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Why new mums struggle at work: A guide to surviving the huge shift - Asian Parent

 

BY Nasreen Majid, May 2017

 

Back to work after maternity leave? Are you struggling? On the verge of breaking down? Read on to find out the reasons returning to work after having a baby is just so tough, and what you can do to make things a little easier.

 

Four months of maternity leave have gone by in the blink of an eye. The time has come. You are returning to work after having a baby. 

 

You look through that long-abandoned section of your wardrobe – crisp work shirts, silk blouses, high-waisted pencil skirts. There is a tinge of excitement growing within you at the thought of getting out of the sweatpants and messy bun that have plagued your appearance for the most part of the last few months.

 

Then your thoughts are interrupted by the sound of your baby crying. Reality hits and it hits hard. You stare at your ashen-faced reflection in the mirror. It dawns on you that when tomorrow comes, you will be away from your baby for most of the day.

 

An unexpected wave of guilt sweeps over you. As your baby’s cries get louder, you start to realise that perhaps returning to work after having a baby is harder than you expected. Panic starts to engulf you.

 

Sounds familiar?

 

Returning to work after having a baby is no walk in the park. Many mothers struggle to adapt to the drastic change in their lives. Some even find themselves gravitating towards postnatal anxiety or depression.

In order to help mums to deal with this situation, we spoke to Silvia Wetherell, lead counsellor, The Choolani Clinic, Mount Elizabeth Novena Medical Centre. She provides a detailed explanation of the challenges of returning to work after having a baby and offers some solutions to facilitate the transition.

Why is the transition so hard? 

 

1. Emotionally difficult transition

 

Jumping right on board after four months of being a full time mum is a huge transformation. Especially if you are a first time mum, you have just spent four months trying to be a mum.

In this short span of time you had to learn how to hold, feed, clothe, bathe, clean and care for a baby. You stayed up all night soothing an inconsolable baby suffering from colic pain. Breastfeeding is something you are barely getting the hang of.

 

You had to deal with physical recovery from childbirth. Your body has undergone a tremendous amount of change during pregnancy. After giving birth, you stare at your reflection albeit not recognising yourself. You don’t look the same. You don’t feel the same. Half your clothes don’t fit.

Then suddenly you’re expected to return to work and get right back into the swing of things. You have just set foot into your office and you are already drowning in a sea of meetings, emails and new projects. It’s like going from 0 to 100.

 

You are barely holding it together and the expectations are for things to be the same as they were before you had a baby. The same working hours, deadlines and stress levels. Many women feel overwhelmed and struggle to cope. Consequently, they start feeling useless. 

These are unrealistically high expectations of a woman says Silvia. 

 

Solution: 

 

A possible way to ease the transition would be to give new mums an adjustment period. Silvia advises employers to have realistic expectations of mums and to start them off with no more than 20% of their actual workload. Give them a few weeks to fully get back on track. 

If such arrangements are not in place for you, do not hesitate to request for them. It is best to speak to your bosses prior to going on maternity leave. Informing them of your plans way ahead of time makes it easier for them to make contingency plans. 

These days, many companies and organisations are pro-family. Do not assume that trying to request for some flexible arrangements would immediately translate to negative appraisals.

Remember mums, going on maternity leave is something you do not have to feel bad about. So do return to work with a positive mindset and pick it up from where you left. 

 

2.Hormones – Baby Brain

 

Returning to work after having a baby is exceptionally difficult due to the hormonal changes after pregnancy. Ever heard of ‘Baby Brain’?

 

You mentally prepare a long grocery list only to stare blankly at the shelves in the supermarket. You search the entire house for your sunglasses only to find them perched on your head. You just can’t seem to remember what you have on this weekend.

 

You burst into tears while watching television. Then you realise that everyone else watching the same show looks at you strangely. It wasn’t that moving a scene was it? 

 

Does this ring a bell? It’s called baby brain. Simply put, baby brain is shrinkage of the grey matter in your brain caused by a huge flood of hormones that affected your brain during pregnancy.

