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Synopsis Written By: Christina Landeros, LCSW-S, C-DBT,

EMDRIA Trained, Virtual Therapist

Prevalence, Statistics, and Emotional Toll:

  • 11 – 22% of all pregnancies are lost before the 20th week
    Stillbirth affects 1 in 160 births, and in the US, around 24,000 babies are stillborn each year (CDC, November 2020)
  • Spontaneous pregnancy loss can lead to physical and emotional pain
  • The process of grieving and mourning such a traumatic loss, felt differently by partners, friends, and family members, may lead to intrusive thoughts, isolation, and depression.

How EMDR Helps with Healing and Self-Compassion:

  • Resource Development (Phase 2): Container exercises, dialectics, somatic experiencing, parts work, and other evidence-based mental health skills can help clients self-regulate in-between sessions.
  • Reprocessing and Desensitization (Phase 4): Identifying common triggers and traumatic memories as targets for reprocessing (i.e., feelings of grief, loss, self-blame, shame, helplessness, fear, betrayal, lack of control, survivor’s guilt).
  • Reprocessing and desensitization can include addressing thoughts and feelings such as: “My body has failed me,” “I cannot be a mother,” “I am helpless,” and “I and my body betrayed my baby and my partner.”
  • Installation of Positive Cognitions (Phase 5), such as: “I can honor them in life,” “I did the best I could,” “She/He is a part of my life and our family’s life,” and “I am capable.”
  • Body Scans (Phase 6): Decreasing discomfort or pain and strengthening positive feelings (i.e., targeting lower body pain, discomfort, or numbness after stillbirth or miscarriage).
  • Future Templates (Phase 7): Treating anxiety related to trying again, medical
    appointments and future ultrasounds, feelings related to parenting living children and returning to work stress.

Additional Readings for Clinicians:
Knipe, J. (2019). EMDR toolbox: Theory and treatment of complex PTSD and dissociation (2 nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing.

Luber, Marilyn (2009). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) scripted protocols: Special populations. New York, NY: Springer Publishing.

Zolghadr, N., Khoshnazar, A., MoradiBaglooei, M., Alimoradi, Z. (2019). The effect of EMDR on childbirth anxiety of women with previous stillbirth. Journal of EMDR Research and Practice, 13(1), 10-19.