Podcast Episode #85

Pregnancy after loss [Part 2]: Robyn Birkin from The Fertility Warriors

Pregnancy after loss might be a time filled with guilt, anxiety and mixed emotions.

In this 2nd episode of a two part series with Robyn Birkin, Robyn describes the emotions that can come with pregnancy after miscarriage, including:

What pregnancy after loss feels like
How can I stop worrying about pregnancy after miscarriage?
Is it normal to have anxiety during pregnancy after miscarriage?

Robyn also discusses strategies to help support and overcome the emotions that can come with pregnancy after loss, as well as advice for those with a friend or loved one experiencing this.

I trust you will find this incredibly important topic discussed today about fertility, life, and pregnancy after miscarriage valuable.

Please be advised that this episode comes with a trigger warning as we do discuss miscarriage, loss and infertility.  If this is triggering for you, please do consult your healthcare provider or any of the resources below.

Episode Links

Register for my FREE Pregnancy Workshop here.

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Website: https://www.fitnestmama.com/

Instagram: @fitnestmama

Robyn Birkin’s Instagram:  @robynbirkin

Robyn Birkin’s website: https://www.robynbirkin.com

PANDA: https://panda.org.au/

Beyond Blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au

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Pregnancy after loss with Robyn Birkin [Part 2]

Transcription

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that this transcription was completed with computer voice recognition software. Quite often unanticipated grammatical, syntax, homophones, and other interpretive errors are inadvertently transcribed by the computer software. Please disregard these errors. Please excuse any errors that have escaped final proofreading.

INTRODUCTION

If you are pregnant or you’ve recently had a baby, this podcast is for you. I am your host, Kath Baquie. A physiotherapist working in women’s health and a mum of three. Join me each week as we dive into all things pregnancy care, childbirth and postnatal recovery. Helping you have a wonderful pregnancy and after birth experience. And don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any episode.

KATH BAQUIE

Well, hello there. Thank you for joining me for another episode of the FitNest Mama Podcast today. So, today’s episode is the carry on from last week’s episode. Last week, I was honoured to chat with Robyn Birkin, who is a life coach for fertility. And she’s a podcast host of The Fertility Warriors. So, if you haven’t listened to last week’s episode, just stop it here and scroll back to the previous episode. So last week’s episode on Secondary Infertility is a perfect one to listen to first and then follow it up with this shorter episode. That’s really it’s perfect for rounding it all up and wrapping it all up. And Pat is on pregnancy after loss this pregnancy after miscarriage really important topic to discuss something I don’t believe we talk about enough in society and I was really grateful to chat to Robyn today.

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Do dive into this episode with Robin all about pregnancy after loss. I do invite you if you are pregnant, to come and join my Free Pregnancy Workshop. It’s a one-hour workshop that I designed to help you feel more confident and empowered about your upcoming childbirth experience. In this workshop, you’ll learn about pelvic floor preparation. So, you will learn about perineal massage how it can help to reduce your risk of perineal tears and episiotomy. And you’re also going to learn about After Birth Recovery Essentials to help boost that important after birth recovery period. So as a women’s health physiotherapist, everything I share in this free pregnancy workshop are things that I believe every woman deserves to know when pregnant, to really help with their childbirth. And after birth recovery. To register for this free workshop, head to fitnestmama.com/free and the link is also in the show notes. Alright. Let’s get back into this episode with Robyn.

Okay, so Robyn, this is we’re coming back for a second episode and we’re talking about Pregnancy After Loss. We were going to do it in the last episode. But it just it went on a bit too long. And I thought it’d be amazing to break it up. So here we are again. So, thank you for hanging around pregnancy after loss. It’s we’ve just talked about Secondary Infertility. It’s a huge, it’s a huge topic, he gave some really good strategies that hopefully people found really valuable if you’re listening. So now let’s talk about pregnancy after loss, because it’s also another huge topic.

ROBYN BIRKIN

I love talking about pregnancy after loss. I don’t love pregnancy after loss. But it’s something that we need to talk about. And it’s something that does happen. And it’s something that can feel someone with anxiety.

KATH BAQUIE

I can only imagine. Absolutely. So, what are the common stressors? What are the common emotions that a woman might feel is she has found out she’s finally pregnant after a loss?

