Some people believe that pregnancy is the most seamless thing in the world. When adults speak about pregnancy, they talk about it as if one could get pregnant by simply looking at someone the wrong way.
When you see pregnant women, they seem so calm and happy. One wouldn’t know if they are dealing with pregnancy complications that they don’t want to talk about. They don’t talk about the pain, the mood swings, and the morning sickness except if they are in the midst of other pregnant women.
Pregnancy can be frightening and life-threatening sometimes. While all women can be at risk, black women are two to six times more likely to die due to pregnancy-complications. Pregnancy is not all about baby showers and smiles, it comes with many complications. Let’s take a look.
Even a woman who is not diabetic before pregnancy can become a diabetic during pregnancy. Though this typically resolves itself after labor, it can still be quite dangerous during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman’s body cannot produce the extra insulin needed to control blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is a type of blood poisoning caused by a bacterial infection. It can develop around the 20-week mark in pregnancy, may cause kidney damage, and can get worse throughout pregnancy. Some symptoms include protein in the urine, swelling in the hands and feet, and high blood pressure.
Should regular contractions force the cervix to open after 20 weeks of pregnancy but before 37 weeks (the typical safe time for delivery); a woman can go into preterm labor. Unfortunately, the earlier preterm labor is, the higher the risk for the baby, including fatality and defect risks.
Anemia is defined as having less than a normal count of red blood cells in your body. Low levels of anemia can be normal in pregnant women, since the iron levels are altered during this time. But severe anemia can lead to dizziness, fatigue, and increased risk of complications during delivery.
Failure to progress
Once a woman has gone into a labor, there is a healthy pace at which the baby should move down the birth canal. But in some women, this doesn’t occur. If labor is taking 20 hours or more for a first-time mother or 14-hours or more for a woman who has had children before, this is considered failure to progress or prolonged labor. This brings risks of fetal distress due to lack of oxygen, sepsis, hemorrhage, and long-term risks to the baby’s development.
Miscarriages seem like this dark, secret topic, kept hidden in the corners of our society. Many women feel shame around suffering a miscarriage, and do not share with their friends and family if this occurs. Nearly 20 percent of pregnancies in otherwise healthy women end in a miscarriage, which can be emotionally devastating.
Low birth weight
If your baby is born at less than what is considered a healthy birth weight for babies born between the 37 and 40 week mark, he or she can be at risk for issues like heart infections, learning disabilities, respiratory infections, and blindness.
How to help your children deal with grief
Many parents struggle with how to help their children deal with grief, and the first thing to understand about children is that they will all grieve differently.
After losing a loved one, a child may go from crying one moment to playing the next. Others may shut down, while some may not even acknowledge or seem to comprehend or accept the loss.
Children’s moods will fluctuate from anger at the person who died to feelings of depression, guilt, and anxiety. Very young children may regress to earlier behaviors like bed wetting, throwing tantrums or thumb sucking.
How you can help as a dad
Although it’s hard to know how a child will react to death and the loss of a loved one, try speaking to your child at an age-appropriate level.
If they are young, don’t volunteer too much information as this can be more upsetting and emotionally overwhelming. Instead, be available to answer their questions.
Younger children may not understand the finality and permanence of death while older children will. Children of all ages will have questions and, though it will be difficult, do your best to answer clearly and honestly.
Give clear and honest answers. While avoiding all the details that are not necessary to make your point, avoid saying things like “Grandma went to sleep and won’t wake up again.”
For younger children this can be confusing and may even lead to fears associated with bedtime. By not being direct you are also denying your child the opportunity to develop healthy and necessary coping skills which they will need all of their lives.
It is good for children to express whatever they are feeling as often as they need to. For younger children who may not be able to use words to express their emotions, give them other tools like drawing books. Help them put together a scrapbook and tell them stories about their loved one, and look at the pictures together.
For children of all ages, there are many good books available that deal with the topic of death that you can read together and use as conversation guides.
Attending the funeral is an intensely personal decision that depends upon you and your children. On one hand, funerals can give your child an opportunity to say goodbye and gain some sense of closure. On the other hand, a funeral can be an intense and overwhelming experience.
Children should never be forced to go to a funeral. If your child decides to go, prepare them in advance for what they will see and experience.
Explain that funerals are sad occasions, people will be crying and upset, and if it’s an open casket explain what that means and what they will see.
Please note that even a well-prepared child may have a negative or unpredictable reaction at a funeral and you should be ready to support your child if they do.
Maintaining routines is a critical part of the healing process for children. Your child’s world has been rocked by this major loss and it can be comforting to know that, while very different than before, some things stay the same and “life goes on.”
Children feel safe and secure in the familiar, and by maintaining their routines it gives them something solid to hold on to in a time that is very uncertain and scary.
Taking care of your own grief is an important step in supporting your child. Children imitate the behavior including grieving behaviors and reactions of their parents and close relatives. By openly showing your own emotions it demonstrates to and reassures your children that feeling sad and upset is okay.
Extreme reactions and explosive responses teach your children unhealthy ways of coping. If you feel like your emotions place you in the latter category, call in reinforcements such as other family members and close friends to help out.