How to recover after the death of a newborn? While the couple Cristiano Ronaldo and Georgina Rodriguez were expecting twins, one of them did not survive the delivery. A tragedy that affects about ten in 1000 births in France. Perinatal grief is still a taboo in our society and socially little recognized, but speech is gradually being released.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our son”† In an Instagram post, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and his girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez announced the death of one of their twins during childbirth. A drama that raises the question of perinatal mourning.
According to the definition of the World Health Organization (WHO), we speak of perinatal grief when parents lose their baby between 22 weeks of amenorrhea and the 7th day after birth. In France, the perinatal death rate is 10.2 births in 1,000 according to the latest figures from DREES.
Suffering a taboo
Parents who experience perinatal grief are often confronted with loneliness and incomprehension of their pain. “The mother and the father know the baby through the feelings, the movements and the echoes, but the relatives do not know, explains the psychoanalyst Marie-José Soubieux, so the parents fight to bring to life the memory that never have seen the light of day”.
The co-author of the book ‘Perinatal grief and support group for mothers’ (Erès edition) followed a group of grieving mothers for fifteen years. Every week it was she who organized the speaking engagements. “They suffered from indifference. People think that if the baby isn’t born, it doesn’t matter. For them, the baby is very quickly forgotten.”
On the side of the Naître et Vivre association, it is important to speak out for families. “25 years ago, when I started at the association, the people who came had experienced their mourning a few years earlier,” explains Myriam Morinay, today people are younger. The profiles are varied, we find women, but also men and gay couples”† talk about his grief “let yourself distance yourself from the pain and have the impression that you have mastered the situation again”encourages the vice president of the association.
To enable parents to participate in discussion groups, Naître et Vivre has developed in the major cities of France. To join these support groups, the association offers exchanges via zoom or face-to-face at one of their branches. In addition, a telephone number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (01.47.23.05.08) for parents or relatives.
How do you support people undergoing perinatal grief counseling?
“Pregnancy is synonymous with life. There it turns into mourning. It can be difficult for loved ones to bring up the subject”, admits Marie-José Soubieux, who has been a specialist in perinatal mourning for 25 years. But little sentences like “Can I do something for you?”† “how do you feel ?”† “We think about you a lot”can make all the difference. “Parents should not feel abandoned”she warns.
In the world of work, it is more common to see single parents, even when things change. “Some comment that their colleague avoids them, no longer invites them to events” the psychiatrist notes. “The turnover, recruitment, projects, all this ensures that colleagues in the professional environment can progress more quickly and can no longer take the suffering of a parent into account”continues Myriam Morinay.
Progress for better recognition
Speech is becoming more and more free around this suffering that has stood still for a long time. Films, books, testimonials flourish on the subject and also touch politics. In the preface to the book “Perinatal Mourning and Support Group for Mothers”Marlène Schiappa, Deputy Minister to the Minister of the Interior of France in charge of Citizenship testifies to the suffering during her miscarriage in September 2021.
“Things have changed since I took office, says Marie-José Soubieux, babies who died during pregnancy can be cremated with hospital waste”† Today, midwives and midwives have more knowledge and can more easily refer bereaved families to support associations.
The civil registry has also been adjusted. Since the 2009 decree, parents can register their child if they wish, even a few years later.
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