A Reflection on Grief in the Postpartum Period
One does not always associate grief with the postpartum period, especially if there was not a traumatic birthing experience or a loss of some kind, but grief is very real and palpable for some people following birth. One lecturer, Roshni Kavate, brought awareness to grief and for me it explained so much. I have seen it. And I have encountered it at a deep level. I think it is important to call it out or name it: GRIEF. And by naming that grief or understanding the source of that grief is key to navigating it in the midst of joy, pain, triumph, and much more.
Here are some reasons why someone might be grieving during their postpartum period:
Not having the level of support you needed
Loss of previous body
Loss of previous lifestyle
Loss of control: “nothing is like I expected”
Loss of dream birth: “it wasn’t what I hoped for”
Trauma from birth
Loss of a child
Child with birth injury
Child with a disability
Loss a reproductive organ due to an emergency surgery
Painful and exhausting recovery and not being able to fully ‘enjoy’ the postpartum period
Longing to be pregnant again: “that time was enjoyable”
Loss of identity: “who am I now that I have this new baby? or who am I now that I have yet another baby?”
Longing for things to be like they were
Frequent flashbacks of an old grief brought on or compounded by this new grief
What I learned about grief
Grief can be a part of something larger or grief can simply be. I learned that grief is okay, and it is not something that I need to ignore, bury, or hide from. No one ever asked me about grief or sadness during my postpartum period. We should ask about this. I don’t think I could have even named it as grief without prompting, but now I could. Today, I am looking back with new understanding and a new awareness of grief’s presence throughout my life (including my postpartum periods).
Beyond that, it can be helpful to understand that navigating grief is not a forbidden path. We are not alone and sometimes herbs, touch, and food can bring balance. And in bringing balance, it does not mean that the grief goes away, but it means that you can sit with that grief and ask it what it wants to teach you.
Writing compliments of
Lee, Center for Sacred Window Studies student
It is my preference to write this bio in first person. I do not meet strangers so call me Lee; it is what some of my friends call me. I am a dreamer. My goals are to truly live and bring life to those I encounter. I am prayerfully waiting to cast my fruit into the world at spirit-led timing.
Here at the Center for Sacred Window Studies, we share voices from many perspectives and backgrounds. We believe that the sacred weeks post birth, and the experience of humanity is experienced in countless ways. We learn by listening to one another and honoring our stories. The views and opinions of our writers do not necessarily reflect the mission, viewpoints or opinions of the Center for Sacred Window Studies.