While some areas of your brain shrink, there is significant growth in areas of your brain relating to your baby. You find yourself more forgetful and overly sensitive. This is nature’s way of taking your focus away from logical tasks and preparing you to bond with your baby.

Silvia stresses that in order for you to shift from this huge maternal preoccupation to work mode, your brain needs time. Again, it is of cardinal importance to be realistic.  

 

Solution:

 

Write more to-do lists and reminders, diligently fill in your planners, set phone reminders. Do what you must. But remember, the idea is not to find yourself struggling to keep your head above water.

You may wish to talk to some of your colleagues about your struggles. Consider confiding in a few close friends or the person you directly report to.

Again, this is not for sympathy, or an excuse to get away with work. It is just a humble request for people around you to be a little bit patient, and a little more forgiving if you initially have trouble getting back into business.

 

3.Breastfeeding 

 

Breastfeeding was hard enough when you had your baby camping at your breasts all day. Now that you are returning to work after having a baby, you need to express milk.

 

It’s a hectic day. One meeting after another. You missed a pumping session and your breasts are engorged. You feel uncomfortable. Your breasts hurt. You are leaking milk and staining your clothes.

It’s an exceptionally busy day. 15 minutes are all you have to get lunch out of the way. 15 minutes are also all that you have to pump. Pumping while eating sounds like the only solution. But where?

 

Exactly. Where? Some mums are blessed with a nursing room or a conducive pumping environment with adequate privacy. For mums who work in a tiny, cramped office, options aren’t aplenty. Sad to say, until today, some Singaporean working mums are expressing milk in the toilet. 

 

Do we even need to start on supply issues? 

 

And the feeling of being judged. This judgment is sometimes real but often, it is simply your perception, says Silvia. The anxiety within you is acting up. You fear that people think you are slacking off work by taking time to pump. You read too much into the facial expressions of everyone around you. 

 

Please mums, do not impose such undue stress on yourselves! You are doing what you got to do. Expressing milk does not mean you are skiving.

 

Solution: 

 

Think a little less of those around you. Close your eyes and think of your baby’s face. Remind yourself that this is a necessary pocket of time that you need to set aside in order to nourish your baby. It is important that you take stress out of the equation or you might find yourself struggling to get a let-down. 

 

Communication is key once again. Let those who are working with you know that you will need to express milk every three hours or so. If someone doesn’t look too happy then remind yourself that you cannot possibly please everyone. 

If your job requires you to constantly be on your feet, you need to carefully plan how you are going to slot in your pumping sessions.

 

Your company has an event and you are going to be out of your office the entire day. What do you do? Plan ahead. Call up the location and find out if they have a nursing room or place for you to pump or store your milk. Bring your cooler bag. Think of how you will clean your pumping equipment. 

 

In a worst case scenario, you might have to pump and dump your milk. It’s tough. Undeniably. But mums have a fighting spirit that is unparalleled. I promise you that you will find a way around it if you try hard enough. 

 

4.Juggling work and home 

 

After a hard day of work you return home. You spend the entire drive home mentally going through the dinner menu. You visualise your refrigerator and try very hard to remember if that half a packet of cherry tomatoes is still there.

When you get home you rush to prepare dinner. You take thrice the usual time because you need to attend to a crying baby in between. Or worse, your crying baby and toddler. Then there’s the infamous Mt. Everest pile of laundry eagerly awaiting your attention.

 

Work in the office, chores at home, doesn’t quite end does it?

 

Silvia highlights that even in this modern society, where we speak of equality, the main responsibility of domestic affairs still falls on women. Juggling work and home is incredibly exhausting.

There is also the guilt that women are struggling with. While at work, they are weighed down by the guilt of leaving their baby. When they return home, instead of focussing on the baby they start feeling guilty about work. Silvia sheds light on how many women find themselves trapped in this vicious cycle. 

