Perinatal – Neonatal – Infant Grief and Loss

What is Perinatal Grief / Loss?

Perinatal grief is an emotion that people experience after a loss of an unborn baby/fetus.

The loss of the baby can happen spontaneously (miscarriage) or intentionally (abortion). Either way, it brings a lot different types of emotions, such as depression, anxiety, feelings of guilt and shame.

If you have lost your baby, you most certainly are going through grief. Kubler-Ross identified 5 stages of the normal reaction to loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Mind you that people may experience all or some of the stages in this or any other order.

Although all losses need a time for grief – a time for you to reassess where you are and where you are going to do from now on, a loss of a baby/fetus can lead to some feelings of grief that lasts for long time.

A “normal” grief will go away after one year or so. If you have you lost your baby/fetus and you are still suffering for it, you might be suffering with perinatal grief and you might want to talk to a therapist to help you deal with it.

What is Neonatal (Stillbirth) Grief / Loss?

Neonatal grief is an emotion that people experience after a loss of a full term baby (at birth or up to 28 days after birth).

What is Infant Grief / Loss?

Infant grief is an emotion that people experience after a loss of an infant (older than 29 days).

Signs and symptoms of Perinatal / Neonatal / Infant grief

Normal grief might bring you distress, sorrow, heartache, pain, suffering, or will make you be preoccupied, easily tearful, feel helpless, or vulnerable. You may find yourself staring into space, being slow to respond or think, or even have a lowered self-esteem. Although those are normal symptoms of grief, some people find support from psychologists when going through loss.

However, for some people, perinatal / neonatal / infant grief is much more intense, either because they may be feeling guilt and/or shame, or be partially denying the death, may not be showing any grief, or too much grief, may fall into chronic depression, bitterness, avoid any cues/triggers to the loss, or isolate themselves. These people may have their immune systems decreased, or may increase use of alcohol, pills, or drugs. In any of these cases, it is necessary to have a psychologist to help you go through your grief, and help you process the emotional pain, which may be connected to pains of the past and uncertainties of the future.


Causes of perinatal / neonatal / infant grief

Grief is an emotion felt after a loss of someone that was important to you. This grief might resolve itself within a year, or persist for long time.

Dr. Rosana Marzullo-Dove works with people going through many types of losses:

  • Baby loss (infertility issues, miscarriage, abortion, still-birth/perinatal death, or early/neonatal/infant death)

How I treat perinatal / neonatal / infant grief

I often use an integrative approach to treat people with grief/loss issues. I use techniques from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as well as psychotherapy, Mindfulness, ACT, EFT, and other types of therapy I’ve trained on and maybe useful to the treatment. I provide an non-judgmental environment where patients can find support and candidness to be open about their most inner feelings and thoughts.

Typical outcomes of perinatal / neonatal / infant grief treatment

After completing treatment, patients can expect moving to a healthier level of functioning. People who have completed treatment, report higher levels of wellbeing. Although, losing a fetus/baby/infant/child may leave a long-lasting imprint in your soul.

FAQ about perinatal / neonatal / infant grief

How long is the treatment for perinatal / neonatal / infant grief?

Since there are many different types and levels of grief among people, it is expected that the duration of treatment depends of the level suffering and ability to recover from grief and loss. One can expect seeing benefits of therapy in the first couple months of treatment.

How often should we attend sessions?

At the beginning of treatment, people will attend sessions weekly, or even more than once in a week, until all the negative symptoms have been resolved. Later, patients may attend sessions every other week.

My partner/family member who has also been affect by the loss does not want to come treatment. Can I come by myself?

Yes. Grief and loss are better treated in an individual basis. At times, it will be necessary to have family sessions to help with mutual understand and commitment to one another in moving towards healing.  

Do you treat children or teens suffering with perinatal / neonatal / infant grief and loss? What are their symptoms?

Yes. Children and teenagers react differently than adults when they are feeling grief. You might see higher levels of aggression, being isolated, being angry, being anxious, or avoiding activities in children and teens. My practice and treatment for grief and loss is all inclusive.

Consult with a psychologist to get help with your perinatal / neonatal / infant grief/loss issues right away. Dr. Rosana Marzullo-Dove use many techniques to treat individuals and couples who is suffering with perinatal / neonatal / infant grief and loss.

Call (813) 613-8587 now for a FREE 15-minute phone consultation.

Dr. Rosana Marzullo-Dove