After the Loss of a Baby
Not only do you feel emotionally devastated, you may also feel that devastation physically. You may feel fatigue, have insomnia, and the sensation of “empty arms”.
If you lost your baby in the womb, or at birth, you will have had all the signs of having been pregnant with not baby as a result. While your body adjusts to have been pregnant, your non-pregnant hormonal levels may cause an additional postpartum blues (See hand-out: Postpartum Depression). If the baby died while nursing, you still need to cope with the breasts that are producing milk.
You may feel anger at your body that is still recovering from the birth. Even impatient for the signs of having been pregnant or having breast-fed, to go away. Be sure to eat well (see handout: ), get enough rest, and obtain the emotional support you need. After the recovery from birth you will be more able to cope with the grief and be able to focus on your emotional recovery.
Due to the natural hormones of the body after you have delivered, your body will produce milk…even if you have not nursed your baby due to still birth. The breast will feel full and uncomfortable the second to third day after delivery.
This engorgement period lasts up to 48 hours. This “engorgement” is created by the pressure of the fluids in the breast. If you use a breast pump to extract just enough milk to relieve the discomfort, the supply will diminish in time.
Some women prefer to just stick it out, and not pump the breast milk. One risk of doing this is that you may develop a breast infection called “mastitis” (See handout: “Problems During Breastfeeding”). You breast milk will be reabsorbed by the body if you wait it out.
Some books say to bind your breasts as a measure to help you. It is now found that this is not a wise idea. Using ice packs for the discomfort, 5-day regimen of B6, in 200mg. doses, or sit on hands and knees inside the tub with hot water deep enough to suspend your breasts. This allows for the breast milk to flow out without the stimulating effects of pumping, which would increase/continue milk production.
Call your Doctor or Midwife if you notice any of these signs of breast infection:
- Redness, warmth, hardness or tenderness on the breast
- Fever above 100 degrees.
- Generally feeling ill
- The lymph glands under the arms