 

Solution: 

 

Support, support and more support. I cannot emphasise enough just how important support is for a mum who is returning to work after having a baby. 

Husbands need to play an active role. So daddies, please remember to change your fair share of diapers. Consider taking turns for night feeds as well. 

 

The rest of the family should also come together to assist. Ask for help mums, and free some time up. You don’t want household chores taking away whatever little time you have left with your baby. 

Don’t forget you need time just for you. That bubble bath, your favourite Netflix series, a face mask, whatever it is. You need me-time. 

 

5.Separation Anxiety 

 

For the most part of your maternity leave, you were by your baby’s side. You were the primary caregiver. Returning to work after having a baby means being separated for a good eight to twelve hours a day.

Silvia explains that it is the mums who are most likely to face separation anxiety rather than the baby. Additionally, mums may find themselves constantly worrying about the care of the baby.

 

Solution: 

 

You need a plan in place to work towards being away from your baby, advises Silvia. The change from being with your baby all day to working full-time is extreme. The transition has to be gradual to make things easy for yourself and your baby.

 

During your maternity leave itself, take some time away from home. This will help both you and baby prepare for when you return to work. The bonus is that you have some space for yourself!

 

Start planning out the arrangements early. Decide on who is going to look after your baby when you return to work. Let them start getting accustomed to handling the baby.

This will help you to trust the person and have less to worry about when you return to work. It will ease the transition. 

 

6.Intrusive family members

 

Many Singaporean mums struggle to deal with their parents, in-laws or family members constantly telling them what they should or should not feel. When returning to work after having a baby, the last thing a mum needs is for people belittling her struggles and imposing their views on her.

 

A mum also does not need to hear that it is a terrible idea for her to work, or that money is not more important than being with her child. Such things can be extremely undermining for a new mum who is already dealing with a myriad of challenges. 

 

Silvia emphasises that mums need the right kind of support. Practical support to run things and look after the baby isn’t enough. Mums need emotional support Mums need someone to confide in. They need to be heard without judgement. 

 

Solution:

 

Silvia foregrounds the importance of standing up for yourself when the need arises. Remove yourself from an environment that causes you to second guess yourself due to too much criticism. Mums need to be surrounded by people who are encouraging and supportive, not overly critical. 

 

One of the best support systems a new mum can have is to be with other mums. Silvia advises new mums to join What’s app groups, Facebook groups or whatever support groups that work. 

 

Sometimes when you are at work and you find that you are close to breaking down, just being able to rant away on What’s App to fellow mums who can empathise makes all the difference. Even if they cannot fix your problems, just being there for you goes a long way. 

 

Senior assistant executive Serena Lim shares her struggles of returning to work after having a baby. Among other things, she felt lethargic and exhausted due to breastfeeding.  Expressing milk was a challenge as she did not have a proper place to do so. Serena’s teammates were neither understanding nor supportive.

Eventually she suffered from mastitis in her left breast. She could only feed her baby from one breast and struggled to meet her baby’s demand. 

 

Serena’s husband was away and she was mostly living alone with her mother-in-law. Things got so bad that she felt like throwing her baby away. “I remember kneeling on the floor with my baby crying in my arms when no one was home. I wailed and screamed in frustration.” 

 

Over time, Serena found solace in prayer and by reading up more about the issues she faced. She moved in with her mum and gained support from Facebook support groups. Some members of the support group even paid her a home visit to help her cope. 

 

Serena has come a long way and is now a happy mum to a thriving four year old. She has since made a career switch, and is finding purpose and meaning in her new job which involves working with children. 

So mums, always listen to your needs and do what you think is best for you and your child. We hope that this article has helped you to understand the challenges of returning to work after having a baby, and how you can overcome them.

 

You need to be a happy and healthy mum to raise a happy and healthy child. Always look after yourself and never ever hesitate to seek help! 

 

Do keep a lookout for our upcoming article on red flags for working mums slipping into depression and the types of treatment and help that is available for them.

