t yet ready for therapy stillbirth support helplines provide a space where it’s safe to talk about feelings and ask questions without fear of judgment or criticism.
Here are some specific recommendations, kept intentionally brief and succinct to avoid overwhelming you at this time.
Books on Stillbirth
Reading about the sorts of thoughts and feelings you might be experiencing after the stillbirth of your baby helps to normalise those experiences and makes it easier to understand that there is no wrong or right way to feel during this difficult time.
Books on stillbirth can also provide valuable practical information, for example navigating the hours and days immediately afterwards, planning funerals and ways of staying connected to your baby as you move forward.
Ask me his name: Learning to live and laugh again after the loss of my baby (Elle Wright, 2019).
Elle’s son, Teddy, dies at three days old and in this book she speaks about her own emotional rollercoaster afterwards, opening up much needed conversations about baby loss and broaches ways parents can begin to move forward (not on).
Empty cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the death of your baby (Deborah Davis, 2016)
The author, Deborah Davis, is a psychologist and this book has chapters on grief, coping strategies, affirming your baby, fathers and subsequent pregnancies, amongst others. It is easy to read, with relatively short chapters requiring little concentration, with practical advice and emotional support.
Stillbirth Support Groups on Social Media
Some of my clients find solace in following or participating in social media groups devoted to stillbirth. Through these resources they can find comfort in sharing their stories with other bereaved parents, or just being part of an understanding group of people who have had similar experiences.
Facebook – Tommys baby loss support group
Facebook – The Worst Girl Gang Ever – Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss Support Group
Stillbirth Support Groups
Connecting with other parents who have been through stillbirth can be an invaluable experience, allowing you to share your struggles and offer each other support. Talking with parents in similar circumstances also provides insights into ways they have worked through their grief and could provide new ideas on how you can cope as well. In addition, having someone who understands what you are going through offers a sense of comfort and hope – even if it is something as simple as knowing that you are not alone in your pain.
Sands Support groups https://www.sands.org.uk/support-you/how-we-offer-support/sands-groups
Stillbirth Counselling Helplines
These helplines are typically run by trained people who have either personal or professional experience of stillbirth. They are often midwives, bereavement counsellors or bereaved parents who know what you most need right now.
Speaking with a trained individual can help you feel more comfortable opening up honestly about your thoughts and feelings than perhaps with friends and family. These professionals can provide you with an open and accepting environment where it’s safe to talk about your feelings and ask questions without fear of judgment or criticism.
Sands Stillbirth Helpline – https://www.sands.org.uk/node/18
Share this post with family and friends to help them help you after stillbirth
Grieving parents can often feel overwhelmed and alone after the stillbirth of their baby. While some family members and friends may be understanding and provide comfort, most often I hear parents feeling misunderstood, and that others do not know how best to be supportive.
Sharing helpful resources with family members and friends can help them better help you. By sharing this article it can help give family and friends an understanding into what you are experiencing, as well as how they can provide meaningful support during a time when you need it most.
Would you add any recommendations to this list?
I am always updating my recommended list of organisations and resources available to help people after stillbirth.
Have you had any personal experience with any of these organisations or resources? Maybe there’s something you found particularly helpful that you would recommend to others. If so, please let me know so I can include it in my list for others to benefit from.
I am a highly experienced Clinical Perinatal Psychologist specialising in helping people in the perinatal period. Supporting women who are hoping to be mothers, preparing to be mothers or are mothers already.
I started Better Beginnings after experiencing challenges on my own journey to motherhood. It made me reflect on how hard this period can be. Fortunately, I had a group of friends who were there to support me. But if I felt like this, with my psychologist training, how were other parents coping?
I became passionate about using my expertise as a Perinatal Clinical Psychologist to make a positive difference to other mother’s early parenthood experiences.