Perinatal Grief | Information for Parents

What is perinatal grief?

Perinatal Grief occurs after the death of a baby (either by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, termination, or stillbirth) during pregnancy, birth, or within the first month after their birth. The death of a baby can be caused by preterm birth, birth defects, or other health conditions.

What does it feel like to experience perinatal grief?

Bereaved parents will often fluctuate through the five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining, and Acceptance (Kübler-Ross, 1969). Grief is a very personal experience and the grief process is not always linear. You may find yourself bouncing back and forth among the various stages.

How does perinatal grief differ from other forms of grief?

The major difference with perinatal loss is that the death is of someone who has not been born yet or was not living a long time. Perinatal loss involves not only the physical loss of a baby, but also the emotional loss. 

Perinatal loss is often challenging because the parent does not have any memories of their baby, just their imagination. Therefore, many parents grieve about the imagined life they would have had with their baby. It is common to grieve over what might have been, who your baby may have been, and the time you would have spent together.

Treatment options

If you find your symptoms are overwhelming and you are unable to function in your role as a parent or partner, or you are unable to complete your responsibilities at work or school, you should reach out to your physician or advanced practice provider to request further assistance.