 

Read Full Article here.

Online pressure: When social media pushes new mothers close to the edge - Interview for Channel News Asia on PPD and social media

BY Jalelah Abu Baker, May 2017

 

Everything Ms Malini Pravin Saivi read on social media painted a rosy picture of the pure, unconditional love a mother has for her newborn. So when she gave birth three years ago to a baby girl, she waited for that feeling.

It did not come.

“I’ve seen mothers posting (on Facebook) an hour after giving birth about how all the pain was worth it, with photos of them looking lovingly at their baby. But I didn’t feel that that the pain was worth it,” said the 33-year-old Singaporean, who is currently living in Chennai, India.

What she read online made her feel like a bad mother, but she was too embarrassed to share those feelings with anyone, she told Channel NewsAsia.

 

“New mothers usually share so much of their joy online and they don’t share the downsides. Everyone wants to post a pretty picture,” she said, adding that she believed she would have been subjected to online abuse if she had shared her emotions about not feeling love for her baby.

 

The lack of emotional connection with her new daughter, coupled with pain from lacerations from delivery and an oversupply of milk that led to engorgement, resulted in Ms Malini starting to feel extremely low. A death in her family the day she delivered also took a toll on her.

She started to imagine hurting her daughter, and the thoughts became more violent.

 

However, she did not succumb to them, and things took a turn for the better when she had a routine check-up at the six-week mark at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. She opened up about her feelings, and was referred to a psychologist, who in turn referred her to a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with post-natal depression. With the right medicines, and support from her family, Ms Malini was able to recover, she said.

While social media shaped an idealistic image of what kind of a mother she should be, she also found comfort in other groups on Facebook where she could ask questions and immediately receive a flood of answers from concerned fellow mothers.

 

Psychologists and counsellors said that while social media and online support groups may be a source of help for new mothers, they can often also make mothers insecure about themselves.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA LEADS TO COMPARISON: EXPERTS

 

Counsellor Silvia Wetherell, who specialises in maternal mental health, said that one of the biggest perils of social media for new mothers is comparison. “They are comparing themselves at their worst to a filtered snapshot of a person at their best, when they feel like sharing,” she said.

Photos of mothers who look like they have it all together can make those who are already struggling feel inadequate, giving them a sense of isolation and that they are the only ones not coping, she said. In reality, these well-adjusted mothers may just be very good at hiding their emotions, she said.

 

And the Internet can provide other unrealistic comparison points for emotionally vulnerable mums.

“Now, they don’t only compare themselves to their peers, but to celebrities, who are in bikinis a week after giving birth, going on dates, making it look like motherhood is not a big deal,” she said. They feel like they are failures, and terrible mothers, she added.

 

Ms Wetherell, who every week sees around 20 mothers going through postnatal depression or anxiety, said that pressure to breastfeed is a “huge” contributing factor. “Research shows breastfeeding is very good for the baby, and there is a lot of pressure to breastfeed. Sometimes when it doesn’t work despite the mother's best efforts, it can trigger postnatal depression.”

 

She added that when there is anxiety and pain surrounding breastfeeding attempts, it could hinder a mother’s attachment to her baby.

 

One mother, a 30-year-old civil servant who did not want to be named, knows the pitfalls of using social media all too well. The worst thing for her, she said, was the pressure to breastfeed. She was in several groups with others who gave birth at around the same time as her, and she would see photos of the amount of milk they were able to express.

“I didn’t have as much supply, so I would think: ‘Am I an incompetent mother who is not feeding her child enough?‘” she said. These led to feelings of insecurity, and combined with a lack of sleep, leaving her job and her loss of independence, she would cry for hours at a time.

 

In these support groups, some would also post photos of their text exchanges with their husbands showing how appreciative they were of the new mother breastfeeding. Up alone at night while feeding her baby, she would feel frustrated that her husband would be sound asleep beside her. She also found herself drawn to pictures of attractive mothers on Instagram, loathing herself for being a “blob of fat” months after giving birth.

