Pregnancy after neonatal loss
This information is for people who are pregnant after a neonatal loss. We have information for you if you are trying to get pregnant after a neonatal loss.
We have more information about pregnancy after a stillbirth or after a miscarriage.
Pregnancy can be emotionally challenging for many people. But if you have lost a baby before, it can make it much harder.
Your healthcare team are there to support you and you will have extra care during this pregnancy.
You will get more support in this pregnancy
Any pregnancy following the loss of a baby shortly after birth will be described as ‘high risk’, even if you had a straightforward pregnancy before. This term can sound frightening, but it just means that you will have extra care during your pregnancy.
The type of care you get will probably depend on what happened in your last pregnancy.
Your healthcare team will monitor your health, and your baby’s, very closely. You will probably have extra appointments and scans. You will still have your routine appointments with a midwife, but your care will be led and overseen by a specialist doctor (obstetric consultant) and may also be supported by a specialist midwife.
Some parents choose to be looked after at a different hospital because they feel like going back to the same hospital would be too painful. If this is what you want, you can speak to your GP about a referral, or you can self-refer on your chosen hospital’s website.
Coping with anxiety during pregnancy after loss
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone feels anxious sometimes, but some people find it hard to control their worries. Some people with anxiety also have panic attacks, which can be very frightening.
The fear of losing another baby can be overwhelming and it’s natural to feel anxious about this.
Talk to your GP or midwife about how you feel so they can help you find a way to manage your symptoms.
You may be referred to a specialist mental health team for pregnant women. You may also be offered therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness or applied relaxation with a professional therapist. You may also be offered medication, such as antidepressants.
Tips from parents and experts
- Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Speak to your doctor, midwife or hospital if you need reassurance or you’re worried that you’re not coping. You are not a nuisance and it’s natural for you to be finding this pregnancy difficult.
- You should start to feel your baby move between around 16 to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Get to know your baby’s pattern of movements and contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately if you think your baby’s movements have slowed down, stopped or changed. There are staff on the hospital maternity unit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Find out more about your baby's movements.
- Some hospitals have special clinics for bereaved parents who are pregnant again, such as the Tommy's Rainbow Clinic in Manchester. Check with your local maternity unit to see if there is a clinic or continuity team who can offer extra support. It might also give you the chance to meet other parents who are feeling the same way.
- Write down any questions you might have whenever they come to you. Take these questions to appointments and note down the answers.
- The anniversary of your baby’s birth and death might be a particularly anxious time. Let your healthcare team know that you may need some extra support around that time to talk through how you’re feeling and get the reassurance you need.
- You can ask for a sticker or note to be put on your maternity notes that reminds your healthcare team about the loss of your baby. This should mean that you don’t need to keep repeating the story at every appointment. This can also prevent staff asking unhelpful questions such as "is this your first baby?" You may be able to buy stickers like this online if your hospital doesn’t have any.
- Try writing about how you’re feeling in a diary or letters. Lots of parents use this to get their worries and fears out so they can start to work through them.
- Get support from your midwife to write your birth plan. You may be able to get extra support during birth and afterwards.
- Don’t feel the need to pack a hospital bag or buy any items for your baby. The thought of bringing home a healthy baby can feel impossible, and some parents feel like they’re ‘jinxing it’ if they start to plan and pack for the future. Although this isn’t true, the feeling can be overwhelming. There is no immediate need for anything, apart from a car seat. If you don’t feel able to pack, speak to your midwife. Your hospital with may have some clothes and nappies for straight after birth. You can buy anything else you need later. You could also ask a friend or family member to pack a bag for you and keep it at their house until you need it.
- This pregnancy can feel endless. Try to deal with each day as it comes. Break it down into chunks and think to yourself, “How am I going to get through this afternoon?” It might be a walk, or a catch up with a friend. Be kind to yourself.
- Grief can be exhausting, even more so when you’re pregnant. Find little things that you like doing and try to focus on those – reading a magazine, having a bath, bingeing some TV, painting your nails, swimming or going for a jog can all help. Do anything you need to do to help you get through the day.
- Keep an eye on your mental wellbeing and get help if you need it.
NHS. Generalised anxiety disorder in adults. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/generalised-anxiety-disorder/ (Page last reviewed: 19 December 2018. Next review due: 19 December 2021)
NHS. Your baby’s movements. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/your-babys-movements/ (Page last reviewed: 12 October 2021. Next review due: 12 October 2024)