ROBYN BIRKIN

Sheer, terror, that history will repeat itself. So, it’s almost probably the best analogy that I can give it for pregnancy after loss is almost this feeling of feeling terrified to not keep trying but also feeling terrified to get pregnant. And depends on you know, it can depend on how we miscarried or lost the baby the first time. But it can manifest in ways such as all like obsessively checking for blood every time we go to the toilet. Feeling like we’re holding our breath constantly. Until the next milestone of feeling like I finally calm down. Once I have to hear the heartbeat, or finally calm down once I have my nuchal scan, but then feeling like that opportunity to let our guard down never comes unless we do something about it.

KATH BAQUIE

And I can only imagine that is just so exhausting in itself, which is also a huge thing.

ROBYN BIRKIN

And it robs us of the joy of having that pregnancy. So that, you know, the more that we can, number one, what we talked about in the last episode, give ourselves some grace and honour that what we’ve been through was actually a really big thing so it’s okay to know not be okay, all of the time. But also empower women that more help more support is always a good thing. And that the village starts before the baby comes, employ your village as early as you can.

KATH BAQUIE

And in terms of the village comes before the baby comes, can you elaborate on that? Like, what do you mean?

ROBYN BIRKIN

One of the biggest lessons that I have learned not just in motherhood is and how many people can relate to this, of feeling like you are stuck in the throes of motherhood and doing it all on your own. Even just the mental load of managing. I’ve got to do laundry, and then I’ve got this appointment. And then I’ve got that is huge. So, the mother’s by and large, who thrive are the ones who get into motherhood and say, “Yes, I am going to ask you to do my laundry.” “Yes, I am going to ask for some someone to look after my kid and not feel guilty about it.” So, when we feel pregnant after a loss, what that looks like is actually saying to yourself, when might I not be okay, with what’s going on, right? Maybe you are in early pregnancy, and you feel like you can’t tell anyone? Can you lean on your partner more? Maybe you feel like this trauma from that first time around. And actually I do want to feel differently and have the ability to enjoy this pregnancy, and then saying, “Okay, well what mental health support exists for me?”, and really drawing on building a team of people, if you’re a sports person, if you’re an elite sports person, training for the Olympics, right? You don’t have to be a gold medallist, you can be training for the Olympics, and you best believe that they have a nutritionist, a physiotherapist, a mindset coach, they have all these people, supporting them and helping them. So, if we can approach that in life, life gets so much easier. And we don’t have to wait until some magical moment of becoming a mother or continuing to martyr ourselves, even into motherhood, to start drawing on that team. And one of the things I always say, and I work primarily with women who have been high achievers their whole lives.

One of the differentiating factors between CEOs and like, low to mid-level managers is that the CEOs don’t try to do everything themselves. They delegate, like you can help me with this, you can help me with this, they ask for help. They say oh, it’s not my wheelhouse, you can help me with that you can help me with that. So that’s it, you know, when we look at our lives, you know, you are, you know, the neck of your household, right? Not the head, you’re the neck, you get to control whichever way that household goes. And so, you know, we don’t have to wait till some you know, motherhood moment, if we’re not coping or if things are hard. Whether you’re pregnant, whether you’re still trying to conceive, whatever that is, bring in that team pronto.

KATH BAQUIE

I love that. And that’s partly about controlling the controllable. You know, you can’t control what has happened to you and you can’t control the fact that you’ve had a miscarriage. But you can control what’s happening in your life on a day to day basis and minimizing I guess, the stress where and when you can. So, that’s brilliant. That’s great advice for pregnancy after loss, but also motherhood in general, I reckon, gathering that village, gathering that tribe, not feeling guilty if you are outsourcing and doing all the things whatever you need to do. So brilliant.

ROBYN BIRKIN

Yeah.

KATH BAQUIE

Okay, so we have talked about Pregnancy After Loss. We’ve talked about common emotions, are there any other tips you would give or any final words of advice you would give to women who are dealing with pregnancy after loss?