It was also social media and support sites that led her to create an “idealistic” birth plan which did not go well when it came to the actual delivery.

 

She did not want to take any pain-relief drugs and she wanted delayed cord clamping, which she had read was good for the baby. But these did not happen, and she felt despair at her perceived inability to live up to the ideal birthing and motherhood experience that she had seen online.

Six months after giving birth, she sought counselling help from a family service centre near her, in order to make sense of her constant anger against everyone, and it helped her.

 

DIGITAL DETOX

 

However, postnatal depression, if unchecked, can lead to suicide - as it did in the case of 29-year-old Koh Suan Ping, who jumped to her death from a block of flats in Bukit Panjang with her two-month-old daughter in her arms.

Five days before, she had searched online for “what to do when there is no way out”. Her husband and colleagues said she was upset she could not produce enough breast milk to feed her daughter, stressed at having to find a replacement domestic helper, and concerned that her company, where she was a sales manager, was not doing well.

 

While seeking help, whether online or in person, is encouraged, centre manager of Care Counselling Centre Jonathan Siew said that even positive, empowering information may have a negative effect on mothers who are already struggling. 

"At the centre, we usually have mothers coming in a year or two after giving birth, finally deciding to seek help. Social media is a new thing mothers grapple with and it has a great impact on mental wellbeing," he said.

 

Ms Wetherell agreed, saying that mothers may have too much information, some of which could be conflicting. “Instead of trying to get to know their baby, they are trying to get information online on the average child, she said.

She added that she has had her clients go through a digital detox, with access to their social media accounts only on a computer, instead of on their mobile phones, and her clients found that they felt much better after they did that. 

 

"Social media can help, but mothers should set boundaries. For example, 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon, and 20 minutes at night. One of the things I teach is to be present and mindful, because social media is distracting," she said. 

 

While the 30-year-old mother that Channel NewsAsia spoke to does not have such boundaries, she recognised that the unrealistic standards social media set for her were not helping her. She did a "wipe-out" of her social contacts on both Facebook and Instagram. 

 

"I deleted toxic friends, and unfollowed the hot mums on Instagram. Even when I see mums flaunting photos online now, I take them with a pinch of salt," she said.

 

View full article here.


Family members are key to supporting new mums - Interview by TODAY newspaper on Postnatal depression

BY FARIS MOKHTAR, May 2017

 

"Mistaking what they are feeling for a bout of the baby blues, shame at their parental ability, and stigma are the common reasons for mothers with postnatal depression to suffer in silence, experts said.

So, people around women who have just given birth — for the first time, especially — have important roles to play, to provide support or spot red flags, experts added.

Postnatal depression is estimated to affect 6 to 8 per cent of women here, but going by anecdotal evidence, only a fraction of these women seek help. 

 

Taking the 33,000 births last year, for instance, about 1,800 women, conservatively speaking, would have suffered from postnatal depression. The Women’s Mental Wellness Service at KK Women’s and

Children’s Hospital, however, saw just about 80 new cases.

Dr Chua Tze-Ern, a consultant from the centre, said the low rate of those seeking help is partially because most people, including new mothers, assume that the emotional duress experienced post-delivery is due to hormonal changes alone. 

 

Since they do not recognise the symptoms of postnatal depression — low mood and lack of positive emotions persisting beyond two weeks, affecting one’s ability to function, among others — they might not seek professional help, she said.

 

Feeling ashamed of getting help is another significant barrier, said Ms Jolene Tan, who is the head of advocacy and research at the Association of Women for Action and Research. The mistaken thinking that parenting comes instinctively is not uncommon, but motherhood is actually a steep learning curve involving great physical and mental stress, she noted.

 

“The idea that mothers should naturally know what to do, or that caring for a newborn is always joyful, can magnify a feeling of failure when new mothers face ordinary challenges and frustrations,” Ms Tan added.

