Pregnancy loss – including miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies and polar pregnancies — can be an extremely challenging experience, yet those who experience it often feel like they are alone.
Given that approximately 10-15 per cent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, it is highly probable that you know someone who has been through it, but that might not have made it any easier to know what to say or do.
Concerned about saying the wrong thing or wondering if they should raise the topic often prevents people from saying anything at all – a situation that the UK Miscarriage Association is hoping to rectify by suggesting some simple tools of communication.
The first, is to simply say “I’m sorry” or “I’m so sorry that you have lost your baby.” Even at the earliest stages of pregnancy, women and their partners feel a real connection to the baby and will grieve for the child and the future they had imagined. As such, many people say just having their loss acknowledged is helpful.
“When I went back to work I still remember people who said ‘I’m sorry, it must be awful are you okay?’ That is all people need to say,” says Lizzie. “It is a bereavement. People mistake it for something different, but you are dealing with the loss of someone who meant the world to you and it needs to be treated with the same level of empathy.”
In terms of what is best not to say, the Miscarriage Association recommends avoiding trying to rationalise the miscarriage, or put a positive spin on the situation. Comments like, “don’t worry, you’re wrong, you can always have another baby,” or “it was probably for the best” are not helpful.
“I don’t want to hear any comment that starts with the words ‘at least’,” says Amy. “All I wanted was for someone to give me a hug and acknowledge what had happened.”
As far as keeping in touch, if you’re not sure if the person would prefer to be left alone, perhaps considering sending a text or card to let them know you’re thinking of them. It is of course important to be circumspect of the fact that everyone is different, so it is best to listen to the individual and be guided by them.
For more advice or information about miscarriage awareness, head here.