ROBYN BIRKIN

I would. Definitely. So, this is what I say to, you know, some of our reset members. Affirmations can be really a really powerful thing that I think a lot of it supports a lot of our members. So, a lot of them will do little meditations but one of the affirmations that I really love and what I love to talk about is what if I’ve already arrived, right? So rather than sitting there and saying I’ve just got to wait till the next scan, I’ve just got to wait till you know my nuchal scan. I’ve just got to wait to viability I’ve just got to wait till it is right until I can let my breath go. What if you allowed yourself this is different to advocating for yourself and being like, you know what? I’m a customer of this hospital and if I think that something’s not right, don’t best your best believe I’m going to pick up the phone. This is different to that. But what if I trusted that everything in my pregnancy was fine until someone told me it wasn’t? What if I trusted that this pregnancy was very, very different to my last pregnancy? Different conditions. Different pregnancy. Different egg and embryo and the majority of pregnancy loss is due to chromosomal abnormalities. So, it literally can be a completely different scenario. And even after women have had multiple losses, like three losses or more, in actual fact, the statistics show that they’re still more likely to have a viable, like live birth than not. So how can I say to myself, if I like looking at a bird’s eye view, do I want to spend my pregnancy sitting in anxiety every moment? Or do I feel like I want to get to the end of this pregnancy and be like, I soaked up every moment of however long it lasts, or lasted, honouring, you know that what my body is doing, honouring, and connecting with the spirit of my baby, and really tuning into that. And one of the affirmations I really love is, what if I’ve already arrived? Not, you know, I’ll arrive when I have my nuchal scan, or I’ll arrive when I’m at, you know, 23 or 24 weeks. What if I’ve already arrived? What if I allowed myself to buy the cot to buy the maternity clothes? Because so many of us are bloated and uncomfortable in our normal clothes, like eight weeks. You are not jinxing it, you are not magically declaring to the universe that everything should go wrong if you buy a pair of comfortable maternity pants at eight weeks pregnant. So, what if we allowed ourselves to tune in to and it doesn’t have to be the thing with affirmations? It doesn’t have to be these big declarations, when you’re but when your brain is saying what if this pregnancy doesn’t work out? What I love doing is just answering back with, but what if it does?

KATH BAQUIE

I love her. And that, to me sounds like such a huge, like if you can master this mindset shift. And instead of saying, oh my gosh, what if it doesn’t happen? You say what if it does and trusting that it is all okay. When you were first talking about it, I felt like this resistance. It was really weird. I felt like this innate. Oh, because I can only imagine if I was pregnant after a loss, how much you would want to resist that innate trust?

ROBYN BIRKIN

Yeah, but your brain, you know, and I think we just talked about this last episode, your brain is designed, you’re your brain thinks just as your heart beats. So, one of the big shifts that I talked to people about is it’s not about always shifting our thoughts. If your brain things about this could go really pear shaped like what’s the worst-case scenario, if that’s what your brain is exactly designed to do? And it thinks automatically, right? But your power is in your relationship to your thoughts. So, it’s not about cancer, like not ever having thoughts, because then what we do is we have these thoughts of what if this isn’t going to work? And then we’re like, oh, my God, I’ve had this terrible thought. How can I stop these thoughts? Actually, don’t worry about whether or not you have the thought. You’re completely normal. Worry about how can I disarm and take away the power in that thought. Because if I told you, a rocket is going to crash on your head in 10 minutes time. You’d be like, “Okay, crazy lady.” You would not believe me, you would not give power to that thought, right? The power is in how much you believe that thought? And how much you believe that to possibly be true. So, you don’t even have to believe you know, that this is 100% certain, “Yes, I’m going to have this glorious pregnancy. Everything’s going to be fine.” Right? But you can just say, well, actually, that’s what my brain is designed to do is look at the worst-case scenario. And what if it doesn’t work? But what if it does?

KATH BAQUIE

So, you counteracting those negative thoughts with okay, but maybe it will work? Or maybe it will be okay. Or what if, yeah, I love that. I feel like this…

ROBYN BIRKIN

And sometimes our fears masquerade as facts. It’s not a fact that it’s not going to work. It’s a fear. And when we look at this with the evidence, what true evidence do we have that this won’t work, when actually the statistics say that it’s actually more likely to work than not work. So, if we can sit down and try to disarm the fears in our minds that are masquerading as facts, we are able to give less power to those fears.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah, wow. That’s powerful. And I feel that this could if you’re listening to this, like this can relate to almost any facet in life, you know, relationship with partner, your business, work.

ROBYN BIRKIN

Yes. And, you know, research shows that Something like 90% of the thoughts that we have in our brains as normal functioning human beings are negative. So many of them are worst case scenarios, but something like 80% of like worst-case scenarios never occur.

KATH BAQUIE

Wow.

ROBYN BIRKIN

We’re worrying about things that are unlikely to occur, so it’s okay to it’s okay for your brain to think that that’s what it’s supposed to do doesn’t mean we have to believe it, or give power to it.