Some mothers also fear that by seeking professional help, they may be seen as unfit to care for their child.

Ms Silvia Wetherell, a counsellor at The Choolani Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, added that “there is simply lack of understanding on the part of families and friends”.

About 80 per cent of her patients are expatriates, but she has seen a 10 per cent increase in the number of local patients in the last six months.

 

“Mental illness is like a broken leg. It’s not obvious, but you need to treat it. If it’s a broken leg, everyone will be saying that you need to see a doctor,” said Ms Silvia.

Experts said that people around new mothers should be careful about not flippantly dismissing cries for help as simply exhaustion or a natural state of affairs for inexperienced mothers.

They noted that, if not managed properly, postnatal depression not only affects mother and child developing a close and nurturing relationship, but also leaves husbands stressed out, and eventually, affecting marriages. 

“Depression does not just affect one person at one point in time, it impacts the family, potentially on a long-term basis,” said Dr Chua.

 

While more support could be given to new parents, such as more leave days and flexible work arrangements, family members remain the key sources of support for new mothers, said experts. 

It could be as simple as providing a listening ear, and communicating with new mothers to help them emotionally. Or helping out with household chores and caring for the child so the mother gets a break, they said."

 

View full article here


Stigma, lack of awareness among reasons women don’t seek help for baby blues - Interviewed as an expert by TODAY newspaper on PPD

 

BY FARIS MOKHTAR

 

View full article here

 

She was feeding her one-month-old baby girl when Susanna Nickalls had a mental image of her cutting herself and harming her child. She was feeling annoyed because her husband had overslept and missed his turn to feed their daughter.

“I felt let down. My thought process was: ‘If anything happens to me or my baby, my husband would be sorry’,” recalled the 36-year-old, of that day in April 2013.

 

After shouting at her husband and crying for an hour, Ms Nickalls confided in a good friend about her emotional distress. Persuaded to seek help at the National University Hospital’s Women’s Emotional Health Service, she was diagnosed with mild postnatal depression.

It was then that Ms Nickalls realised she had also suffered from postnatal depression for a few months after giving birth to her son two years earlier.

At that time, she was also easily annoyed, such as when she could not find her shoes and it felt like it was “the worst thing in the world”. She blamed her mood swings on a number of things, unaware that it was postnatal depression.

 

“I thought it was because of the sleep deprivation and I thought I was failing as a mother,” said Ms Nickalls, a Briton who has been living here for eight years. “I didn’t think that uncontrollable crying was part of postnatal depression. I thought it’s just hormonal.”

Ms Nickalls’ lack of understanding of postnatal depression is not uncommon here. Experts told TODAY many women do not recognise the symptoms, and even those who do resist seeking help out of fear of how others would view them.

 

Around 6 to 8 per cent of mothers suffer from postnatal depression — this translates to at least nearly 2,000 women, using last year’s figure of 33,000 births. 

But since 2008, the Women’s Mental Wellness Service at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital has seen only about 700 new cases of postpartum depression. The peak was in 2012, when there were almost 100 new cases. Since then, it has averaged at around 83 cases.

 

The low awareness of postnatal depression was highlighted as an issue to tackle in a coroner’s inquiry last week into the case of Koh Suan Ping, 29, and her two-month-old daughter, Jaelyn Ng, who were found dead at the foot of their Fajar Road block in November last year. 

In ruling that Koh took her own life in the fall from height with her baby because she was in postnatal depression, State Coroner Marvin Bay said it was important that new mothers — and those around them — know about the condition and how to find help.

 

Housewife Amanda (not her real name), 28, who was diagnosed with the condition several months after her second son was born in December 2015, agreed that more people need to learn about the stress of motherhood and postnatal depression.

Between caring for her six-year-old firstborn and household chores, she was tied up with her newborn, leaving her exhausted and agitated at the end of days that typically lasted 17 hours.

“I would cry with my baby and ask, ‘What do you want?’” she said.

