The Honest Miscarriage Blog Post will be our completely unfiltered question and answer guide with our Blogger of the Year, Momma Braga
Melanie, most women experience at least one miscarriage in their lives. Do you believe that individual communities provide adequate support about miscarriage?
In my honest opinion I don’t think there is much adequate support and if there is, not much awareness is given to these resources that can help. I think the issue with miscarriages is our lack to communicate about it and reach out for support. There are so many negative feelings associated with miscarriages and I think that is the first step in offering support. As soon as we say, “There is nothing to be ashamed of and it wasn’t your fault. I am here for you.” We can start seeing some positive waves in helping women and their partners who have experienced miscarriage.
Would you share with our readers your miscarriage experience?
Five years ago, I miscarried on Christmas Day and I was about 5 to 6 weeks into the pregnancy and I was completely devastated. We had been trying for a couple of years and we felt completely heartbroken that our opportunity to be parents was over before it could even start.
We honestly didn’t know what to do except cry and cry some more. We managed to tell our parents and a few close family members who tried their best to comfort us which I understand now that it must have been hard for them. Deep down inside I know that many of them felt as heartbroken as we were. I felt lost, ashamed, guilt, confused, hurt, anger and sadness.
Of course, I started to overthink on why it happened to me and started to replay different scenarios in my head on what I could have done differently to prevent the miscarriage. By doing this, it only made matters worse as I started to feel depressed and managed to hide it from everyone close to me. The emotional distress was then making me feel physically sick all the time and it came to the point that I just couldn’t continue like this so I decided to reach out and talk to others who have experienced a similar loss who could guide me.
By reaching out and talking to others it helped me realize that I shouldn’t feel ashamed for what had happened as many women have experienced a miscarriage and it wasn’t my fault. I think that was very important for me as I was feeling that it was my fault. For example, I thought that maybe I should have relaxed more or thought maybe I picked up a heavy box so it was all my fault. But a miscarriage couldn’t have been prevented and there was nothing I could do. Once I started to accept the miscarriage, is when I started to feel better and started becoming me again. It took some time for me to heal (but never forgotten) and I think it has made me a stronger person.
How can women who have had a miscarriage seek support?
Speak with your doctor and ask if there are supports that you can utilize to help cope with your loss physically and emotionally. I know of a great network in Ontario Canada that is also a great support which is called The Parent and Infant Loss Network. You can find more information about them at http://pailnetwork.ca. Also if you know someone who has experienced a miscarriage you can reach out to them for support. You would be surprised how supportive your family and friends can be if you reach out to them and ask for some support and maybe you can let them know how they can help. For example, if you just need a listening ear, let them know and they can support you that way. You just need to try to communicate what you need and how, support should follow.
What are the wrong things to say to a woman who has had a miscarriage?
Before starting my list I just want to say that sometimes people don’t know how their words are hurting someone and are not sensitive to the loss especially if they have not gone through one. So my advice first to everyone is to please be mindful and chose your words wisely.
Here is my top 10 things not to say to a woman who has had a miscarriage.
- You miscarried early so no biggie
- At least you can get pregnant
- It happened for a reason
- Maybe the baby wouldn’t have been healthy
- Be grateful for what you have
- This happens to a lot of people; it’s not a big deal
- Maybe you should have/shouldn’t have…
- It wasn’t meant to be
- Are you going to keep trying?
- You can always have another one
How can friends and family be supportive of a woman who has had a miscarriage?
Contact is important. Be there if possible, but if not call them. Listen to her and whatever she is feeling, she deserves to have her feelings supported by the people around her. Sometimes gestures of a hug or arm around her shoulders is comforting after a miscarriage. Understand that her tears are a healthy response and should never be discouraged. Have a box of tissue handy to help her wipe her tears.
Also let her do the talking and it is sufficient to just listen. You can ask questions and focus on certain points to help her talk about her feelings. Tell her how you feel about her losing the baby and how sorry you are.
Encourage her to be patient and not to impose ‘shoulds’ on herself as grieving takes time and reassure her that it wasn’t her fault which will help alleviate guilt. Above all, try to be as supportive as you can be.
How can friends and family be supportive to a partner who has had a miscarriage?
Many people forget about the partner during a miscarriage as they don’t go through the physical aspects of a miscarriage but emotionally they do. Offer the same support by listening and allowing them to speak about their feelings. I know personally that when my husband was able to express his feelings and grieved about the loss, he was able to better help me cope with my feelings of loss. My advice is not to forget about the partner and as a society we need to allow the partner to feel comfortable with grieving a miscarriage as well.
How can a work place support their employee who has suffered from a miscarriage?
A work place should provide some leave time to allow an employee to grieve a miscarriage. Of course an employer would need to know about the miscarriage and hopefully the employee is comfortable in letting the employer know that they need some time to grieve. Also if an employer has information available to staff on resources that are available to help support them if they experience a miscarriage that would be helpful. Usually many employers have links to resources available for staff on a website that employees can access. I would recommend to do this in case an employee is not comfortable with disclosing about the miscarriage.
What advice would you give to someone who has experienced a miscarriage?
The advice I can personally give from my experience is to take your time to grieve and know that you are going to go through an array of emotions and its ok. Try to reach out to get the support from family and friends and let them know how they can help. Many people won’t know how to support you and it may help if you tell them. Even if it means just letting them know you need a listening ear. Talking about your feelings is great and it was really beneficial to me. If you feel that you need to branch a bit further from your support system, talk with your doctor to see what resources are available in your community that can assist you. Even if you need some counselling, there is no shame in it.
Also try and do things that you and your partner can do to relax. For example, if you are able to take a vacation then take one. A trip or simply doing activities that you enjoy help with the grieving process.
Remember that this wasn’t your fault and I hope you get the support that you need.
Why should society be more open about miscarriages and not so secretive?
Once we start talking about miscarriages and allow women to feel safe to talk about it. Maybe then there wouldn’t be so much guilt and feeling ashamed around miscarriages. At first I was very hesitant to talk openly about my miscarriage in one of my first blog posts but I was encouraged by my sister to talk about it. I was so happy that I did as it opened the lines of communications with friends of mine. I learned that many of them had gone through and it has allowed other people to reach out to me for advice as they were experiencing a miscarriage. I was happy to help them the best way I could and am honored that they felt comfortable in talking about it with me. This is what should happen in society…openness about a tough topic to help support those grieving.