KATH BAQUIE

So, your thoughts give rise to your feelings and your feelings give rise to your actions.

ROBYN BIRKIN

Exactly.

KATH BAQUIE

Meaning, the way you think impacts the way you feel and the way you feel impacts what you do in actioning these things.

ROBYN BIRKIN

Which then impacts the experiences that you have in life. But step one isn’t in cancelling, like finding the magical cure, cancel your thoughts. It’s actually about whether or not to give power to those thoughts. Because if we, if we give power to the thoughts that this pregnancy, whatever it is, this business, you know, won’t work, then we start taking actions. And like we start having these big feelings towards things which influence what actions we take, which influences what experiences we have. It’s not like, you can’t use it only after you’ve been through that process. Do you then start shifting those thoughts? It’s actually shifting the relationship to the thoughts. That is step one.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah. Powerful. Now backtrack a bit, because you were just talking about statistics. Can you quickly let us know the statistics about pregnancy after loss that you were mentioning?

ROBYN BIRKIN

That is a great question. So, I feel like I actually get this wrong sometimes. But something along the lines of even if you have had three or more consecutive losses, there’s a 57% chance that you’ll still have a viable pregnancy.

KATH BAQUIE

Okay.

ROBYN BIRKIN

You’re more likely and the vast majority of people don’t have recurring loss. It’s actually a very small percentage of the population who have recurrent pregnancy loss. So, it’s a thing, there’s a significant number in my community who deal with that, but that’s because that is my community. But by and large, you know, somewhere around like upwards of 90% of people do not experience recurrent pregnancy loss and even after three or more consecutive losses, actually still more likely to have a viable pregnancy.

KATH BAQUIE

Lovely to know. And I will ask that question to the doctor who will have on next too, to get her, I’m sure she got some stats and research around it. So, thank you, Robyn, for everything. for the last two episodes. Let us know how do we find you.

ROBYN BIRKIN

So the best place to find me is probably on Instagram, @robynbirkin. And that’s Robyn with a “y” and Birkin with two “i’s” and the other place to find me so if any of you are navigating infertility, pregnancy loss, secondary infertility, then you can come and find me as well on The Fertility Warriors Podcast. We are nearly up to 200 episodes, which blows my mind.

KATH BAQUIE

Amazing.

ROBYN BIRKIN

But there’s definitely lots of everyone.

KATH BAQUIE

That’s right. And we spoke recently about just taking a photo there. We spoke recently on your podcast about pelvic floor and pregnancy and everything in between. So that was great.

ROBYN BIRKIN

And the importance of it and the importance as well on just how life changing a woman’s specialist physio can be.

KATH BAQUIE

Absolutely. I will put all those links in the show notes because I think yeah, anyone who is experiencing issues in this area please do touch base with Robyn. Come and let us know on Instagram. Send us both a DM and let us know that you’ve listened to this podcast episode 2, we would both appreciate it. So, thank you. Once more again, Robyn, the work you do is so invaluable for so many women out there. Your podcast is amazing. So great to chat today. Thank you.

ROBYN BIRKIN

Lovely chatting with you again. Thanks for having me, everyone.

KATH BAQUIE

And before I sign off remember my team and I will be putting together the show notes for this episode with all the links including how to connect with Robyn at www.fitnestmama.com/podcast. And don’t forget to send Robyn and myself a DM on Instagram. We would love to hear from you. If you have been enjoying these episodes, if you could head to Apple podcast, that Apple iTunes, if that’s where you listen to your episodes and scroll all the way, head to the FitNest Mama Podcast and then scroll all the way down to the bottom and leave me a rating and review because it really does help this podcast get found by more people. Leave your handle if you’d like. Got to give you a shout out on Instagram and it’s so lovely to hear from y’all. So that’s it ladies. Have a fabulous day everyone and I look forward to you joining me next week for another episode of the FitNest Mama Podcast.

Thanks for listening to the FitNest Mama Podcast brought to you by the FitNest Mama Freebies found at www.fitnestmama.com/free. So please take a few seconds to leave a review, subscribe so you don’t miss an episode. And be sure to take a screenshot of this podcast, upload it to your social media and tag me, @fitnestmama so I can give you a shout out too. Until next time. Remember, an active pregnancy, confident childbirth, and strong postnatal recovery is something that you deserve. Remember our disclaimer, materials and contents in this podcast are intended as general information only and shouldn’t substitute any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. I’ll see you soon!

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