 

Amanda took her frustration out on her husband and they quarrelled nearly every week.

“When I got into a heated argument with my husband, I think of ending my life because it’s so tiring,” she said. “But I kept thinking of my kids, and I can’t just leave them behind. That held me back.”

Amanda said her mother was the one who sensed that something was amiss. “My mom said it might be good for me and my children if I get medical help, rather than wait for things to turn ugly,” she added.

Although she was afraid that she would be judged by others as being mentally ill, Amanda saw a psychiatrist but has kept it a secret from friends.

 

“I don’t want people to think that I’m not a good mother. And I don’t want my friends to keep their distance away from me, and say, ‘Is she going to go crazy or something?’” she said.

Sharing similar sentiments, Jamie (not her real name), a 31-year-old teacher who also slipped into depression after giving birth to her daughter last August, said the stigma weighs on mothers struggling with the condition.

 

“The fact that I am uncomfortable to give my name reflects this. I don’t want my parents or my in-laws to get comments from their friends about it,” she added.

Healthcare professionals, these women said, ought to educate parents-to-be on postnatal depression during prenatal check-ups, and share resources, such as information on the different help centres. But it still takes support and vigilance from loved ones after baby is born to ensure mothers who need professional help get it promptly, they added.

 

Ms Nickalls noted: “Mothers-to-be should not just plan about getting those cute socks, but plan for their mental health care as well.”

 

View full article here


Interview for Motherhood Magazine, May 2017

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Coping with child loss: Advice from the experts - Article for TODAY Newspaper on Pregnancy Loss

By ALISON JENNER, December 2016

 

The loss of a child, whatever stage it happens, is one of the most profoundly painful and inconsolable experiences for parents to deal with, experts TODAY spoke to said.

 

“It violates the natural order of things — as children are not supposed to die before their parents. It evokes rage at the injustice of it all — it is not fair for an innocent child to lose his potential and fail to see his dreams fulfilled,” said Ms Majella Irudayam, Principal Medical Social Worker and Chairperson, Bereavement Support Committee, KK Women’s And Children’s Hospital (KKH).

 

When it does happen, parents can sometimes try to rush through or even skip the important grieving process because they want to avoid those painful emotions. But it is important that the parent allows him or herself to grieve and reaches out for support from family and friends, said Ms Silvia Wetherell, Counsellor at The Choolani Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Novena Medical Centre.

Shock, confusion and feelings of extreme suffering and pain are all normal, and parents should not feel pressured to rush the healing process.

 

“It may take weeks or even months to come to terms with the pain of their loss ... Bereaved parents need to know that the pain of the loss will never disappear. With time, they will find ways to cope with the pain,” said Ms Irudayam.

 

Some parents, the experts said, have found that spiritual, religious or symbolic rituals can help with coming to terms with a loss. Writing can also be very therapeutic and parents are at times encouraged in counselling sessions to write a goodbye letter to the child, said Ms Wetherell.

 

They also recommend creating a memory box of their child with tangible items such as photographs, journals, handprints and footprints. This can provide comfort and healing as they act as meaningful reminders of their child’s existence and a physical go-to when they want to remember the life that was lost.

 

For friends and family of the bereaved parents, the experts advise allowing the parents to express their feelings and pain as much as and as often as they want to. Be careful, though, when trying to comfort the parent that you avoid making comments such as: “It is God’s will” or “At least you have another child”.

 

Finally, on difficult occasions such as birthdays, the death anniversary, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, the experts said, giving the parent a telephone call, visit, or card would mean a great deal.

 

Parents who have suffered the loss of a child can seek support from among others, Child Bereavement Support Singapore at http://www.cbss.sg, Facebook group “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group Singapore”, KKH’s Department of Psychological Medicine (Mental Wellness Service) and NUH’s Women’s Emotional Health Service. ALISON JENNER

 

Full Article here.

 

Video interview for Parent Town on pre and postnatal depression